BY STATE SEN. TOBY STAVISKY
Trash in Flushing has always proven to be a tough issue to solve, particularly in Downtown Flushing, where I spend a lot of time.
With businesses, eateries and apartments jam-packed into a few square blocks, there are bound to be quality of life challenges.
However, the rubbish scattered across the sidewalks and pouring out of overfilled waste bins cannot be ignored.
With each piece of litter, we detract from all of the development taking place in Flushing. No one wants to buy an expensive condo only to be forced to weave through garbage on the sidewalk.
About six months ago, I went around the Downtown Flushing area, taking note of litter and grocery store produce being outside in unsanitary conditions. I was particularly troubled by the conditions near the Long Island Rail Road Main Street Station where trash is abundant.
In order to truly clean up Flushing, we need to approach the problem in several ways. First, there must be communication between business owners and city and state agencies as well as the local business associations. As English is a second language for many of the residents and business owners in the area, we need to be sure they are informed of the rules and regulations for disposing of garbage. I believe handing out fliers – in English, Chinese and Korean – informing when and how trash should be thrown out could be quite beneficial.
Second, there must be enforcement. If a business owner has been repeatedly warned that their garbage practices violate the law, then we must issue fines. So many owners are struggling to keep their doors open, blanket ticketing will only result in dozens of businesses closing down. But if a business is refusing to take better care in the disposal of their trash after receiving a warning, then inspectors have no choice but to enforce city regulations. The MTA/LIRR must also be held accountable to maintain their property.
Third, there must be personal responsibility. The problem does not only lie in restaurants piling trash bags in the street. Individuals tossing bottles, bags, food and other rubbish on the ground is also unacceptable. It will take all of us, working together and being mindful of our decisions, to keep Flushing clean.