A neighborhood eyesore by the Van Wyck Expressway in Jamaica, Queens is finally getting cleared away, after NY1 brought attention to the problem last week. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
The fence and graffiti are still there, but at least one problem is gone — the mounds of trash that filled this illegal dumping site along the Van Wyck Expressway in Jamaica, Queens.
On Wednesday, sanitation workers spent nearly six hours cleaning the well-known dumping ground after NY1 called them about the problem.
"It was sick to look at, you know," said resident Mo Ali. "It's like our place, you know. It's getting back to normal."
"It's much better to know that when people are traveling through Jamaica Queens via the Van Wyck or the AirTrain they don't look and say, 'what a filthy neighborhood,'" said Tyquana Henderson, a member of the local community board.
NY1 first covered this story last week, after Queens Borough reporter Ruschell Boone noticed the trash while driving by. The station looked into the problem and discovered there was a lot more to the issue.
The State Transportation Department is responsible for the property, but the agency allowed the Port Authority to fence it in and use it as a staging area for the AirTrain construction.
The DOT said the Port Authority was supposed to restore the area and remove the fence in 2003 after the work was done, but the Port Authority said it was not aware of that.
Residents were glad at least one problem is being solved.
"I applaud you guys for taking the time to make sure that we got this rectified and highlighting the issues," said Henderson.
State DOT officials said they are working with the city to get the graffiti cleaned up and they are speaking with the Port Authority about restoring the site and removing the fence.
Meanwhile, the agency has secured the lot after it was cleaned inside and out. The Sanitation Department says illegal dumping is a major issue.
"It's one of the most difficult things to track because the city is so large. It happens during the wee hours of the morning sometimes and we can't be everywhere, so we ask the citizens if they do see someone illegally dumping to call 311," said Sanitation Department Deputy Chief Keith Mellis.
Offenders face a fine of up to $20,000. With the gates no longer wide open, it will be hard for people to get inside the lot, but residents said they will be on the lookout.