Police and Sanitation Remove Garbage Pile Causing Distress at Local School; Individual Responsible Tended by Social Workers

By Lisa Kava

Department of Sanitation workers, officers from the NYPD 20th Precinct, and social workers from the Department of Social Services were at work Monday afternoon on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets, where a pile of garbage, including furniture and household goods, has been steadily accumulating over the past few weeks.

The pile had escalated to an alarming point, where it had almost completely overtaken the sidewalk alongside PS 344, The Anderson School, according to an officer from the NYPD 20th Precinct. Social workers were on site, speaking to the individual who had been collecting and placing the items on the sidewalk. The block was closed to pedestrians, as Department of Sanitation workers cleaned up. According to the police officer, there have been numerous 311 and 911 calls in the past week, including calls from representatives of The Anderson School. “Rats and feces have been found under the garbage,” the officer said. “It is all being cleaned up.”

The individual responsible was removed from the site by social workers. He is not experiencing homelessness, according to one who was on site. “He has an apartment and lives in the neighborhood,” the social worker told West Side Rag. “We are trying to help.”

NEWS | 30 comments | permalink
    1. Leon says:

      Great teamwork by the police and social workers. Resolving quality of life issues like this makes this a better neighborhood for all.

      Someone seems to have set up residence outside the old Artie’s, blocking much of the sidewalk. Hopefully the police and social workers can again work together to remove this and help the person/people.

      • UWSmaven says:

        I’ve called 311 several times about the homeless person in front of Artie’s. They always respond that the person was contacted and they refused help. I think it’s dangerous and unsanitary!

        • G.Locke says:

          I tried to plug in my phone briefly and that person suddenly became extremely hostile. He acted like I invaded his home. I chose not to call 311 or 911 then but he might become dangerous at some point if he is so possessive of His Corner!

          I do not know how the other person near the school managed to squirrel so much stuff down there near the school. I noticed household items in and on the bushes a few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon but at that time a few street sellers were still selling their stuff in that area. I stopped going there when the?weather was so slushy. Yesterday afternoon it was nice and clean. Dry too.

    2. maria p says:

      What’s alarming is how this was allowed for so long?

      • Juan says:

        Most of the adjacent school is middle school students, who were fully remote until last week. I’m guessing that now that their kids are back in school, middle school parents increased the intensity of their complaints.

        But I agree that it shouldn’t require that to do something about this – it is a few blocks from the police precinct. Unfortunately, too many of our neighbors view the police as enemies so they are hesitant to address issues like this for fear of upsetting someone.

      • Vincent says:

        Agreed, it’s been over two months.

      • Truth and Reason says:

        I live a block or two from here and I just assumed that they were a homeless person’s belongings. New York shelters do not allow you to take in more than one large Hefty bag size of belongings, so if you own anything more than that, you’re sort of forced to live on the streets. That’s why I didn’t do or say anything: I figured it was an unfortunate homeless person with no other choice. I’d even seen someone sitting in the middle of the pile from time to time.

        And then at some points (usually weekends), there’s even been a vendor selling antiques and old junk on a table directly across from it. Because clothing and a few other items were actually hung on the fence, a friend of mine was convinced that the pile was part of the vendor’s wares. With no flea market in the schoolyard due to corona, the sidewalk is the only place those vendors have to set up.

        I’m glad to see it cleared, especially since neither of those have turned out to be the case. But you asked how could it go on for so long: That’s how!

        Now the next question is when will the flea market open back up so we can get those vendors off the sidewalk?

        • Peter says:

          People in the shelter system who are receiving benefits can get storage lockers for their property. Case managers help clients in getting a locker.

        • Susan says:

          So you openly prioritized the needs and comfort of a mythical unfortunate person over the sanitation and quality of life of your actual real neighbors and neighborhood.

          • EricaC says:

            That’s one way to put it. Another might be “so you made the difficult choice to allow someone else the opportunity to retain what might be their only possessions in the world, although it created an unsightly and unpleasant situation that you and your neighbors would really prefer not to have, but can easily avoid (including by going inside your home?” All a matter of perspective, I guess.

    3. Sarah says:

      Sounds like someone cracking under the strain of the past year. I hope they can recover.

      • Tricia says:

        I’ve seen the man in the neighborhood for many years. I do think he has succumbed to pressures of life that come with age and circumstances. Better the professionals assist him/them. Take care of each other and the neighborhood. It’s where we live.

        • Claire says:

          “It’s where our investments are.”

        • Lucille says:

          I hope the gentleman is able to get the help he needs. This is not a new issue, I have been reporting to DSNY for several months now with photos. I often see the gentleman collecting items from the residential garbage cans along 76th between CPW and Columbus. I believe it has already been cleaned up once before and imagine it won’t be long before it accumulates again, which would be a real shame. From time to time he sets up a table to sell some of the items.

    4. Pcnyc says:

      Agree with the above comments: it’s ridiculous how many days and people this took for this health hazard to finally be resolved.

      • Helen says:

        This was exactly the type of situation that had developed on 72nd st in April of 2020 and no one would listen to the residents here. There was furniture and other items belonging to an encampment of homeless men who were using drugs on a regular basis, setting fires under the scaffolding, and relentlessly harassing the residents who were still living on the block.

        There were multiple calls made to 311 and 911 and finally in late October the sanitation dept was able to clear off the block. Ironically this was all happening adjacent to Linda Rosenthal’s office. The men have now moved down to the corners of B’way and WEA where they sleep under the scaffolding of the small shops. They need professional mental health assistance, and they’re certainly not getting it.

    5. Ferd Finster says:

      Health hazard?
      Are you people so self serving that you can’t see the real problem? There is a real health problem and it’s not the pile of garbage, it’s that in that pile of garbage is a human being who is sick, and the “richest country in the world” can’t or won’t help him or the thousands of other people like him.

      • AR says:

        Obviously you never lived with a hoarder. They refuse treatment… and it’s not the responsibility of an entire community to endure as it continues.. it’s taking action on preventing their habits doing harm to others who live nearby. They will continue their behavior until they themselves see the harm they cause… safety to others is not their concern.. as this person stated, he thinks of himself in wanting to “sell” items.. yet cluttered an apartment uninhabitable to himself or his neighbors… what do you honestly think is the workaround.. easy to cry about right souls… if you’re a shrink that offers to counsel him personally then there’s no crying on your behalf to the community to treat this any differently

      • Jane says:

        He and those like him refuse help. So what’s the solution, just let them pile up filth on the streets?

    6. AR says:

      Glad that finally folks have some respect for cops and sanitation workers in our neighborhood.. just saying! We quickly judge.. and here is a community situation where they rose to the occasion.

      • Vincent Iadevaia says:

        They did nothing and let it build up for months despite numerous 311 calls, I’m not sure I’d call that rising to the occasion.

    7. Sarasoda says:

      We spoke to this person, who we have seen in the neighborhood for years. They lost their job due to the pandemic and was simply trying to make some money by selling, at first, their possessions. That school PS 334 really rallied to get them off their block. It was a mess, yes. But they weren’t taking up the entire sidewalk. Sad.

      • KatyDid says:

        This person did not tell you the truth.He has not had a job for YEARS.I knew him for 20 years as well as the details of his History.

    8. G.Locke says:

      The New York Post wrote a second article about this person.
      Apparently he is an artist who likes to turn TRASH into FASHION … so was this just a Publicity Stunt Project? I was a bit surprised how quickly trash may have accumulated there especially during the snowy slushy rainy days … I could drag myself to the Farmers Market on Sundays early afternoons but was not checking that area for weeks. Perhaps the Sunday sellers stopped coming and he grabbed his chance … too bad that his Artwork is now Gone … only a few photos and videos left.

      Not even close to the Upper East Side real Hoarder woman who managed to stuff an entire house on 86th and 3rd …then sold the house for 8Plus million in that sorry condition because Location Location Location mattered. That house got cleaned then demolished eventually and she managed to purchase a really nice one in the same area.

    9. Janice Wright says:

      It’s Fri, March 5, and he’s back sitting with his stuff.

      • G.Locke says:

        He was there with some stuff on the second bench. Other sellers were there too on both sides, their wares were much better organized.

        The person from next to Chipotle was GONE by the tenth with all his bookshelves and books missing because the TV crew had all their equipment right there. I doubt that they will bring his stuff back.

    10. G.Locke says:

      He came back with some stuff by Sunday. He was there on the Second Bench.

      The man from next to Chipotle was GONE on Thursday the 10th because the Broadway Sunny Afternoon hosted a movie set for TV … and lots of their equipment was right there in that very same area.