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Department of Sanitation

Sanitation Dept’s ‘Clean Curbs’ Program Spreads to Staten Island

The first Staten Island Clean Curbs enclosure, in front of Vinium at 704 Bay St. File Photo

The Sanitation Department is getting a piece of the Rock.

The agency's "Clean Curbs" pilot program, which containerizes commercial trash, is expanding into Staten Island with an installation servicing businesses at 704 Bay St., in the Stapleton Heights section, south of the ferry at St. George.

A two-bin trash enclosure now appears in the street next to Vinium, a "cozy" Italian restaurant and wine bar with some outdoor seating and a devoted local following. (It's the kind of place for Mother's Day, we heard from a reliable source.) Another Richmond County location will follow soon. The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce got a $3,500 grant for the project, which involves a private carter.

Staten Island is the third borough to receive the attention of Clean Curbs, as Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch promised in June. The $1.3-million Clean Curbs — a small but determined effort to rid the city of its notorious "5 o'clock shadow" of leaky, stinking trash bags that inundate sidewalks on collection days — started in April with two sets of enclosures in Times Square and since has spread to two business-improvement districts in Brooklyn in what will be a five-borough march by year's end. The Montague Street BID in Brooklyn came on line in June and now the Pitkin Avenue BID, in Brownsville, a traditionally underserved neighborhood, joined this month.

An inaugural residential component of Clean Curbs, which Streetsblog exclusively reported will containerize the trash of a number of apartment houses on West 45th Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues, is expected later this fall. The next borough for the commercial pilot will The Bronx, Tisch said.

Clean Curbs is a kind of entry-level course at "Containerization University" for the department, which has drawn criticism for the smallness of the effort. Cities around the world for decades successfully have deployed many containerization strategies, leaving New York in the dust. But that may be changing as the city studies large-scale efforts and the New York City Housing Authority (see today's main story) starts using large, machine-hoisted bins at its many apartment complexes.

The Pitkin Avenue trash enclosure. Photo: DSNY
The Pitkin Avenue trash enclosure. Photo: DSNY
The Pitkin Avenue trash enclosure. Photo: DSNY

"Use of bins in these two different locations — in addition to Times Square and Brooklyn Heights — will improve quality of life in these locations, while helping us learn more about containerized trash in a variety of New York City settings, commercial, residential and mixed use," said DSNY spokesman Vincent Gragnani. "We look forward to continued expansion of this program that will move us toward our goals of removing black bags from our sidewalks, giving rats fewer opportunities to feed and boosting quality of life for all who use our roads and sidewalks."

Each Clean Curbs installation uses the products of CITIBIN, a Brooklyn-based woman-owned business that manufactures the enclosures from steel clad in a bamboo-composite material used in decking. The bins have taken a lot of abuse at the high-traffic locations at Times Square — the "Crossroads of the World" — prompting stories about icky garbage juice and gaping enclosures, first in Streetsblog and later in the New York Post.

But each of the locations so far has had the salutary effect of employing curbside street space for a public use, sanitation, removing it from the realm of private car storage, also known as parking. In this way, the pilot habituates New Yorkers to the idea that public right of way belongs to the public for varied uses, including loading zones, drop-off zones, parklets, and bike corals, freeing up sidewalk space for pedestrians.

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