NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Piles of trash dot the corners and sidewalks of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem. Residents and community leaders say the problem has gone on for months ever since the Department of Sanitation removed more than 200 trash cans in the neighborhood.
The Sanitation Department removed more than a thousand litter cans citywide in the last year.
"I don't know how could anyone in their right mind could think because you remove a garbage can, that it's a safer or better environment," Stanley Gleaton, a member of Community Board 10, said. "I'm not understanding their logic."
The Department of Sanitation said that while this may seem counterintuitive, removing trash bins can lead to clean streets and sidewalks. In many cases, the bins were chronically misused by people who dumped household or commercial trash, sanitation officials said.
State Assemblywoman Inez Dickens said her office has been inundated with complaints about the removal of the trash cans and the litter that has popped up in their place.
"They just took the garbage cans and said, 'Well, it's your problem,'" she said. "We pay taxes as well."
Jolinda Ruth Cogen lives on Edgecomb Avenue and is the head of her block association. She said eight cans were removed from her area. Pedestrians just dump their trash on the street corners or in the park. She and her neighbors have resorted to picking up and bagging abandoned trash.
Despite the complaints, the Sanitation Department said the cleanliness of this part of Harlem has actually improved this year, according to its own scorecard inspection rating.
Removing baskets is just one of the measures we use to ensure clean streets and sidewalks, which also includes enforcement and education," Belinda Mager, the department's director of communications, wrote in an email to Fox 5.
In response to community feedback, the Sanitation Department did replace a small number of cans in Harlem but hasn't indicated whether any more will be replaced.
Community members and elected officials say they'll keep fighting until more trash cans are put back on the streets.