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Queens residents get relief from smelly garbage after 18 year fight

QUEENS — A street packed with smelly garbage trucks is causing real issues for the people who live there.

Sharon and Eddie Cadiz first noticed the issue on 35th Avenue between 12th and 21 Streets 18 years ago. That’s when the quality of live on their block took a drastic turn for the worse. The New York City Department of Sanitation garage on their corner became filled to capacity and the department began double parking it’s garbage trucks all along the avenue.

They began a battle to get the trucks off their block.

Mr. Cadiz, a community liaison for Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, wrote a letter to then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but never got a response. He took hundreds of pictures of problems caused by the garbage trucks.

Crossing the street between them was hazardous, especially with a senior citizen center on the block.  Parking became next to impossible for the residents because the spaces were blocked by the trucks. The stench from the trucks and the constant noise from their idling at all hours made life unpleasant. Residents believe the diesel fumes from the trucks contributed to the high asthma rate in the community.

The couple continued writing letters and sending pictures to the White House, Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters and City Hall. They had no success.

“For decades, the City of New York said ‘deal with it. We don’t have any other place to put the garbage trucks’,” New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said.

Then, last summer, Ms. Cadiz, an educator, questioned Mayor Bill de Blasio at a town hall meeting in Queens.  She wanted to know when those garbage trucks would be removed.  To her surprise, de Blasio said there were plans in the works to relocate the trucks to a nearby industrial site. He said that would happen in September.

September came and went and the garbage trucks continued to double park along 35th Avenue.

So the couple increased the pressure on City Hall.  They organized residents, got a thousand signatures on petitions and reached out to the local media to publicize their plight.  Assemblywoman Nolan and Councilman Van Bramer pushed the Sanitation Department  and the Mayor to take action.

It worked!  The Mayor just recently announced that the double parked trucks would be moved immediately.  And they are now gone from 35th Street. In addition, the city is spending $142 million to build a new DSNY garage to replace the one on the corner.  It will be located in an industrial area, far from the Ravenswood Houses where the Cadiz family lives.  The old garage will be torn down.

“If we continue to fight for our communities and exercise our rights as citizens and voters, then we have an opportunity to make things change,” Ms. Cadiz said.

It took 18 years, but finally, they have taken their street back.

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