BOROUGH PARK, Brooklyn — When it comes to trash cleanup, New York City has some 1,000 so-called areas of no man’s lands — places where trash piles up, and rarely, if ever, gets disposed of, according to the city government. 

It added that the reason for the no man’s lands is dysfunction among city agencies.  On Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams and other City Hall top brass said that that dysfunction has come to a close, and that the city will be cleaner going forward. Some New Yorkers expressed skepticism. 

The trash talk, as it were, was part of the Adams Administration announcing a new initiative, which it calls “Get Stuff Clean.” 

Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, along with the mayor, led a news conference about the new initiative at Brizzi Playground and park. Tisch said that the park had been one of the city’s no man’s lands, but no more. 

“An impartial observer could reasonably assume that nobody gives a damn,” she said about the fact that there are so many unkempt areas. “Well, this administration gives a damn.”   

With that, she announced the new $14.5 million initiative. It will add 200 more sanitation workers to the city payroll, and adds evening shifts to workers cleaning up trash in 240 New York City Parks, among other changes. 

It’s an expansion of a city program that began in July to sweep streets, empty city garbage cans, and pick up trash more frequently, citywide. 

Tisch said that the reason the so-called no man’s lands had come to exist in the first place was that, for decades, up to five different city agencies all had to give approval for cleaning up locations near some streets, highways, and parks. 

For example, she explained, an off ramp from a roadway might need the Departments of Transportation, Environmental Protection, Parks, and Sanitation to all approve trash cleanup there.  As a result, the off ramp may never get beautified. 

Now, said Tisch, any of the agencies’ workers can do the job. She added that some of the changes are already underway, and have resulted in a 55 percent drop in complaints about city trash cans being too full. 

“I think New Yorkers are already noticing an improvement in cleanliness in the city,“ Tisch said, “because we restored all the basics.”

PIX11 News surveyed people who live or work in the vicinity of Brizzi Park, where the news conference had been, if they’d had, as the commissioner had suggested, noticed an improvement.  

One parkgoer, who did not give her name, said that she’d had. However, her response was one of a variety of reactions that were decidedly mixed.  

“I think they’re doing a pretty good job,” said James Harris, who was on his lunch break from a nearby school. “Every time I come in here,” he continued, “the workers come in here and clean up the park. They’re doing pretty good.”

When asked if the additional cleaning might be related to the mayor and sanitation commissioner having just been there, Harris said no. 

“[It’s] not because the mayor is here,” he told PIX11 News. “They’ve been keeping up with their work.”

Tamara Johnson, a local resident and longtime park visitor, had a different view.

“This specific park is always disgusting,” Johnson said. “Kids shouldn’t have to step over trash, feces,” she said, pointing to the dog park there, where, she said, people don’t always clean up.

At the news conference in the park hours earlier, Mayor Adams said that residents needed to be responsible for their public spaces, as much as the city did. 

He also mentioned a situation a couple of weeks earlier where he picked up trash on the subway. It was meant to set an example for every New Yorker, the mayor said. 

“If I’m willing to do it,” he said, “I’m sure that everyone is willing to do it.”

Residents shouldn’t only rely on city agencies to clean, the mayor emphasized, but added that city agencies will clean a lot more, and will crack down harder on illegal dumpers. He said that his administration will spend $1.4 million to set up more surveillance cameras to catch them, and will now charge them a $4,000 fine for each offense.

Whether or not New Yorkers believe that the new efforts will result in a cleaner city is an open question, as Tim Phelan, who was walking near Brizzi Park, said. 

“We’ll have to see, right?” he said. “If they say they’re gonna do it, and they don’t do it, that’s not gonna help them, right?”

Mayor Adams also said that his administration will unveil a new system in a few days that’s designed to reduce the rat population. He said that he wouldn’t release details yet, “because the rats may be listening.”