Jan. 8, 2016 By Christian Murray
The MTA has taken steps to clean up the long-time dumping ground underneath the 43rd Street train trestle located between Barnett and 37th Avenues.
The agency has erected a fence underneath the trestle that helps block homeless people from sleeping there and illegal dumping.
The MTA was subject to a great deal of criticism after residents voiced their anger about the area at the November Community Board 2 meeting.
“The street is appalling,” Christine McKay-Vega said at that meeting. “The garbage is disgusting.”
Vega said she walks along 43rd Street most days as she escorts her son to middle school from Sunnyside to Astoria.
“No one is taking responsibility for it,” she said.
On Nov 19, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer recruited a group of cleaners to haul away garbage and power wash pigeon droppings.
Van Bramer then sent a letter to Thomas Prendergast, CEO of the MTA, on November 20 informing him that the area “attracts illegal dumping and has become a hangout for men who bring cardboard (to sleep on) and additional trash.”
The councilman noted that when the area was cleaned by the workers, they gathered 37 bags of trash. He wrote that many residents do not feel safe walking through that area.
The MTA wrote back to Van Bramer on December 7 and said that the fence had “temporarily been taken down in order to accommodate construction work with the East Side Access Project.”
The letter noted that the MTA Police Department would remove any homeless encampments and then the fence would be re-installed.
The fence was reinstalled about two weeks ago and the area cleared out.
“My office has and will continue to apply pressure on the MTA,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “This is a major step forward in our office’s work to keep 43rd Street clean and properly maintained.”