July 30, 2013 By Christian Murray
Construction has started on a $250,000 pigeon mitigation system that is expected to rid the 46th Street, 52nd Street and 61st Street subway stations of unsightly feces—as well as protect commuters from being hit by excrement.
Sunnyside and Woodside residents have complained for years about these three stations, where piles of feces have attached themselves to the entrances and nearby sidewalks. Many pigeons, residents say, lurk in groups near the subway entrances—waiting for potential victims.
“We have a war on pigeon poop,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who held a press conference at the 46th Street subway stop. “Pigeon feces are not only disgusting to look at, but they are a health hazard.”
Van Bramer said the pigeon mitigation system includes a number of deterrents. These include nylon spikes, low voltage wires and sloped surfaces—all devices that are used to reduce resting spots for pigeons. Furthermore, an ultra-sonic sound device (which is inaudible to humans) is another deterrent that is about to be introduced.
Rachel Thieme, the executive director for Sunnyside Shines BID, said the system will help beautify the neighborhood which is good for local businesses. She said that it will help transform the areas below the subway stations into pedestrian spaces—which can be used for musical and arts events.
Construction on the mitigation system has just started at 46th Street station but will begin at the 52nd Street and 61st Streets stations shortly. The project should take 3 months to complete.
The pigeon problem is most acute at the 52nd Street station, which is getting the bulk of the funding. Van Bramer said that the problem is made worse there because people are feeding the pigeons—which is illegal—at John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square, which is adjacent to the station.
Regina Shanley, a local resident, complained about the poor condition of the 52nd Street station. “I have been pooped on more times that I can count there…and my dog has been pooped on so I do not bring him anymore,” she said. “It is disgustingly filthy and is a major problem.”
Van Bramer said the pigeon mitigation system was worth the hefty expenditure. “People in this area are disgusted by pigeon poop and they hate the fact that when people visit them they have to walk through rows and piles of it…It does not speak well of our neighborhood, let alone the public health issue.”