West Harlem residents say new shared trash bins are an ‘ugly’ sight on historic block. Are they coming our way?

By Arthur Schwartz

Shared Containers on 152nd Street. Photo courtesy of The Curious Uptowner.

According to The Gothamist, “residents of historic buildings on a tree-lined section of Upper Manhattan found a new feature in their neighborhood” in mid-September: “…large, wheeled bins labeled ‘Trash’.”

“The Sanitation Department installed the shared dumpsters on residential streets in West Harlem as part of a pilot program inspired by operations in cities like Barcelona and Paris, where residents throw away trash in communal bins instead of leaving bags on sidewalks for collection. Officials say the goal is to reduce the city’s exploding rat population by eliminating the rodents’ access to food sources in household trash.”

“Caroline Miller, who lives with her husband on West 149th Street, said the dumpsters were set up outside her first-floor apartment without community input. ‘I hate them so much. It is ridiculous. We got no notice, we got no say,’ said Miller, a 36-year-old opera singer… ‘It’s like I’m living in the back alley of a school building’.”

“The bins were installed in clusters in September on each residential block between West 142nd and West 144th streets and between West 146th and West 153rd streets, from Broadway to Amsterdam Avenue. The large containers were also installed outside several public schools in the neighborhood in August.”

The goal of the wheeled dumpsters is to prevent garbage from piling up on sidewalks—tasty magnets for rats. Each street has been getting five sets containing two or three bins, each of which takes up one-and-a-half parking spaces according to the City of New York Department of Sanitation. Pick-up is supposed to be six days a week.

Some of the first new containers were placed in front of P.S./I.S. 210 on W 152nd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway in August. Used exclusively by the school, they include three for trash; one for metal, glass, and plastic; two for paper and cardboard; and two for compost.

Could this be the future in front of P.S. 41, P.S. 3, and the 75 Morton Street School?