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East Harlem residents, NYCHA at odds over compactors

March 19, 2012 4:38:16 AM PDT
A plan to move trash compactors smack dab in the middle of an apartment complex in East Harlem has residents infuriated.

The New York City Housing Authority says the compactors have to be moved to make room for the construction of a new charter school.

To say residents of the Washington Houses are upset is an understatement.

The plan calls for several large trash compactors to be placed on a playground and a picnic area. Residents say it's a health hazard and will bring more rats into the area.

The large trash compactors currently sit behind a gate near the street, and that is an ideal location, not on the playground and certainly not in a picnic area.

"It's in between two buildings where we have the highest asthma rate in East Harlem," said Marietta Palmer, of Community Voices Heard. "It just makes no sense."

Longtime residents say what's really grating is the way the housing authority made their decision, with no input from the residents who would be affected.

"The people that's making the decisions to move these here do not live in the area or in the complex, and they made this decision without consulting with the residents that it's going to affect directly," Community Voices Heard's Prenzette Reid said. "So it was kind of pushed down our throats, like we're putting it here, shut up and that's where it's going."

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has fired off a letter to the housing authority asking them to reconsider the location.

"It's so stupid, it's so irresponsible," he said. "These are people who care about the community, so why is NYCHA dumping on them when there are clearly alternatives to explore. I think it's the height of arrogance."

NYCHA released a statement saying, in part, "other locations were deemed inappropriate because of the close proximity to fuel oil tanks, bus stops and other buildings."

Stringer says residents have suggested the housing authority locate the dumpsters on East 99th Street and Second Avenue.

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