Clean Up Day #3 focused on the northeast section of Greenpoint. We partnered with the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA), a community-based organization dedicated to restoring, revealing and revitalizing Newtown Creek, a body of water that separates northern Greenpoint from Queens.
NCA was a partner for the northwest section because some of our street litter makes its way to Newtown Creek, especially small things like cigarette butts. Trash that clogs storm drains eventually gets pushed inside of the slots, or catch basins, and when the drains from most of Greenpoint discharge stormwater into the Creek the litter goes too. While we didn’t clean up the Creek itself, NCA Program Manager Willis Elkins presented the problem to our volunteers during orientation. We learned that pieces of litter in the water are known as floatables.
The Northeast section of Greenpoint is dominated by industrial uses ranging from waste infrastructure to sets and sound stages for major TV shows. The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, New York City’s largest water treatment plant, shares space along Newtown Creek with a retired NYC Department of Sanitation depot and Allocco, a construction waste recycler. Save for a few residential streets, the majority of northeastern Greenpoint is occupied by massive warehouses that sit on “superblocks,” or blocks larger than normal city blocks. Most are devoid of any active uses at the ground level. Few people travel the streets and sidewalks in this part of town, but we found that this didn’t reduce the amount of trash and litter throughout this section. Unfortunately, the lack of foot traffic in industrial Greenpoint facilitates illegal dumping. Volunteers found several tires, large black trash bags and other clunky items tucked away behind overgrown weeds throughout the blocks we covered.
Some of the large, windowless buildings in the area house sound stages owned by Broadway Stages, a major film, television and music production company headquartered in Greenpoint. Film crews pour out of these buildings for location shoots, bringing some vibrancy to the neighborhood. Tony and Gina Argento, the owners of Broadway Stages, dedicate a lot of time, energy and resources to make Greenpoint a better place to live. The two generously donated their space at 203 Diamond Street for our volunteers to gather during the clean up day.
Potentially not unrelated, we found a lot of coffee cups, paper plates, and napkins in the streets around the sound stages. Another piece of litter found over and over were car air fresheners. One potential explanation for the prevalence of air fresheners is the large amount of trucks that frequent these industrial streets. Perhaps truckers don’t mind throwing out used air fresheners in neighborhoods they are just passing through?
After volunteers spent a good 2 ½ hours cleaning up the streets, they came back to Broadway Stages to eat lunch courtesy of Greenpoint restaurants Casanova, Cup & Compass, Grandma Rose’s Pizza, Oasis and Slick Willie.
See more photos from this event on our Facebook page!