All Rego Park resident Linda Pakula wants is for those in her community to show some respect.
Throughout Rego Park, some bioswales that normally house appealing greenery and filter rainwater instead feature garbage, oily water or broken, dead trees.
Near the intersection of 63rd Road and 97th Street, a block from Queens Boulevard, two unsightly plots feature all that and more.
Two orange cones wrapped in old caution tape, ripped paper signs and garbage surround a dead tree in a pit on the west side of the intersection.
Just steps away, on the east side of the intersection, a tarp, sandbags and a cone cover the spot where a tree would normally sit, while numerous bags of trash float in a pool of dirty water.
Instead of blaming the Parks Department for allowing the bioswales to decay, Pakula blames her fellow Rego Park residents.
“It’s the people in the community throwing their garbage in there,” Pakula said. “I would never say it’s a city issue, it’s a people issue.”
Employees of adjacent stores tasked with keeping the sidewalks around the pits clean are just as frustrated with the littering pedestrians.
A staff member, who asked her name to be withheld, at the CVS Pharmacy at 97-10 63 Road said the store occasionally gets fined by the city for the trash buildup in the pit directly in front of the business, despite their best efforts to keep the area clean.
“It’s your neighborhood, just respect it. People have to learn to be courteous and kind,” she said. “There are no garbage cans around outside, so we put a second one in our vestibule.”
A high-ranking employee, who also asked his name be withheld, at Dress Barn at 98-24 63 Road also expressed frustration at the lack of responsibility regarding the unsightly tree pit directly in front of his store, as well.
Despite the efforts of the store and the building superintendent to clean the pit almost daily, according to the employee, garbage still accumulates at a high level.
Rego Park resident Martin Meyer views rude pedestrians one of the main reasons for the unsightliness, but he also blames the city for allowing numerous pits around the five boroughs to decay.
“There’s so many tree plots with stumps all over the city. There have to be hundreds of thousands of them,” Meyer said. “If they would rip the stumps out, they could plant fresh trees. It’s a waste of money with tree plots with the gates around them.”
Parks Department spokesman Zach Feder said the cones and sandbags were there to shield the bioswale sites, which are under the jurisdiction of a city contractor, from recent roadwork.
“The barriers were placed to protect the bioswale sites during recent roadway reconstruction,” Feder said. “Once construction is completed, the barriers will be removed, sites rebuilt and trees replaced.”
According to Feder, after two years, the bioswales become the Parks Department’s responsibility.