Stink House on 85th Street – FIXED


Some good news to report regarding the stink house of 85th Street (see news coverage here and here).  For those new to this story, there was a busted sewage pipe at this location and human waste (feces and urine) was spilling out on to the sidewalk.  This location is directly next to a Church (St. Luke’s) and their nursery school.  Numerous 311 complaints were filed — and a host of city agencies were involved — the Department of Building, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health, Department of Sanitation — but 2 months after it was first reported, the problem persisted — and some of the 311 complaints were closed (including one that said DEP investigated and saw no need for repairs!!)

ice-02The Stink House of 85th Street During a Deep Freeze

We were in touch with the offices of Eric Ulrich and Mike Miller — we also worked with the Mayor’s Office — and we are very grateful to all 3 offices and happy to be able to report good news.  Last week, we saw a van on 85th Street with some workers — the company’s name on the van said it specialized in cesspools.  At the end of last week, on Friday (3/1) there was another crew — and a large dumpster.

stinkThe Stink House Gets A Spring Cleaning

Best of all, the sidewalk is now dry.  Human waste is no longer gushing out on to the sidewalk.

stink-2About Time!

While we are happy to say that this problem has been resolved (it’s always good to scratch an item like this off of the “To Do” list) we would be remiss in our duty if we patted ourselves on the head and left it at that.  The residents of Woodhaven deserve answers to the following questions:

  • Why did it take over two months to get action on this issue?
  • Some residents noticed that action only seemed to come after the story hit the papers; why did it take such measures to get this resolved?
  • Why was a 311 complaint closed with the reason being that “no repairs were needed”?  Who made that determination?
  • Has anyone gone back to that person to ask why they made that determination?
  • Was this determination made without even visiting the property?
  • Why was this never escalated to a health hazard, particularly with children at the nursery school next door?
  • Why was the sidewalk never closed?
  • The WRBA’s 311 complaint had no status available – when we called it took 15 minutes to get an answer.  Why?
  • How come 311 does not have a better way to handle duplicate complaints?
  • Does 311 ever perform an audit on closed requests to review how well they were handled?  In other words, is there any quality control?
  • If so, we’d like to request a thorough review of this incident.  If not, we’d like to know why 311 does not audit their own results.
  • Local residents say there is still old scraps of toilet paper on the sidewalk.  Are we left to hope for rain to wash the last remnants away?
  • Is this location considered safe?  What kind of hazard was it?  Were local residents ever in any danger of getting sick?
  • Finally, most importantly, what can we do — as a city — to ensure that no one goes through this again?  How can NYC improve their procedures? 

We will work with our elected representatives to get answers to these questions and report back to you on our progress.  But, for now, we’ll allow ourselves a moment of happiness that human waste is not flowing on to the sidewalk of 85th Street.



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