Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, garbage has been littering the streets due to the improper disposal of masks, gloves, and other medical debris.
While the City took steps to remedy the problem, the issue persists. Pleas from city officials, a PSA by the Office of Emergency Management, an at-home Earth Day Cleanup on April 25, and the resumption of street sweeping worked only as temporary solutions.
Resident speaks out
Lifelong Bayonne resident, Gail Godesky, spoke at the Sept. 23 city council meeting.
“Do we want to be known as the city who went messy during COVID-19?,” she asked, encouraging the council to take a ride around the city to witness the widespread garbage.
Godesky said many Bayonne residents have not been wearing masks and social distancing properly. This includes “adults in leadership roles” not wearing masks or wearing them improperly.
“Some people will not understand the severity of the virus until their family or friends are affected,” she said. “How can adults expect students and children to abide by safety precautions if we do not comply?”
With masks, gloves, and other medical debris on sidewalks and streets, Godesky questioned how people are expected to move into new buildings in Bayonne with the city in its current state.
‘Let’s grab a broom!’
Godesky said that the week prior, she had called Department of Public Works Director Tom Cotter asking that a garbage buildup in a sewer be removed near 25th Street and Kennedy Blvd. Glass was littering the street in the same area between Broadway and Avenue E.
She called out local businesses where the garbage is bad: “You know who you are.” Godesky also called out apartment dwellers on Broadway who used public garbage cans instead of the building’s garbage cans.
“We need to hold people responsible,” she said.
Godesky said that people are leaving Bayonne during the pandemic because of the garbage. She encouraged the council to change those minds and “make Bayonne the gem that it’s supposed to be.”
Godesky’s solution is to look at the sanitation contract and find a better contractor.
She also called for improvements to the 32nd Street and 25th Street bridges, warning that people might get cut on the rust.
“Let’s grab a broom and make Bayonne better,” Godesky said.
City Council responds
In response to her passionate pleas, Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski said that the council is aware of the issue and is working on initiatives. Ashe-Nadrowski noted that the city’s garbage contract is up for bid.
Ashe-Nadrowski acknowledged that the city needs to “step it up.”
Councilman Neill Carroll chimed in, detailing the Clean Sweeps Initiative he started earlier in the year.
He gave a shoutout to Scouts at Trinity Church, who have volunteered to do cleanups in reported problem areas. Their cleanups inspired another group, United We Change, to hold a communitywide cleanup on September 27.
Carroll said that two groups isn’t enough in a city of more then 65,000 people and that everyone needs to do his or her part.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.