For anyone who walks down Ditmas Park's main avenues, one thing is apparent: the neighborhood has a garbage problem.
Trash bins on main roads including Cortelyou Road and Newkirk and Church avenue are frequently found to be overflowing, with garbage littering the sidewalks in front of stores and down residential blocks.
"The garbage issue is big," said Robin Redmond, executive director of the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC).
"Just from Newkirk Plaza alone, we generate a bag of garbage for each of those pails a day," she said. The trash in the plaza is picked up two times a week, as it is not considered a commercial district.
"Garbage from the plaza sits on the street for three days," Redmond continued, noing that people tend to add their own garbage on the pile of trash, making the situation worse.
The problem is not unique to Newkirk Plaza. On Cortelyou Road from Coney Island Avenue to East 17 Street, garbage is picked up Monday through Saturday. But on the road from East 18th and 19th Streets, trash is only picked up twice a week.
"Garbage will overflow, sometimes with residential garbage," Redmond said.
According to the Department of Sanitation, businesses and residents are required to keep sidewalks clear of garbage. This includes tree pits and other areas of residential walkways, which Redmond noted have been hotspots for litter.
"I don't know how many times I've gone out an I'm taking out food, beer, soda [from tree pits]," she said. "But where are they going to throw it out?"
The issue has not gone unnoticed by elected officials, either.
At a public budget forum on Sept. 10, 2012, Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D- 42) brainstormed with constituents on how to spend state funds alotted to the district.
Meeting attendees mentioned a wide array of projects they would like to see funded, and many agreed funds should be allotted to improving the garbage issue. Solar powered trash bins on the neighborhood's main roads were suggested.
Though the idea is an innovative one, it presents problems of its own.
"If they're broken or vandalized, who's then responsible for them?" Redmond said. "They become an expense."
Redmond also pointed to a systemic problem that adds to the issue. "There are less [garbage] trucks today than they had three years ago," she said. "It's unrealistic [to expect] the Department of Sanitation to pick up every day."
"The problem is capacity."