At 4:30 a.m. every morning residents of Genessee Avenue and the surrounding streets wake up to the roars of Gaeta Recycling trucks parked on a plot of vacant lot assessed as a residential property near West Railway Avenue.
“We can hear the trucks starting up at five o’clock in the morning,” said Eleanor Webber, a resident of Knickerbocker Avenue. Webber said she usually wakes up when workers from the company begin revving their engines during the early morning hours.
“You can’t sleep through it,” said Webber. “I’m awake because you can hear the engines going when they’re backing up you can hear the beep, beep, beep.”
Webber is not alone, other residents in nearby avenues have said the trucks wake them up every morning.
The city has a noise ordinance that states between 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. noise pressure levels cannot exceed 50 decibels in both commercial and residential neighborhoods. A rudimentary phone application used to measure the noise levels show the trucks engine noise exceed the levels set in the city’s law code.
“I’ve never gotten a call,” said Donna Nelson-Ivy, director of the city’s health department, when asked if her department issued any violations to the company. “I’ve never received one or a complaint.”
Residents complain not only about the sound that forces them out of sleep, but also the stench coming from the company’s trucks and facilities.
“During the summer it’s really terrible. You cannot live here during the summer because of the smell,” asserted Dzhamilya Karabasheva, resident who has been living in the area for six years.
Karabasheva said during the summer turning on the air conditioning unit brings in a foul smelling odor.
“The smell, it’s just horrible in the summer, you can’t even drive down the street. You have to roll your windows up,” said Jessica Lopez, another resident. “They park the trucks right in front of our houses to unload, and it’s really strong smelling.”
Opening the windows, brings in dust and flies, said Karabasheva.
“In the summer time you can’t have the windows open,” added Grinkin. Grains of dust settle and fill the window pane within a matter of an hour or two, said Karabasheva. “My kitchen and their bedrooms, really, if you open the windows in an hour or two hours, there’s dust all over,” said Karabasheva.
Karabasheva referred to her neighbor Saime Mirza who lives on Genessee. Mirza said the stench of garbage is especially strong during the summer when it rains. Flies are another problem point out both.
“Always the flies, different types of flies, and I think it’s from the garbage,” said Karabasheva. She explained that when windows and doors are left slightly opened insects enter into her apartment.
“The street is all damaged over there. I changed my springs, my brakes,” said John Castaneda, a longtime resident who lives near the company’s facility. Castaneda pointed to the large craters that have formed on West Railway Avenue, the only exit for residents of the one way Genessee Avenue.
Residents blame the damaged roads on the company. “You have two ton trucks up and down the streets and the streets are destroyed,” remarked Lopez.
Marc Grinkin, who worked for the company as a teenager some decades ago, contacted this paper after reading Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, had received $4,150 in contribution from the company in March.
Grinkin said he has been complaining to the councilman since August 2013.
A petition bearing the signatures of 29 area residents was submitted to the council president and the mayor, said Grinkin.
The petition listed a number of violations the company was committing: employees of the company driving trucks in the wrong direction on a one way, trucks blocking fire hydrants on a regular basis, excessive noise, and heavy dust escaping the facility.
A reporter observed trucks being parked on the sidewalk and vehicles traveling in the wrong direction.
The petition also mentioned a number of tax issues with the company’s properties.
“Tax records show on 192-194 Genessee Ave,” wrote Grinkin in his petition, “that it is a vacant lot with taxes of $1,353. Building permits were issued in 2007 for a building that was built on that property.”
The tax assessor’s office confirmed the assessment; indeed, in 2014 the taxes went up to $1,476, according to tax data.
Grinkin mentioned two properties that are listed as residential when the company was utilizing them to park large recycling commercial vehicles: 184-186 Genessee Avenue and 188-190 Genessee Avenue, both properties combined pay $10,000 in taxes, according to city records.
“I can’t tell you that I got one,” said Jeffery Jones, the city’s mayor, when asked if he received Grinkin’s petition. “I normally would give it to the respective department if I had [received it].”
Grinkin’s petition bore timestamps from the mayor’s office and the city council office. Sayegh said he received the petition, but kept his remarks on the subject entirely off the record.
Grinkin said he saw Sayegh visiting Anthony Gaeta, the company’s owner on numerous occasions, and suspects because the company has been contributing to Sayegh’s campaign his petition went unaddressed.
Grinkin thought out loud, Sayegh has been shutting down clubs and bars over quality of life issues, why has he not gone after this company? Grinkin, who has been fighting the company since last summer without much success, said a light bulb came on when he learned about the contributions; he said it explained the inaction of his councilman.
“You know, money talks,” commented Lopez.
“[I] just want Gaeta to follow the laws which shouldn’t be hard and it’s just bull that Andre let him get away with it,” Grinkin said.
Gaeta did not respond to multiple calls seeking his comments for this story.