Keeping Second Avenue Clean

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Iggy Terranova helped merchants and residents navigate garbage collection challenges during a decade of subway work


  • Ignazio “Iggy” Terranova coordinated the Sanitation Department’s efforts to ensure that trash pickup continued uninterrupted during construction of the Second Avenue subway. Photo: Michael Garofalo

Now that trains have been running on the Second Avenue subway for over a year, it’s sometimes tempting to take the new line for granted. But few who lived or worked along the corridor during the decade-long construction period will soon forget the problems posed by the project — or the people who helped solve them.

While some of the subway-related challenges were immediately clear to anyone walking down Second Avenue, others were less obvious. For example: With so many corners, curbs and sidewalks blocked by barricades and construction equipment, how does trash get picked up?

Ignazio “Iggy” Terranova, citywide community affairs officer with the Department of Sanitation, was the man tasked with making sure that garbage collection proceeded smoothly during the project’s most trying days.

It was anything but a routine undertaking: coordinating garbage collection during the biggest expansion of the subway system in decades necessitated a block-by-block plan tailored to meet the community’s needs during ever-changing construction conditions. “There was no set protocol,” Terranova said. “It wasn’t a cookie-cutter type deal. This was a custom-made bake shop, basically.”

The custom plan required direct engagement with residents and business owners. Terranova walked the length of the subway corridor with colleagues from other city agencies and the MTA, meeting with every Second Avenue business to gauge garbage volume, collect input on problems and concerns, and make arrangements for trash to be put out and picked up as easily as possible.

The walk-throughs were a constant effort. Terranova revisited the strip on a regular basis, meeting with new businesses as they came in and refining block-specific plans to work within changing traffic configurations as construction proceeded. “I think I lost the most weight walking up and down these blocks,” he said with a laugh.

Terranova still cherishes the relationships he built with many merchants over the course of his visits. “I became friends with such good people here,” he said. “Over the years we got to know each other. We attended so many meetings and did so many walk-throughs together.”

Gregg Galante of the Second Avenue Business Alliance called Terranova an “unsung hero” in the building of the Second Avenue subway, writing that he “was quick to find immediate solutions to address garbage pick-up problems, meeting and working with merchants, and residents and stakeholders, listening and getting feed-back from them and letting them know what was going on.”

Terranova said the department tried to be as sensitive as possible to the corridor’s businesses, which faced difficult times during construction. “We understood that the people here were living through a hard time, so we didn’t want to hurt them in terms of summonses,” he said. “So we made sure it was always education first and talking to them and giving them a chance to fix the situation before it came to that.”

With the barricades finally removed and the Second Avenue subway moving below street level at last, Terranova reflected on the years of effort that went into the immense project. “It definitely teaches you how if you really put your head to it, you really can do things in New York City and make it work,” he said.

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