Those mountains of now-melting snow were concealing a trashy time capsule of Christmas trees and other garbage, buried since the first blizzard socked the city on Dec. 26.
And now pedestrians are negotiating the suddenly filthy sidewalks that property owners are discovering they must clean themselves — or face a $100 fine.
“They should put it all together, bundle it back up and leave it out for regular refuse,” Sanitation Department spokesman Keith Mellis said.
City homeowners are required to clean the sidewalks outside their homes and 18 inches into the street.
The sanitation department had advised people to dig out buried trash so it could be collected, but tons of it got left behind anyway -- from bags of recyclables to tossed TVs – and it’s only emerged during the recent thaw.
Neal Dunatov, of Small Property Owners of New York, manages four Upper East Side buildings and said he is diligent about keeping the sidewalks tidy.
“I’ll get a ticket for gum,” he said, adding that he has Christmas trees he just dug out that still need to be picked up.
Massive snowfall this winter — 57.7 inches in Central Park thus far — led the city to suspend trash pickup and street cleaning five times since Dec. 26, Mellis said.
“When Mother Nature throws [the storms] back-to-back, it’s more challenging,” to keep the streets clean when crews are plowing, he said.
Along 37th street near Third Avenue in Murray Hill, thawed Christmas trees line the curbs, still green and fresh-looking.
Jonathan Klein, 40, of Murray Hill, said it’s more than just the trees.
“It’s pretty dirty,” he said of the neighborhood. “You can see papers in the street, cans in the street.”
Bob Zuckerman, executive director of Lower East Side Business Improvement District, said the group's 400 businesses keep their sidewalks clean with a three-person trash pickup crew.
"If you look at the blocks that are in our BID area ... it’s a lot cleaner than some of the other blocks," he said.
But Zuckerman blames an unusually harsh winter and not the city for those pile-ups.