A proposed marine waste transfer station on the Upper East Side has local officials and residents up in arms. Sound familiar?
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the Bloomberg administration received final approval from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to greenlight construction on a marine transfer site on East 91st Street, scheduled to break ground at the end of the year.
Greenpointers have been dealing with the unpleasant reality of the city dumping its trash in their backyard for decades. Community and environmental activists have long been in favor of siting the transfer station on the Upper East Side, believing that other neighborhoods should share their waste burden. Ray Kairys, the Chairperson of Organizations United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE), echoed this sentiment, pointing out that forty percent of the city’s trash is transferred to sixteen different waste transfer stations in the Greenpoint area alone.
“[The marine transfer station] is a step in the right direction,” Kairys said. “We need to reduce the number of transfer stations in the neighborhood and have whatever trash that is processed go out by rail or by barge,” noting that roughly five thousand garbage trucks rumble through Greenpoint and Williamsburg on a daily basis.
Local officials in both the Upper East Side and Greenpoint are in agreement that waste transfer sites have no place in residential neighborhoods. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents both neighborhoods and part of Williamsburg, said in a statement that her experience fighting against waste facilities in Greenpoint “helped inform” her opinion on the E. 91st Street site.
“It is also worth noting that no residential trash from Manhattan is being sent to Brooklyn now, and it is not clear that any commercial trash would come to the East 91st Street site were that facility to be built, because costs there are expected to be significantly higher than at existing facilities,” read Maloney’s statement.
Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who represents the Upper East Side district that would host the marine transfer station, blamed Mayor Bloomberg for perpetuating the notion that Manhattan’s garbage is shipped to the outer boroughs, when in fact all residential trash travels through the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and across the George Washington Bridge to incinerators outside Elizabeth, New Jersey.
“I clearly empathize with the Greenpoint community,” said Kellner. “What the Bloomberg administration is doing in Greenpoint and in Manhattan on East 91st Street is using a grandfathered permit as opposed to recognizing that the community has changed and transformed.”
Kellner added that with the city facing a tight fiscal budget it would be irresponsible to build a $250-500 million “monstrosity.” He has already filed a lawsuit with the State Supreme Court to challenge the project.
One of Kellner’s co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Residents for Sane Trash Solutions, a community group similar to OUTRAGE, which represents residents on the Upper East Side and East Harlem. Sane Trash Solutions President Jed Garfield said many of the concerns that the impacted neighborhoods have regarding the transfer station mirror those in Greenpoint: respiratory illness, public safety and truck traffic. Asthma in particular is a disease that Greenpoint residents know all too well thanks to truck pollution and other environmental issues in the region. Garfield said that their communities share Greenpointers’ concerns and wants to avoid the same health issues that have plagued the neighborhood for years.
“Asthma rates [among children] are gonna skyrocket as they have in every neighborhood [with a waste transfer site],” said Garfield. “Some people say, ‘well they have one in Greenpoint so you should have one in your neighborhood’, which is just an uncaring attack on our youth.”
The city has until August 17th to respond to Kellner’s lawsuit.
Type your name and email address below, then click "Submit" to be added to our spam-free email list.