Volume 75, Number 41 | March 1 -7 2006

Trash talking on Gansevoort; city still wants transfer station

By Albert Amateau

The Department of Sanitation told a City Council committee hearing on Feb. 7 that it would like to build a marine transfer station for recyclable waste on the Gansevoort Peninsula sometime in the future as part of its 20-year solid-waste management plan.

However, the 8-acre peninsula, where the department currently parks garbage trucks and stockpiles street salt, is designated by the New York State Hudson River Park Act of 1998 as part of the Hudson River Park

And last year, Friends of Hudson River Park, community-based advocates for the 5-mile-long riverfront park, sued the sanitation department and won a settlement in October in which the department agreed to get its trucks and salt off Gansevoort by 2013 and turn the peninsula over for park use.

The settlement also provided that the department would pay $21 million to the Hudson River Park Trust as rent for use of the peninsula for the next seven years. The Trust is the city-state agency building the park.

So Albert Butzel, president of the Friends, told the Council Sanitation Committee in February that the group opposes any new nonpark uses for the peninsula, including a marine transfer station.

But Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said at the hearing that the lawsuit settlement does not preclude a marine transfer station for recyclables on Gansevoort. He contended that the trucks and salt could be off the peninsula and a marine transfer station could be compatible with the park.

“However, we are aware that any new transfer facility at Gansevoort would require an amendment to the Hudson River Park Act,” Doherty said.

Doherty said the proposal for the Gansevoort facility is in “the conceptual stages of planning” and “is part of what the city would like to see happen in the future” in terms of waste disposal.

Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried, a co-author of the 1998 park act, and Deborah Glick, whose district includes the peninsula, said in a joint letter to the Council that “any solid-waste management plan that include a Gansevoort facility is simply unrealistic.” The assemblymembers insisted that retaining any city sanitation facility on the peninsula “violates the letter of the statute and the clear intent of the legislation.”

Daniel Alterman, the attorney representing the Friends, acknowledged last week that the settlement of the lawsuit requires only that the garbage trucks and salt pile be removed from the peninsula and that the issue of a marine transfer station was not part of the settlement.

“That being said,” Alterman added, “if anyone tried to build any nonpark uses on the peninsula, the Friends would do everything possible to oppose it. We worked hard for this settlement and the city should abide by its spirit.”

The city’s efforts to establish marine transfer stations as part of its solid-waste management strategy is intended to reduce the number of polluting city garbage trucks and private commercial waste haulers on the city streets.

The Gansevoort recycling transfer station idea was presented to Community Board 2 more than two years ago by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which suggested that the facility could serve as a park-compatible environmental education center. The deal would also have involved payment of an unspecified sum for conversion of the peninsula to park use.

But the Community Board 2 Waterfront Committee decided there were too many unanswered questions to approve or disapprove the scheme. The board felt that questions that needed to be answered were the number of trucks that would bring recyclable material to be loaded onto barges and their impact on the park.

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