Volume 76, Number 10 | July 26 - August 1, 2006

Local politicians, activists, boards are not on board with barging plan

By Albert Amateau

The city’s new 20-year Solid Waste Management Plan passed by the City Council on July 19 includes a marine transfer station for recyclable trash to be built on the 8-acre Gansevoort Peninsula, a facility that Hudson River Park advocates have vowed to block.

The 1998 state Hudson River Park legislation includes the peninsula between Gansevoort and Little W. 12th Sts. as part of the 5-mile-long riverfront park. State jurisdiction of the peninsula is acknowledged in the S.W.M.P., which says at one point, “The proposed Gansevoort facility may require an amendment to the Hudson River Park Act, the approval of which is uncertain at this time.”

State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, a co-author of the 1998 legislation, is not at all uncertain about whether an amendment would be needed. He said last week that any nonpark use of it would certainly require an amendment by the legislature, which he would oppose.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick, whose district includes the peninsula and who has opposed the Gansevoort transfer station since it was first proposed more than a year ago, intends to continue the fight against it.

State Senator Tom Duane also vowed to oppose the facility when it comes up in Albany.

“It is mind-boggling to me that the Gansevoort Peninsula is even being considered for such a facility,” Duane said at a June hearing on the S.W.M.P.

Legislators, Community Boards 2 and 4 covering the Village and Chelsea, and park advocates have opposed the Gansevoort facility on the grounds that dozens of trucks carrying recyclables each day for barge transport to a recycling center in Brooklyn would be incompatible with the peninsula’s use as a park. They say it would also make the Hudson River Park bikeway and walkway intolerably dangerous.

A lawsuit last year by Friends of Hudson River Park, an advocacy group, resulted in a settlement in which the Department of Sanitation agreed to end its current uses on Gansevoort by 2012. The settlement also calls for Sanitation to get off the Hudson River Pier on 59th St. by 2008. Both locations would be turned over to the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city agency building the park. But the S.W.M.P. also calls for a 59th St. marine transfer station for commercial garbage.

Gottfried said last week that a marine transfer station on the W. 59th St. pier for commercial garbage would also require state legislation, and would not get support from local legislators.

Daniel Alterman, lawyer for the Friends, said last week that while the lawsuit settlement did not preclude the transfer stations on Gansevoort and 59th St., putting them at the two locations would certainly violate the spirit of the agreement. Alterman said the Friends would probably go to court to make sure the transfer stations are dropped.

The S.W.M.P., however, commits Sanitation to investigating alternative solid waste transfer stations in Manhattan even while seeking approvals for 59th St. and Gansevoort.

The department will seek other locations with the collective capacity to transfer up to 3,000 tons per day of commercial garbage, the new law says. An aide to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who opposed the Gansevoort facility when she was just a councilmember but supports it now as speaker, said in a recent meeting that the city is exploring potential rail transfer of garbage as an option to the barging plan.

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