Volume 76, Number 25 | November 8 - 14, 2006

Villager photos by Jefferson Siegel

A Police Department truck brings a car to the tow pound on Pier 76.

Board 4 starts talking trash; Mulls use of Pier 76

By Albert Amateau

Community Board 4, whose district includes Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, called on the Bloomberg administration last week to consider the option of combining its proposed recycling and commercial waste marine transfer stations on the Lower West Side into one facility on Pier 76.

In a unanimous Nov. 1 resolution, the board joined the Coalition to Protect Our Parks, a group opposed to the city’s proposal to build a marine transfer station for recyclable material on Gansevoort Peninsula and to enlarge the current marine transfer station on Pier 99 at 59th St. to handle commercial waste.

Both of those operations, part of the city’s 20-year Solid Waste Management Plan, threaten the Hudson River Park being built between Chambers and 59th Sts., opponents say.

A view of Pier 76 from the south.

The proposed transfer station on Gansevoort, the 5-acre peninsula designated as a future part of the park, would receive Manhattan’s paper, glass and metal, to be barged to recycling plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The proposed enlargement of the transfer station at W. 59th St., would receive Manhattan’s commercial waste, to be barged to various disposal sites.

“The advantage of combining both operations in one place on Pier 76 is that recycling is collected during the day and commercial waste — essentially restaurant waste — is collected at night,” said John Doswell, chairperson of the C.B. 4 Waterfront and Parks Committee.

Another advantage is that the 3-acre Pier 76, across from the Javits Convention Center, is not near a residential district.

The resolution notes that the Gansevoort transfer station would violate the 1998 state Hudson River Park Act that prohibits nonpark uses on the peninsula. The station, which the city has said would also have a recycling education center compatible with the park, would require a legislative amendment. But Assemblymember Richard Gottfried — a co-author of the park act — along with Assemblymember Deborah Glick and State Senator Tom Duane, have said they would block such an amendment.

As a councilmember whose district included Gansevoort, Quinn took no position on a marine transfer station on the peninsula, according to her aides. Her aides say that it has been widely misreported that Quinn, in fact, had opposed the plan before she became Council speaker. But since becoming Council speaker, she has supported the Bloomberg administration’s S.W.M.P., including the use of both Pier 99 and Gansevoort.

Pier 99, which currently has a marine transfer station for recyclable paper, is not designated as a park pier but its use as a municipal facility is written into the legislation. Private commercial use and enlargement of the Pier 99 transfer station to handle Manhattan’s commercial waste would also need a legislative amendment.

Pier 76, currently serving as the city’s auto tow pound, is slated to be the temporary home of the Police Department’s Mounted Unit, which is to move there from Pier 63 at W. 23rd St. at the end of this year. The city is looking for a permanent home for the horse police, and the tow pound would also need a new location if the city builds the transfer station on the pier.

“Pier 76 would only be acceptable if it freed up Gansevoort and Pier 99,” Doswell said. With the transfer station removed, the 59th St. pier could be used for recreational space even though it is not designated as a Hudson River Park pier.

The C.B. 4 resolution also calls on the city to consider a rail alternative to move commercial garbage out of Manhattan. Friends of Hudson River Park and Brendan Sexton, a consultant and former city Department of Sanitation commissioner, are studying a possible rail transfer alternative.

Doswell told the community board that the rail transfer under study could be built near the 30th St. rail yards and run north in a cut below street level. Much of Manhattan’s commercial waste is taken by truck to a rail loading station in the Bronx. A 30th St. rail transfer for Manhattan’s commercial waste would reduce truck traffic in both boroughs, Doswell said.

S.W.M.P was intended to make each borough handle its fair share of waste, and the C.B. 4 resolution states that the Coalition to Protect Our Parks also supports that goal. The resolution states that the alternatives to the Gansevoort and Pier 99 transfer stations “may accomplish the same goals of the S.W.M.P. in a better way and in a way that does not violate New York State law.”

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