Volume 76, Number 1 | June 6 - 12, 2007

Villager photo by Elisabeth Robert

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, at podium, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other politicians from the boroughs held a press conference in front of the decommissioned Gansevoort Peninsula marine transfer station last week to stress the need for bringing the transfer station back online for barging recyclables.

Mayor, Quinn say Village must get transfer station

By Albert Amateau

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and environmental activists from Williamsburg and the South Bronx came down to the Gansevoort Peninsula along with Department of Sanitation officials and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on a hot Thursday afternoon last week to advocate for the proposed marine transfer station on the peninsula.

The event was timed because the transfer station, which would move recyclable glass, metal and plastic to a plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, would require an amendment to the state Hudson River Park Act, and the New York Stage Legislature is nearing its summer adjournment.

But a trio of Village and Chelsea legislators, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and State Senator Tom Duane, are adamantly against Sanitation facilities remaining any longer than necessary on the peninsula, which has been designated for inclusion in the Hudson River Park now under construction.

The three legislators last week affirmed their determination to block any proposed amendment to the park act and insisted that alternative strategies had not been adequately explored.

However, the Bloomberg administration believes the Gansevoort transfer station for recyclables is a crucial element in the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan, aka SWAMP, which is intended to make each borough bear the burden of handling its own garbage. Quinn, who came out in support of the marine transfer station last year when she became speaker of the Council, supports the administration and came to the peninsula on May 31 to say it again, even though her Village constituency is not in favor of it.

“We’re calling on Albany to do the right thing,” said Bloomberg. “It’s not a simple local issue, it’s key to the entire SWAMP.”

Bloomberg said that Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat, of Washington Heights, would introduce the amendment in the Assembly. But because the proposal had not yet been assigned a legislative number, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno were not familiar with the proposal and would not comment, according to their aides.

“There is no other place for it,” said Bloomberg referring to the Gansevoort transfer station. “If this doesn’t happen, we’ll keep polluting our air.” The marine transfer for recyclables on Gansevoort and another proposed marine transfer for commercial waste at Pier 99 at W. 59th St. would cut more that 5,000 Sanitation truck trips a year, according to the Bloomberg administration.

Quinn said the proposed marine transfer facility, which is planned to include an educational component about recycling, would be compatible with the park use of Gansevoort.

“It’s fair,” Quinn said. “We’re done with the days of putting noxious uses in the outer boroughs and communities of color.”

But Gottfried said in a telephone interview that the administration’s insistence that there are no alternatives to Gansevoort is “hogwash.” Gottfried said he and Glick had made alternative suggestions, “not in someone else’s backyard but in my backyard.” The idea of putting a marine transfer station just north of W. 34th St. on Pier 76, which is not earmarked for park use and currently accommodates the auto tow pound and the police Mounted Unit, has been ignored, Gottfried said.

A potential rail transfer station at W. 34th St. in Hudson Yards is another alternative that hasn’t been studied, said Gottfried.

“They may say it has been studied, but they won’t show us a document,” Gottfried said

Duane said CSX and Metro-North, which control the West Side rail connection, have indicated the line could accommodate trains taking trash out of Manhattan.

“There is also Pier 57,” Duane said. He acknowledged that the Hudson River Park Trust has designated the Witkoff organization as the commercial developer of Pier 57, at W. 15th St., but he said the project — for a banquet hall and major event space — seems to be in limbo. “I’ve spoken to people about Pier 57 as a possible marine transfer site and a lot of them are O.K. with it,” Duane said.

Glick agreed that alternatives have been virtually ignored.

“It’s always been clear that if any piece of the SWAMP doesn’t work, the city would go back and fix it,” Glick said. “And why does this have to be done quickly? The city can’t even begin to work on Gansevoort until 2012. A marine transfer station on Pier 76 could be operational by then,” she said.

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