Volume 77 / Number 43 | March 26 - April 1, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Still time to salvage a bad garbage plan

The planned three-district Department of Sanitation garage in Hudson Square is a glaring example of planning that doesn’t consider the community’s opinion.

Faced with having to end its use of Gansevoort Peninsula by 2012 as a base for several Sanitation districts’ garbage trucks, the city initially planned to relocate two Sanitation districts to a garage to be built at W. 30th St. and 12th Ave. A uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP, was completed for this site and Community Board 4 also gave approval. But property values around the High Line got red hot, and City Hall decided to relocate the garage to Hudson Square.

Yet, Hudson Square, like the High Line district, is also rapidly changing and upscaling. Although this enclave west of Soho admittedly was once primarily a depot for freight trucks and garbage trucks, it’s now home to a slew of new developments.

To now summarily dump a 140-foot-tall garbage-truck garage at Spring and Washington Sts. is the last thing this nascent, transforming neighborhood needs, and will undoubtedly impede its positive growth. To add many millions of dollars to the garage’s construction cost to make it bigger simply to provide free parking space for Sanitation workers, at the very same time the city is pursuing wise policies to reduce traffic, only increases outrage over a bad plan.

Clearly, there are far better ways to deal with getting the garbage uses off Gansevoort, which the city must do because of its settlement of a lawsuit by Friends of Hudson River Park.

It boils down to the idea of fair share — that a neighborhood or, in this case, community board, should not be overburdened with municipal facilities and services. D.O.S.’s Spring St. megagarage would house three Sanitation districts, 1, 2 and 5. UPS — which currently owns the site — would also use two of the garage’s floors.

Clearly, far too much would be crammed into one building, in one neighborhood. There’s a process, though, that would allow for a more sensible, community-minded and democratic approach. Under the city’s Fair Share Criteria, if a facility is considered “regional,” rather than “local,” Borough President Scott Stringer can write a letter to Mayor Bloomberg requesting a consensus-building process to determine if there are better sites to locate it.

The megagarage plan is clearly “regional,” by definition under the Fair Share Criteria, since it serves more than one Sanitation district.

Stringer should write the letter. And Christine Quinn — who, in addition to being City Council speaker and a probable mayoral candidate, represents Hudson Square — should end her fence-sitting and start doing more to represent her constituents who have pointed out numerous problems with the city’s plan.

More important, City Planning and Sanitation should stop playing verbal gymnastics to justify the unjustifiable. The city should begin an open dialogue with the Downtown community and consider the well-thought-out alternatives that have been suggested. The deadline is 2012. There is still plenty of time to begin a real conversation.

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