Volume 78 - Number 22 / October 29 - November 4, 2008
West and East Village,
Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Garage proposal opposition

An aerial view of the Hudson Rise park-on-a-garbage-truck-garage plan, which would feature an outdoor pool and other amenities. RIGHT: An inset rendering showing how Hudson Rise would connect to Canal Park, at bottom, and, eventually, Pier 40 in Hudson River Park, via a pedestrian bridge over the highway, at upper left. Inset, a conceptual rendering showing how parkgoers could enjoy the green slopes and public artwork at Hudson Rise.

Garage opponents trying to get a Rise out of city

By Lincoln Anderson

Opponents of the Department of Sanitation’s planned, three-district garage on Spring St. have unveiled a revised alternative plan — complete with a sloping, rooftop park — and are now making a last-ditch pitch to the Bloomberg administration.

Called Hudson Rise, the alternative scheme was done by the Sanitation Steering Committee, a group of Hudson Square-area property owners. Their proposal calls for only two Sanitation districts — Districts 1 and 2 — to be located in a new facility at the west end of Spring St. As for the District 5 garage, they argue it should be located elsewhere, possibly at one of six other sites in Chelsea in Community Board 4.

The total alternative plan would cost half, or almost $200 million less, of what the city has budgeted for the Spring St. site, or $240 million as opposed to $429 million, in tight budget times, they contend.

Also, under the Hudson Rise plan, a shed for 5,000 tons of road salt planned for Spring St.’s south side across from the garage would be relocated, possibly under the Williamsburg Bridge approach ramp. Moving the salt shed — which would draw a steady stream of Sanitation vehicles during snowstorms — would shave hundreds of annual truck trips to the Spring St. location.

Phil Mouquinho, a member of the committee, said they never really appreciated before the salt shed’s impact.

“You’re talking about massive jams, massive congestion,” he said, “marshaling trucks by that salt shed, five to six snowstorms per year.”

The multilevel park would include a narrow section spanning part of Spring St. to connect with the existing Canal Park. Other possible options include an outdoor swimming pool, movie screenings, even a garbage museum.

“All of this holds water,” assured Mouquinho. “It can be done.”

Mouquinho owns P.J. Charlton restaurant on Charlton St. and grew up in the neighborhood. He fears the effect a massive garbage-truck depot would have on the area’s recent upscaling.

“We’re just saying, we’ve come up with a better shell than you have,” he said, referring to Sanitation’s garage plan. “And it’s got a park on top.”

Michael Kramer, a lobbyist for Eugene M. Grant, owner of the sprawling St. John’s Center building just north of the planned garage site, said the alternative offers a win-win solution for the neighborhood. Under the alternative plan, air rights left over from the UPS lot where the garage is planned could be used to develop housing on the St. John’s site.

“If they were to build residential, Mr. Grant thinks the neighborhood needs middle-income housing,” Kramer stated.

The Department of City Planning, however, has already approved the city’s Spring St. garage plan as part of the project’s ULURP, or uniform land use review procedure. The review is wrapping up, and the City Council, after hearings on Nov. 13 and 14, is expected to vote on it on Nov. 19.

If the council approves the project and the the alternative ideas are rejected, opponents plan to file an environmental lawsuit.

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