Volume 79, Number 02 | June 17 - 23, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Megagarage opponents are still pushing alternatives

By Albert Amateau

The Hudson Square Sanitation Steering Committee last week showed the Department of Sanitation the details of its Hudson Rise plan for a scaled-back, two-district Sanitation garage with a park on top at Spring and Washington Sts.

The community-friendly Hudson Rise plan, however, depends on Sanitation’s agreeing to remove District 5 garbage trucks from the city-approved plan for a three-district Spring St. garage. Hudson Rise calls for developing the UPS-owned Spring St. site to accommodate only Sanitation trucks serving Districts 1 and 2 — Greenwich Village and Lower Manhattan.

Phil Mouquinho, a steering committee member who attended the June 12 meeting that included Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler and representatives of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, reported that Department of Sanitation officials said they would look at the Hudson Rise plan and would respond to it this week.

The Hudson Rise plan calls for a two-district Spring St. D.O.S. garage no taller than 75 feet. The city’s plan for a three-district garage calls for a 120-foot-tall building. Both plans would allow UPS, the current owner of the lot, to continue using the site as a holding area for its delivery garage on Greenwich St.

Mouquinho said also that D.O.S. officials indicated last Friday that the department had investigated two of three proposed alternative sites for the District 5 equipment.

One site, which extends between W. 50th and W. 51st Sts. between 11th and 12th Aves., includes a parking lot owned by Gary Spindler, an ally of the steering committee willing to sell the property to the city for a District 5 garage, Mouquinho said. The location, however, includes two other adjacent properties that might have to be acquired for the department’s use.

The other alternative for District 5 trucks is in the Riverside South property on W. 60th St., now owned by the residential developer Extell, which acquired the site from the Trump Organization. Sanitation officials said Extell’s plans for five buildings comprising 3 million square feet at the site is currently undergoing the city’s uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP. Mouquinho said it appeared Extell was unwilling to alter the project to accommodate a District 5 garage.

Department officials on Friday refused to talk about putting a District 5 garage on Pier 76 at W. 36th St., according to Matthew Washington, assistant director of Friends of Hudson River Park who also attended the June 12 meeting. Washington noted that the Friends’ report on Pier 76 two years ago indicated there was space on the pier for a single-district D.O.S. garage, as well as a marine waste-transfer station, plus the auto tow pound that currently occupies the pier across from the Javits Convention Center.

The Friends, a park advocacy group, settled a lawsuit in 2005 calling for D.O.S. to get its Districts 2, 4 and 5 trucks off the Gansevoort Peninsula between Gansevoort and Little W. 12th Sts. so that the 8-acre peninsula would be ready for park use by the end of 2012. The settlement called for significant payments by Sanitation to the Hudson River Park Trust, the city-state agency building the 5-mile-long riverfront park, if Sanitation remains on the peninsula beyond 2012.

The Friends would be willing to forgo the payments after 2012 if D.O.S. needed more time to find an alternative to Spring St. for its District 5 trucks, Washington said. He added, however, that the Friends would want a time limit on any suspension of payment.

“We would not sign off on an open-ended suspension,” he said.

Earlier this year, a coalition of property owners in Hudson Square and Tribeca filed a lawsuit challenging Sanitation’s Spring St. plan. The property owners, including several members of the Sanitation Steering Committee, charged that the settlement of the Friends lawsuit, which forced Sanitation to propose the three-district Spring St. project, was in effect an unlawful change in the Hudson River Park’s legislation. The suit also charged that the department’s decision to locate the three-district garage at Spring St. was arbitrary and that the department failed to conduct a good-faith review of an alternative at Block 675, a site at W. 30th St. at 11th Ave.

The city responded last week saying that Sanitation thoroughly reviewed all potential alternatives. The city’s response also said that challenging the 2005 settlement of the Friends of Hudson River Park’s suit was years too late. The settlement challenge should have been brought within four months of its signing, not three and a half years, the city said.

The property owners’ action against D.O.S. was originally before State Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner. But in April city attorneys moved to transfer the case to State Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman, who brokered and signed the settlement of the Friends’ lawsuit against Sanitation.

The coalition of property owners agreed with the transfer to Stallman, even though their case is partly based on challenging the validity of the settlement.

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