Volume 74, Number 43 | March 02 - 08, 2005

Threat to sue over garbage truck garage on Gansevoort

By Albert Amateau

The Friends of Hudson River Park have fired off a letter threatening to sue the Department of Sanitation for “a deliberate and particularly egregious violation” of the state Hudson River Park Act regarding the Gansevoort Peninsula.

The Feb.15 letter from the Friends’ attorney, Daniel L. Alterman, to Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Marc Shaw and Department of Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty cites the erection at the end of January of the steel frame of a two-story building on the former site of two incinerator smokestacks on the peninsula.

A spokesperson for the Department of Sanitation, Kathy Dawkins, said on March 1 that “construction is proceeding,” and that a response to the letter is being drafted.

Alterman, however, said, “We sent the letter on Feb. 15 — How long does it take for the city to respond that construction is proceeding? We’ve heard nothing from them and we’re disappointed that our attempt to reach out to the mayor and the department didn’t achieve any results.”

The Friends, a civic group that advocates for the 5-mile-long riverfront park being built by the state/city Hudson River Park Trust, includes several violations of the park act in its letter to the city.

The 8-acre remnant of the 19th-century landfill between Gansevoort and Little W. 12th Sts. is used by Sanitation to store rock salt — for melting ice and snow — and to park garbage trucks that serve the Village and a few other Manhattan districts. The peninsula is supposed to be turned over in the next few years to the Trust

The Friends’ letter cites the act’s requirement to remove the salt pile and the incinerator from the peninsula by Dec. 31, 2003 — a deadline now missed by more than a year — and to use its “best efforts” to remove the Sanitation garage from the peninsula. “This has not occurred,” the letter says.

“The act further provides that when any existing Sanitation use is removed from any part of Gansevoort

Peninsula, that part of the peninsula is thereafter to be used only for park uses,” the letter goes on.

But the new 17,000-sq.-ft. structure rising about 50 ft. high on the west side of the existing garage, formerly the garbage incinerator, was put up with no permits, no notice to the Community Board 2 and no compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the letter says. “It violates the spirit and the letter of the law,” said Alterman.

Indeed, Daniel Klein, director of the D.O.S. office of real estate, has said the structure is “temporary” and will serve for six or seven years as a garage for Sanitation trucks used in the Village or the East Side of Midtown while long-term garages are built elsewhere.

Moreover, the city has proposed another sort of D.O.S. facility for the peninsula, calling on Villagers to support a marine-transfer station for recyclable metal glass and plastic that would be compatible with the park when it is built in six or seven years. But the building rising on what Villagers anticipate as a major section of the Hudson River Park has made the Friends distrust the department’s intentions.

“In the light of all this, Friends have reluctantly concluded that there is no choice but to bring the violations of the Hudson River Park Act before a court and seek redress in a judicial forum,” the letter says.

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