Volume 74, Number 45 | March 16 - 22, 2005

City pushing for transfer station, but vague on park

By Albert Amateau

The city’s response on March 7 to questions from the Community Board 2 Waterfront Committee about the proposal for a new Department of Sanitation marine transfer station on the Gansevoort Peninsula had a hole big enough to drive a garbage truck through.

Don MacPherson, chairperson of the committee, said at the March 7 committee meeting that the response completely ignored three key questions about how and when the Department of Sanitation would fund converting the peninsula into a section of the Hudson River Park.

“We don’t have the information we need to make a recommendation to the full community board,” MacPherson said.

The response sheet the city returned to the committee had several glaring omissions. The first question left blank was “How will the Department of Sanitation funding be committed to the park?” The second blank response was “When will the funds be committed and transferred if approved?” and the third blank was “Specifically, how much money will be committed to the park by D.O.S.?”

Connie Fishman, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, the city-state agency building the 5-mile-long waterfront park, attended the March 7 meeting and suggested that the questions were left blank because the proposal was still in the preliminary stages and the city does not yet know the answers.

The plan calls for a new marine transfer station for recyclable paper, glass and metal in return for funding and accelerating construction of a park on the almost-10-acre peninsula between Little W. 12th and Gansevoort Sts., now occupied by a D.O.S. garbage truck parking lot and salt storage shed. The city Economic Development Corporation first brought the marine transfer idea to the Waterfront Committee in September 2003 and came again to make the pitch this January.

Although the proposal is still preliminary, many Village park advocates were hostile to a Sanitation Department facility sharing the peninsula with the park they have long hoped for.

Villagers had heard in January that private carters would also haul recyclables to the transfer station. But according to the city’s March 7 response, private carter trucks might not be held to quite the same clean-air environmental standards as Sanitation trucks.

“The community, the city Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Sanitation and hauling industry representatives and representatives of Visy Paper [the Staten Island company that takes recycled paper] should determine those standards,” the city said.

But Waterfront Committee members said on March 7 that having private carters help determine environmental standards for their trucks was “letting the fox guard the henhouse.”

The committee was anxious to know when D.O.S. would remove the garbage truck garage and salt pile from Gansevoort. The disappointing answer was that it depends on when the city is able to acquire a permanent site on the West Side for the salt pile and a garage — no sooner than 2012.

Indeed, instead of getting off the peninsula as required by the state Hudson River Park Act, the Department of Sanitation in January began building a two-story, 17,000-sq.-ft. structure to “temporarily” accommodate the trucks serving the Village and a few other Manhattan Sanitation districts that are currently parked on Gansevoort.

The Friends of Hudson River Park, a civic group that advocates for the park, is preparing a lawsuit to stop the new garage project. Albert K. Butzel, president of the Friends, said last week that the suit would be filed soon.

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