The New York City Council wants to re-open the 91st street garbage transfer station. Initially opened in 1940 when Yorkville was an industrial community, it did not affect the quality of life in Yorkville. It ceased operations in the 1990s, when Yorkville became the wonderful residential community it is.
Backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn who don’t live near the now defunct facility, the New York City Council set aside $125 million to build a new ten story waste processing facility on 91st Street, right near the Asphalt Green Athletic Complex. Quinn, the candidate most closely associated with the project, has been a staunch supporter.
The City plans to dump garbage at the MTS and then ship that trash on barges to costly and environmentally unfriendly landfills that have not been identified yet. That multi-step, hugely expensive process will send garbage barges to nowhere.
Yorkville, the neighborhood for this proposed East River transfer station, Yorkville in the Upper East Side, has about 47,000 residents. The new facility, which is larger than any existing or planned facility in the City, will operate 24 hours a day, six days a week. Garbage, delivered by garbage trucks entering through the ramp that will go through the Asphalt Green athletic complex, will be processed at the facility, and then loaded onto barges in the East River. The facility will be capable of processing 5,280 tons of garbage daily and will bring 700 fueled trucks into the area every single day.
A garbage transfer station in a popular residential community can and will have an affect on the quality of life of the residents.
One must consider the disturbing stench, the noise and the vermin it will bring. The environmental impact from the pesticides could be life threatening. Diesel Emissions is also an environmental and health threat. The ability to have a quality of life, and the safety of children and adults alike crossing streets where these very garbage trucks cannot see people walking. Residents feel that next door to an athletic complex is the wrong place to open a garbage transfer station. Programs of Asphalt Green include swimming, gymnastics, sports, and fitness programs. With an ample amount of garbage near this facility, the quality of activities provided will be compromised. Garbage trucks will enter the station on a ramp that actually goes through the Asphalt Green athletic complex, which could pose risks to the security of the people who are using the outdoor playground and field for activities. There have already been reports of garbage trucks hitting pedestrians in the very same neighborhood.
Our city politicians are so concerned for the amount of soda a child drinks – but not for their environmental safety?
Opponents of the transfer station sued the city officials, using this principle as a basis for the illegality of this garbage transfer station.
The lower court ruled that Asphalt Green is not a public park subject to the Public Trust Doctrine, and therefore does not require legislative approval before the ramp that would intersect the park for the garbage transfer station was constructed. Asphalt Green is a recreational complex with a swimming pool, a gym and a playground, according to court papers. Seventy percent of the time, the public’s access is restricted to people who pay “substantial membership fees,” the decision said.
Over 1,300 people have signed a petition against the construction of this facility.
The influx of 700 hundred garbage trucks a day will no doubt cause an incredible chaos and amount of traffic in the Upper East Side. Add that to the congestion of the construction of the Second Avenue Subway and living in Yorkville will be a living hell.
Jed Garfield, president of Residents for Sane Trash Solutions, a community group that has formed to fight the plan
The group is behind one of several lawsuits that have been filed against the project, including one that claims the city should have conducted another environmental review because the station could be saddled with 4,300 tons of garbage per day, more than double the estimate when the city initially conducted its review of the site.
Those against the dump also claim that the city’s price tag grossly underestimates the costs, which they calculate could balloon to $400 million.
The station is part of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan, which aims to cut truck emissions and traffic by moving more trash by barge. It was also to designed to force each borough to bear the burden of its trash, instead of sending it all to Brooklyn or the South Bronx.
Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner (D-Upper East Side/Yorkville/Roosevelt Island) released the following statement today in response to the audit report issued by the US Department of Transportation’s Inspector General.
On August 23rd of this year, Kellner reported: “Yesterday, the federal government agreed that the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station is a danger to all New Yorkers. The bombshell report by the Inspector General of the US DOT is in stark contrast with the FAA’s assertion that it has done everything possible to reduce bird strikes against airplanes. This report leaves no doubt that marine transfer stations – like the one proposed at east 91st street – attract birds and leads to more bird strikes. Clearly, allowing the East 91st Street MTS to go through would create a greater risk of bird strikes. Three years ago, a bird strike disabled an airplane after it left one of New York’s runways. Thankfully, the skills of Captain Chesley Sullenberger turned what could have been a major disaster into the Miracle on the Hudson. But not every pilot can be a Captain Sullenberger. By building East 91st Street MTS, we are inviting another incident and New York may not be as lucky as we were on that January day.
The FAA, Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn have refused to recognize the danger that the MTS plays by its proximity to our airports. This DOT report should serve as a wake up call that lives will be put at risk if the MTS is allowed to go forward. Why the Mayor would want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to put lives at risk is beyond reasonable comprehension.”
Assembly Member Kellner serves as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the construction of the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station.
In the words of Carolyn B. Maloney, Member of Congress, “91st street is an absurd location for a waste transfer station.” The reason why the city is considering placing MTS in that location is simply because that is where it was previously located. However, when the original station was built in 1940, it was primarily a commercial area. Now, Gracie Points is the home to thousands of residents and to Asphalt Green, a huge recreation center. Commercial areas are a better option for such facilities. However, the EIS states that the presence of such a facility would greatly enhance the city’s solid waste management infrastructure.
Many people who reside in the Yorkville neighborhood are not even aware of this or think it’s a done deal. Anyone who lives in this neighborhood — or if you know people who live in Yorkville should take action immediately and get involved. Spread the word. You can contact Residents for Sane Trash Solutions and the East 93rd Street Block Association
Fight for your neighborhood, your quality of life, your safety, the safety of your children, your neighbors, and for your property values.
(Full disclosure: This article is the opinion of Ross Ellis, New York City real estate broker and not the opinions of Halstead Property, LLC where I am a broker.)
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Ross Ellis is also the Examiner for:
National Parenting Examiner
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