Volume 19 Issue 36 | January 19 - 25, 2007

Sanitation parking tower plan reignites C.B. 2 feud

The city plan to build a garbage truck parking garage tower in Hudson Square has reopened a feud at Community Board 2 over whether the area should get more Dept. of Sanitation trucks.

Last week’s Downtown Express article on the proposed garage incorrectly stated that C.B. 2 recently reversed its late 1990s resolution in support of siting a Sanitation garage on the U.P.S. parking lot at Spring and Washington Sts. In fact, Arthur Schwartz, C.B. 2 Waterfront and Parks Committee chairperson, a year ago, had proposed a resolution supporting the lawsuit by Friends of Hudson River Park to force the city to get its garbage trucks off Gansevoort Peninsula, which likely would have moved the trucks to the U.P.S. lot. The move would allow a park to be built on Gansevoort as part of the Hudson River Park. But Schwartz’s resolution failed after a discussion by the board, mainly because some newer members didn’t take kindly to the idea of the garbage trucks being relocated to the Hudson Square lot.

Noting he grew up in Hudson Square back when “rats were as big as cats,” Phil Mouquinho, who owns the nearby P.J. Charlton restaurant on Greenwich St., said at the time, “The area is just starting to gentrify,” and that an influx of garbage trucks could threaten further upscaling. The earlier C.B. 2 resolution supporting just one Department of Sanitation garage at the site still remains on the books, however. But the latest proposal by the city — for a garage for not one, but three garbage truck districts, plus the U.P.S. trucks, a jumbo fuel storage depot and a salt shed on two other sites to boot — is likely to provoke even more opposition from the 50-member board, only about five members of which remain from the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, Schwartz and David Reck, who sparred over the initial resolution on the U.P.S. lot, are, eight years later, once again on opposing sides of the new proposal for a 150-foot-tall mega-garage. Reck is leading a coalition against the garage plan, including his group — Friends of Hudson Square — along with the Tribeca Community Association, the new Urban Glass House condo tower, the Ear Inn and other local restaurants and businesses, and the area’s “major landlords.”

“I am a park supporter,” Reck said. “I just don’t feel that dumping it all [the garbage trucks and facilities] in one neighborhood is fair. They want to move three garbage truck garages down here — plus a salt pile. We’re going to become like the garbage center.” Reck added the fuel depot, located near the Holland Tunnel airshaft, would also be a juicy terrorist target. “There’s 29,000 gallons of flammable stuff there.” They will be filing a lawsuit, he vowed.

Schwartz countered that the only residents negatively impacted would be those in the Urban Glass House just south of the site. “If David Reck wants to defend luxury housing Downtown — this is super-luxury housing — that’s fine,” Schwartz said, adding he’s sure Reck’s lawsuit will be well funded by developers’ money. “What’s David’s alternative — using the [U.P.S.] lot to build luxury housing?” he added.

“The Urban Glass House people are very upset about this,” Reck assured.

Speaking of developers, Reck can also count Donald Trump in his corner. On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that Trump, who’s trying to develop a condo-hotel a few blocks away on Varick St., said he’d offer the community his help in fighting the massive garage. Reck said he hasn’t personally talked to The Donald about it yet.

As for Schwartz’s statements about real estate money behind his lawsuit, he said, “Arthur’s not relevant here. He doesn’t live in the neighborhood, and we’re going to do our own lawsuit.”

Coincidentally, Schwartz, who’s thinking of moving, said that six months ago he looked at a unit at the Urban Glass House and the broker claimed to know nothing about the garage when Schwartz queried him about it. “Either he didn’t know or wasn’t telling,” Schwartz said.

The city will hold a public hearing on its plan Jan. 31 at 60 Washington Square South at 7:30 p.m.

— Lincoln Anderson

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