Volume 20, Number 45 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | MARCH 21 - 27, 2008

Editorial

Still time to salvage a bad garbage plan

The planned three-district Department of Sanitation garage in Hudson Square is a glaring example of planning that does not consider the community’s opinion.

Faced with having to end by 2012 its use of Gansevoort Peninsula as a base for several Sanitation districts’ garbage trucks, the city initially planned to relocate two Sanitation districts to a garage to be built at W. 30th St. and 12th Ave. A uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP, was completed for the site and Community Board 4 also gave approval. But City Hall decided to relocate the garage to Hudson Square.

Yet, Hudson Square, like the High Line district, is also rapidly changing and upscaling. Although this enclave west of Soho indeed once was primarily a depot for freight trucks and garbage trucks, it’s now home to a slew of new developments.

To now summarily dump a 140-foot-tall garbage-truck garage at Spring and Washington Sts. is the last thing this nascent, transforming neighborhood needs and will undoubtedly impede its positive growth. To add many millions to the cost and bulk to the building simply to provide free parking space for sanitation workers at the very same time the city is pursuing wise policies to reduce traffic, only adds outrage to a bad plan.

Clearly, there are far better ways to deal with getting the garbage uses off Gansevoort, which the city must do because of its settlement of a lawsuit by Friends of Hudson River Park.

It boils down to the idea of fair share — that a neighborhood, or in this case community board, should not be overburdened with municipal facilities and services. D.O.S.’s Spring St. megagarage would house three Sanitation districts, 1, 2 and 5. UPS — which currently owns the site — would also use two of the garage’s floors for loading and unloading of its tractor-trailers.

Clearly, far too much would be crammed in one building, in one neighborhood, under this ill-conceived plan, which, again, had zero community input.

There is a process in place, though, that would allow for a more sensible, community-minded and democratic approach to siting this burdensome, neighborhood-stifling facility. Under the city’s Fair Share Criteria, if the facility is considered “regional,” rather than “local,” Borough President Scott Stringer can write a letter to Mayor Bloomberg requesting a consensus-building process to determine if there are better sites for this facility.

The megagarage plan is clearly “regional,” by definition under the city’s Fair Share Criteria, since it serves more than one Sanitation district.

Stringer should write the letter and Christine Quinn — who in addition to being City Council speaker and a probable mayoral candidate, also represents this area — should end her fence sitting and start doing more to represent her constituents who have pointed out numerous problems with the city plan.

But more importantly City Planning and Sanitation should stop playing verbal gymnastics to justify the unjustifiable. The city should begin an open dialogue with the Downtown community and consider well-thought out alternatives that have been suggested. The deadline is 2012 and there is still plenty of time to begin a real conversation.



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