Volume 17 • Issue 17 | SEPTEMBER 17 - 23, 2004


A park is in the middle of recycling plan  

For some years now, during discussions of building a 7-acre park on Gansevoort Peninsula as part of the Hudson River Park, the possibility of the city’s reviving the peninsula’s old marine waste-transfer station has hovered in the background. Now, for the first time, the city is coming forward with a real proposal. Its plan is to create a facility on the peninsula for barging recyclable waste to a processing center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

We applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to enter into a long-term contract committing the city to recycling, but more thought must be given to siting facilities to support the plan. A park important to the city’s future like Hudson River Park does not sound like the best place for a recycling barge.

Gansevoort was formerly home to a garbage incinerator, as well as a marine waste-transfer station. More recently, the peninsula has been home to the garbage trucks for several sanitation districts, including the one in Greenwich Village. Park advocates’ enduring goal has been to get this municipal use off the peninsula so the park can be built.

Hudson River Park is a thin, 5-mile ribbon of green along the Lower West Side waterfront with more than a dozen public-use piers. It includes Pier 40, at 14 acres the park’s biggest single area. Yet, the Hudson River Park Trust’s failed attempt last year to find a private developer to transform Pier 40 into a mixed-use park and commercial node, shows this will be a long-term project.

Pier 40 sits on steel piles. Gansevoort is land, or at least landfill made from the ash and garbage of Colonial New Yorkers. It can have grass and trees and be a splendid location in the park.

To the south, the Tribeca section of the park is still waiting for money too — $70 million — and we hope our report this week that the money will be approved this fall is true.

The idea of a park with a garbage-barging facility and a stream of 60 rumbling trucks gives pause for serious concern, to say the least.

First, the Hudson River Park Act expressly states municipal uses are to be removed from the waterfront. In signing the act, the city promised to fulfill this provision. To allow this facility, the state Legislature would have to amend the act.

Second, having diesel-fuel trucks and barges in a park is highly unusual. That these polluting uses would be in close proximity to where young children in sports leagues may well be playing someday is very troubling. Let’s not forget the tugs that would pull these barges are among the worst polluters afloat.

Also, although the proposed facility would be enclosed, we can’t imagine that this whole operation will be odor free, and we know how stinky putrescible waste is — i.e., old tomato cans and milk jugs not rinsed out. Excessive noise may also be a problem.

Although such facilities are too often sited in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, we have to wonder if this is really the best site for this operation? And why can’t it be included at existing garbage barging operations elsewhere in Manhattan?

What’s more, that the trucks would mostly enter from the north from Route 9A would put bikers, joggers and inline skaters on the bikeway at risk of injury and fatalities. One need only look at our blotter this week to learn of a woman who was critically injured by a garbage truck while she was crossing the street in Lower Manhattan.

The city is hinting that accepting this plan could mean Gansevoort’s park will get built sooner. But the park shouldn’t be held hostage in this manner.

Many questions must be answered about this project and there must be a thorough vetting by the community. We have high hopes for the new recycling plan and hope the costs won’t include taking away from our riverside park.

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