DNAinfo: Rally Planned Against East 91st Street Garbage Dump
By Amy Zimmer
June 14, 2011
Original available here
Hundreds of Upper East Siders are expected to fill the Asphalt Green's basketball court Wednesday evening to make a stink about a proposed waste transfer station for East 91st Street.
Residents are worried that the facility's ramp, which would bisect the popular Asphalt Green's ballfields, will bring up to 54 garbage trucks an hour barreling through the neighborhood on their way to dump up to 5,280 tons of trash a day at the station.
They also worry that the neighborhood's air quality — already considered among the dirtiest in the city, according to a 2009 Health Department survey — will only worsen with increased truck traffic.
"I love going to camp at Asphalt Green," first grader Skylar Ella Goldberg wrote in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg that was posted on a Facebook site dedicated to battling the site.
"Please don't put a garbage dump there," she wrote. "It will be smelly. I can't go to that park if it is stinky. My class can't go there either."
Re-opening the site at East 91st Street along the East River was part of a larger plan the Bloomberg administration passed in 2006 to enable each borough to handle transportation of its own trash and help the city move more garbage onto barges to cut down long-haul truck traffic.
The city wanted to decrease the burdens on some outer-borough neighborhoods, such as the South Bronx, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, that complained about having more than their fair share of dumps.
Though the community has long been fighting the plans, the fiscal year 2012 executive budget includes $125 million for the new garbage facility. Last month, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said his department was hoping to have the site up and running by 2014.
"It is precisely because of our can-do attitude and fight that there are still no shovels in the ground at 91st Street," City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin wrote to constituents. "But make no mistake about it, we have a big battle ahead of us."
A spokesman from the Department of Sanitation said, "The facility is specifically designed to ensure that there will be no trucks queuing on the street," adding that the site passed the public review process in 2006.
An appellate court recently dealt a blow to the residents, ruling that the city doesn't need legislative approval for the garbage facility's ramp at East 91st Street and the East River. It said that Asphalt Green is not a public park that needs state approval for non-park uses since many of its facilities require membership fees.
Because the transfer station sits less than 300 feet from two public housing projects, the Stanley Isaacs Houses and John Holmes Towers, State Assemblyman Micah Kellner has introduced legislation that would make it illegal to site such facilities within 800 feet of public housing complexes in the city.
Megan Antonelli posted her alternative proposal on Facebook: send the garbage slated for East 91st Street to the four other sites discussed in the 2006 plan and use their spot for a "state of the art composting and organic farm similar to what Michelle Obama has at the White House.
"The Gracie Point Organic Farm and Compost Center would support Mayor Bloomberg's desire to leave a green legacy on the city and serve to educate city children on healthy eating and the principals of reduce, reuse and recycle," she wrote.