East 91st Street Garbage Dump Fight Heats Up
By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — A road that cuts through the popular Asphalt Green's ball fields and children's playgrounds leads to a long-defunct trash facility that the city wants to re-open.
Upper East Siders are fighting the plans to bring back the garbage dump to East 91st Street and the FDR Drive, claiming it would be a health hazard to have hundreds of trucks lining up where children play and around such a heavily populated residential community.
"We're baffled and outraged why [City Council] Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg would put a garbage dump smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood," said community activist Jennifer Ratner.
She said the trucks would be "one adult arm's length away" from one of the city’s most widely used little league and soccer fields.
Residents have filed several lawsuits opposing the project, three of which are still pending, and there's a public forum Monday night to discuss the city’s plans for the facility.
Although the city had announced in March that funding for this marine transfer station would be on hold until 2018 — leading to a collective sigh of relief on the Upper East Side — less than a month later city officials announced they had found a way to restore the funding and would fast track the project.
The fiscal year 2012 executive budget includes $125.4 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.
The Bloomberg administration decided to re-open this marine transfer as part of a 2006 plan that included three other new garbage facilities across the city that would enable each borough to handle transportation of its own trash.
The plan would help the city move more garbage onto barges to cut down long-haul truck traffic and would 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.
The new Upper East Side facility would have the capacity to handle up to 5,280 tons of garbage per day and would operate 24 hours a day, six days a week, with garbage trucks lines up along York Avenue before cutting through the Asphalt Green recreation center, according to the Gracie Point Community Council, which is fighting the plan.
But 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.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had heralded the restoration of funding for the East 91st Street transfer station and the rest of the waste plan, applauding the city's "commitment to sustainability on a borough level and [having] facilities moving into diverse neighborhoods, just not low-income neighborhoods of color."
A public forum on the proposed garbage dump is being held Monday, June 6 at the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 E. 93rd St., 6:30 p.m.