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Opponents to File Lawsuit in Fight Against E 91st Street Trash Facility

By Amy Zimmer | July 24, 2012 1:50pm

MANHATTAN — Days after the Bloomberg administration was awarded a permit for a controversial 10-story marine waste transfer station at East 91st Street and the East River, Upper East Siders vowed to continue their fight against the city’s plans.

Residents for Sane Trash Solutions plan to file a lawsuit “in the very near future” to stop the facility from rising in the neighborhoods of Yorkville and East Harlem, near the popular Asphalt Green recreation center’s ball fields, the local group said Tuesday.

The group has engaged the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Hale Pickering and Dorr with public interest advocacy attorney Albert Butzel — who is famous for helping defeat the controversial Westway project on Manhattan's West Side in the 1980s — as co-counsel.

“This permitting action by the Army Corps was not unexpected," said Jed Garfield, president of Residents for Sane Trash.

"However, this will not in any way affect our resolve to stop this potentially destructive, harmful and ill-advised project. We are immediately moving forward to challenge the decision, and we will file a lawsuit in federal court in the very near future.”

After receiving the permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is needed for river development, city officials expect to break ground on the facility by the year’s end.

The Bloomberg administration anticipates the $240 million station will be operating by 2015.

But the project’s foes claim that the city’s price tag is grossly underestimating the costs, which they calculate will be closer to $400 million.

The 91st Street facility is part of a citywide Solid Waste Management Plan, passed in 2006, which aims to cut down truck emissions and traffic by moving more trash by barge.

It was designed to enable every borough to bear some responsibility for handling its own trash and lighten the burden of some neighborhoods, like the South Bronx and Greenpoint/Williamsburg which have had a disproportionate number of waste transfer stations.

Those living near the 91st Street, however, are outraged at having garbage trucks rumbling near the rec center and several public housing projects, Metropolitan Hospital and roughly 45 schools, churches and other houses of worship.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, criticizing the Army Corps for ignoring the dock’s impact on the East River’s fish habitat, also pledged to continue the battle.

“It makes no sense to me that, at the same time as the mayor is developing a green necklace around the city elsewhere, he is placing a garbage dump alongside Carl Schurz Park, John Finley Walk and Asphalt Green,” Maloney said in a statement. 

“I am more determined than ever to keep fighting to halt this ill-conceived project.”

Opponents have filed several lawsuits against the project, the latest of which claimed the city should have conducted another environmental review because its estimates of how much trash it will be handling had changed.

The station is designed to handle up to 5,280 tons of waste, but it will only process an average of 720 tons of residential trash (or 72 DSNY trucks) and 780 tons of commercial waste (or 71 commercial trash trucks) each day, sanitation officials have said.