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GOP Mayoral Hopefuls Trash UES Waste Plan, Say Garbage Should Go to NJ

YORKVILLE — Republicans want to make the Garden State the Garbage State.

Republican mayoral candidates plan to block construction of a controversial marine transfer station, and truck Manhattan's trash to New Jersey instead, they said at a debate Thursday night at the 92Y.

GOP hopefuls John Catsimatidis, George McDonald and Joe Lhota all agreed that each borough should handle its fair share of waste — and that the best way to accomplish this was to ship it southwest, across state lines.

"It will not become a marine transfer facility," Lhota said as the audience — filled with opponents of the Upper East Side facility — broke into applause. 

"It will close — in fact, it won't ever open."

Lhota then recalled his tenure as deputy mayor for operations under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, saying that he oversaw the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island as well as a marine transfer station previously located at the East 91st Street site.

He said that he negotiated contracts to ship the city's waste to New Jersey during that same period.

"By doing that, it's actually less expensive than what Mayor Bloomberg wants to do," said Lhota, who stepped down as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to run for mayor. "They should continue to go to New jersey."

McDonald seconded Lhota's idea.

His two grandsons swim at Asphalt Green, an athletic complex at East 91st Street and York Avenue that's halved by a transfer station access road, making him sympathetic to opposition, he said.

"We'll have a solid-waste plan," said McDonald, an advocate for the homeless who founded The Doe Fund. "The garbage trucks just go right to New Jersey, dump it, and come back."

Catsimatidis followed suit.

"I don't think we should have that plant in Manhattan," said Catsimatidis, owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain. "I agree we should ship it to Jersey."

The Democrats present at the debate, which was divided into two political party-based portions, didn't have quite the same idea.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who was greeted by so many boos when she walked onto the stage that a moderator begged the audience to "please be civil" — encountered even more jeers when she stuck with supporting the station.

"Boroughs need to move to greater self sufficiency for their own garbage," she said.

"We need to stop the historical position of placing all our municipal garbage in lower-income communities with people of color. You can boo all you want, but we need a city that fights environmental racism."

Quinn's fellow Democratic candidates Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio, and Sal Albanese all voiced uncertainty about the marine transfer station, saying the issue needed more consideration — without calling for its outright reversal.

City Comptroller John Liu, who is also running for mayor but was late to the debate, missed his opportunity to answer the question.