KIPS BAY — Residents and politicians slammed plans for a new sanitation garage at First Avenue and East 25th Street at a public hearing on the controversial project this week.
The proposed Kips Bay garage complex — which would house 163 garbage trucks, street sweepers and salt trucks, along with fuel and equipment — has sparked outrage in the community, with residents raising concerns about noise and air quality and pedestrian safety.
More than 100 people turned out to the Tuesday night hearing at Hunter College, and everyone who spoke was opposed to putting an 81,000-square-foot garage, which would operate 24 hours a day, on the current site of Hunter's Bellevue School of Nursing.
“[This proposal] is only creating anger and animosity,” Kips Bay resident Peter Goodman said. “This is a valuable site. If it’s going to be become available, there are far better things it could be used for.”
The city proposed building the garage, which would also house Department of Sanitation offices, after announcing plans to move the Bellevue School of Nursing to a new state-of-the-art cancer center and nursing school on the Upper East Side.
Department of Sanitation officials said it makes sense to build a garage in Kips Bay, because there are currently no sanitation facilities on the East Side between Pier 36 on the Lower East Side and East 99th Street.
Some of the vehicles that serve District 6, which covers Kips Bay, come from Chelsea, and others come all the way from Washington Heights, said Dan Klein, director of real estate for the Sanitation Department.
Politicians and residents said they understood the need for a new facility, but they questioned the location near Bellevue Hospital, the VA Hospital and NYU Langone Medical Center, and near large residential complexes including Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village and Waterside Plaza.
They also raised concerns about the fact that the city has not announced plans for two other parcels of land on the same block that will become available when the nursing school moves.
"There is no particular urgency to start with a garage and figure out the rest of the block later,” State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who lives nearby, said at the meeting.
Community Board 6 has passed a unanimous resolution opposing the project.
Also at Tuesday night's meeting, Sanitation Department officials unveiled some design changes to the proposed garage, after the site flooded with 10 feet of water during Hurricane Sandy. All mechanical equipment will be stored 2 feet above the 100-year flood line under the new design, and the truck ramps will be shifted so that they drain downward in case of flooding, officials said.
At one point during the public comment portion of the hearing, a representative from the city attempted to clarify some information about the project, but he could not finish because of an uproar from the crowd.
“It’s our turn,” attendees yelled. “You spoke, now it’s our turn.”
Public comments on the Department of Sanitation's proposal will be accepted in writing until July 24. The department will then submit a draft environmental impact statement, which will have to go through another round of public approvals.