YORKVILLE — East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station opponents have a new weapon in their public relations arsenal — a cartoon.
Pledge 2 Protect, a coalition of anti-MTS activists, has just unveiled a 2 minute, 31 second animated film, "Imagine Smarter — Stop the E. 91st St. MTS," highlighting the project's risks to youth, the organization said.
MTS opponents have long lambasted the project — which recently became a top barb-trading topic in the 2013 mayoral race — for threatening the health and well being of neighborhood residents, especially children's respiratory health.
They also worry about quality of life concerns, such as vermin, traffic and odors prompted by the constant coming and going of municipal garbage trucks.
"Imagine Smarter" marks the latest Pledge 2 Protect's plan of action against the plant‚ which also includes aggressive lobbying to keep pro-project politicians out of office.
The new movie begins with an unnamed child narrator describing an idyllic life in the neighborhood — where he lives happily with mom, dad, a dog and a backyard.
Lawns and trees are depicted in lush greens, and the cloud-speckled sky pops with clear, clean cobalt coloring.
Even the dense, high rise residences radiate warmth with a bold red and orange palate.
"Pretty nice, right?" the narrator asks, right before the scene switches focus to an angular, grey factory.
There, three oscillating smokestacks spew brown gas into the sky, darkening the once white clouds.
"This is a marine transfer station. It is a city dump where garbage trucks put thousands of of trash everyday. Dumps don't belong where people live and where kids play," he explains.
The child then cites statistics often referred to by Pledge 2 Protect — such that the East 91st Street project stands in close proximity to 16 schools, 11 daycares, two senior centers and two public housing projects.
"The dump will threaten the safety of families and the health of thousands of kids with diesel fumes which are car-cin-o-genic," the narrator said, sounding out "carcinogenic."
"This means the fumes can cause lung disease, asthma, or even cancer."
"This is the plan of our leaders?" the narrator asks as the film nears its conclusion.
"Our leaders could imagine smarter."
Pledge 2 Protect president Kelly Nimmo-Guenther said the video came about when a member of the group came up with the concept and volunteered to oversee production.
"We only helped provide facts. We thought it was a great way to tell the story of why this project is wrong and dangerous," she said.
Nimmo-Guenter said the cartoon format "is a very simply and universal approach to a serious problem that affects tens of thousands of children and adults more in the direct vicinity."
Because children will be most impacted by the project, a child narrator "made the most sense," she said.
The city has historically rebuffed this and other criticism, maintaining that the project promotes environmental justice.