What's wrong with our very rich Mayor Bloomberg and our very ambitious would-be mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn? They firmly support putting a huge marine transfer facility for garbage truck to barge transfer at 91st. St. and the East River next to one of the most densely populated residential areas of New York City. The road from the street to this proposed 10-story-high, 77,815-square-foot marine transfer station for garbage bisects athletic playing fields and an Olympic swimming pool recreational complex that serves thousands of public school children and neighborhood teams every year. The proposed Dept. of Sanitation facility would be built about 200 feet from two large public housing complexes. And garbage trucks would be lined up along York Avenue leading to garbage facility on the East River 24 hours a day, six days a week, emitting fumes in an area that already has some of the most polluted air in NYC.
Because the proposed dump would be on the Upper East Side of Manhattan at the Asphalt Green, garbage transfer facility proponents say that it's just that rich people don't want it in their neighborhood. That's pure baloney. No one, rich, middle class, or poor, wants to see a garbage-dumping site in any residential neighborhood. Such a facility belongs in an industrial area like the abandoned rail yards on the far West Side. But it is rumored that the mayor and city officials want to see that turned into a commercial development much like Battery Park City.
I have lived in the Asphalt Green neighborhood for nearly 40 years. I volunteered in the mid-70s with the neighborhood group that rallied to turn what was an abandoned municipal asphalt plant designed by one of Le Corbusier's disciples into a world-class athletic complex on 5 1/2 acres with Manhattan's only 50-meter Olympic indoor pool. City leaders claim the Green, a non-profit, serves rich people who can afford to join. That distorts the fact that membership fees, comparable to other area health clubs, help underwrite the free use of the Green by non-profit organizations, public school groups and City agencies. According to an e-mail from Christina Klapper, Asphalt Green Director of Marketing, "Free programs on campus, including Community Sports Leagues, Waterproofing Public Schools, Waterproofing non-profit agencies, Special Populations, Community Partnerships, Free Special Programs and Events, Free Facility Use, and Scholarships have brought over 61,000 visitors to our campus."
There was a smaller marine garbage transfer station at that site until 1999, and I well remember the garbage trucks lining York Avenue spewing noxious fumes while they idled queuing up for dumping their loads onto a barge. The odor was disgusting. How much worse odors and vermin would we be facing if the city goes forward with its plans for unloading 5,280 tons of trash per day at the site? On Wednesday, June 29, the City Council is voting to appropriate funding for construction to start next year.
On June 28 at 6 p.m. we have a rally at the public housing complex, the Isaacs/Holmes Plaza at First Ave. and 93rd St. to stop the E. 91st Street garbage dump. Council Member Dan Garodnick will be the featured speaker. But so far Council President Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg are not showing up to learn what our neighborhood is really like. Perhaps if Mayor Bloomberg actually lived at Gracie Mansion like most mayors, he would understand, since his view would be of the proposed garbage facility But he is a very rich man who can chose where he lives, and that's just off ritzy Fifth Ave., not near working class York Ave. with its public housing projects, playing fields for children and mom-and-pop businesses. We need the city to wake up and realize that garbage transfer facilities don't belong in any residential area in any part of the city. We don't want it in our backyard or in anyone's backyard, no matter the borough or the population.