Watersiders campaign against sanitation garage

Residents worried about onsite fuel tanks

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal Photo by Brightsmith

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal
Photo by Brightsmith

By Sabina Mollot

Along with extra traffic from garbage trucks and noise from construction, residents living near 25th Street and First Avenue, the site of a planned Department of Sanitation garage, are now saying they are also concerned about safety due to the presence of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel, which are expected to be stored at the property.

Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, which has been opposed to the garage plan, said this week that she was concerned about the potential for explosions due to an accident or arson. Meanwhile, she said tenants at Waterside have compiled around 300 letters in opposition to the garage, based on a form letter prepared by the WTA with their own comments added. The public comment period on the project ended on Wednesday. At some point after comments are reviewed, the Department of City Planning will issue a final environmental impact statement.

Though the letters mention more than one reason for their stand on the city project, which was first announced last year, the fuel tanks, said Handal, “are a very serious concern. It poses a security risk.”

She noted how she recently strolled down to a similar facility located at 57th Street around 10:30 in the evening, also where fuel tanks are stored, “and there was no security guard and the doors were wide open. A fire could break out or an explosion from fumes, from something purposeful or someone doing something careless.”

Handal said the issue was raised at the last public scoping meeting, which took place on June 25, but she hadn’t gotten a response.

As for whether or not any fumes or odors could be a nuisance to Watersiders, Handal said it would depend on what the winds are like that day. The garage, which is now located on CUNY’s Brookdale campus, is also in front of the main entrance/exit at Waterside, the 25th Street footbridge over the FDR Drive. Traffic there, where the SBS bus stops, is also a concern to residents, said Handal, since trucks are expected to start leaving the facility each day before 6 a.m.

The Department of Sanitation has said early on the 135-foot-high facility would accommodate space for 170 DOS trucks and 145 other vehicles, including those owned by department employees over a total of 108,600 square feet.

The WTA, like the garage’s other detractors, has also attempted to argue that the garage is also just out of place for a neighborhood that’s better known to residents as Bedpan Alley due to all the hospitals and other medical facilities, including the City Office of the Medical Examiner.

Another neighbor of the Brookdale campus, the East Midtown Plaza co-op complex, has also made this argument in recently submitted written testimony.

Jerry Fox, president of the co-op board, said residents at EMP have also had concerns about future weather-related floods and outages in the area, including at the garage site. “Where are you going to put those fuel tanks?” asked Fox. “You can’t put them on street level. If it floods, you’re going to have major problems.”

In response to the residents’ concerns, DOS Public Information Chief Keith Mellis said safety was a top priority with regards to the fuel storage and there was also a plan for noise mitigation.

“All fueling operations will meet stringent local, state, and federal regulations and will be regularly inspected to ensure not only the safety of our workers but of the overall community,” said Mellis, “just as we have done over the years at all DSNY facilities citywide.”

He added that the building would be staffed “24/7, providing security at all times, and the garage will be designed to meet flood risk standards. In our continuing effort to work with the community to minimize any inconveniences, a noise mitigation plan also will be implemented during construction.”

Op-Ed: New York doesn’t need Spitzer or Weiner

Editor’s note: This column was written before the latest allegations of sexting by Weiner were made public on Tuesday and admitted to by the mayoral hopeful. It’s worth noting that the editorial staff of this newspaper agrees with the sentiments here, and also believes that there is no room in New York politics for individuals who don’t learn from their mistakes.

By Steve Sanders

In his opus, when Frank Sinatra sang… “It’s up to you, New York, New York,” he must have been thinking about an election like the one that looms in New York City in less than two months.

So here is the deal. In September the Democratic party voters will go to the polls and nominate its standard bearers for the general election. Resigned Congressman Anthony Weiner is a candidate in a crowded field for mayor and resigned Governor Eliot Spitzer faces Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the race for comptroller.

Both entered their respective races late and both catapulted to the top of the polls, primarily based on their name recognition and celebrity.

Celebrity? The former Congressman gained his notoriety by texting pictures of his private parts to women and girls with suggestive and salacious remarks. When caught he lied about it to the public as long as he could get away with it and then after getting cornered, confessed and resigned from office. The former governor earned his fame by first bullying his colleagues and others with threats and taunts. Then it was revealed that he spent much of his time soliciting prostitutes and even making arrangement for payment through questionable accounts and interstate travel. This from the one time top state law enforcement official and chief executive of the state of New York!

It isn’t just the lack of restraint or reckless acts of personal indulgence that should bother New Yorkers; it is the fact that their judgment is so flawed and their temperament reflects a dangerous narcissistic compulsion which seems to have led both men to a view of the world that places them at the center of the universe where their particular needs come first. Not very good for persons aspiring to public service.

Now don’t get me wrong; political persons by nature are aggressive and egocentric. To some extent, you need those characteristics to be successful in the world of politics. But there is a world of difference between the behavior of Mr. Weiner and Mr. Spitzer and most any other politician that I have seen.  To elect either of them to high office in New York City would be setting up the city to be the national and international punch line when we should be solidifying our place as the world class city that we are. A city filled with the best and the brightest.

A vote for either man is a vote to feed their personal addiction for attention and power. They need New York City voters, New York City voters don’t need them.

I for one, a lifelong democrat, will not support the party standard bearers if either are Weiner or Spitzer. I will not demean our great City in that way.

But as Frank Sinatra sang… It’s up to you New York, New York!

Steven Sanders is a former state assemblyman who represented the Town and Village community for 28 years.

Letters to the Editor, July 25

Feeling separated from the parks

I am a five-year resident of Stuyvesant Town and mother of two young children.

The deciding factor in moving here was the affordability that included many outdoor spaces containing grass and trees surrounding the buildings.

Sadly, this wonderful aspect of our community has been robbed from all of us with the permanent installation of vast, confining and unsightly fencing throughout the community. Now instead of experiencing the outdoors with freedom and wonder, my children are forced to stay on sidewalks bordering what is now off limits. I have to soften the pain of no more picnics near our playground. No more walking barefoot in the grass while playing around their favorite trees.

The reasons for this drastic change (according to management) is to correct mismanagement of the grounds by previous property owners. After taking a closer look at these “improvements” I am convinced this amounts to an ill-planned, ridiculous venture that included trashing hundreds of thriving plants and costing a lot of money.

Why in the world would prospective tenants move in with this fencing destroying the landscape and prohibiting enjoyment of the outdoors?

This change in the property has been done in a cold, calculating, insidious way that proves management does not like the tenants it manages.

M. Deren, ST

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