It’s been nearly a year since the plan was first announced, and then as well as now as well as every point in between, the people have spoken. Scrap the sanitation garage, or just put it somewhere that doesn’t seem so completely out of place.
Naturally, those who live near the planned garage, residents of Waterside Plaza and East Midtown Plaza in particular, also have other concerns, such as noise from construction, additional traffic from the garbage trucks, and possible odors and fumes from the fuel tanks to be stored onsite, as well as security concerns relating to those tanks.
But these are complaints the Department of Sanitation would hear from any community in which it decides to put a facility to store its garbage trucks and other equipment, and the city of course has to put them somewhere. Additionally, the facility would be serving the community (in this case the areas covered by Community Boards 6 and 8) it would call home.
Fair argument, but what’s also a legitimate argument is that this community, known to many who’ve lived in it a while as Bedpan Alley due to all the hospitals and other medical facilities, really is different from other neighborhoods. Along with longstanding institutions such as Bellevue, the V.A. Medical Center and various NYU school buildings, the area has also become known as a growing medical/science/tech center, as evidenced by the recently built Alexandria Center for Life Science. It therefore seems inappropriate — even if it is convenient for the city because the space happens to be available — to turn what is now CUNY’s Brookdale campus into an operation that would make the area less attractive to science/tech companies and other neighbors who might be more well suited to the corridor of First Avenue in the East 20s as well as further north up to NYU Langone Medical Center.
Like many local elected officials, also in opposition to the placement of the garage is former Assembly Member Steve Sanders. A longtime advocate of the area developing as a science/research hub, he had arranged for a grant to get the Alexandria Center developed while he was still in office. This week, he told T&V he thought the city’s plan to put the sanitation center nearby was a “a wasted opportunity.”
The facilities located along the corridor, he’s noted, “have already gotten a lot of income for the city by renting to tenants, bringing companies to the East Side and by the jobs.” A better function for the Brookdale campus in his view, would be to offer housing for the nearby hospitals’ staffers who are sometimes on call 24/7.
As a publication that writes about concerns of tenants, residential and sometimes commercial, at Town & Village, we certainly understand that for the city, finding a space to house a sanitation garage is a difficult task. But still, even in Manhattan, it isn’t impossible. Rather than trying to rush this project to completion, we believe the Department of Sanitation should make a genuine effort to find an alternative location. We appreciate the department’s decision to extend the public comment period through August 14 and hope that neighbors’ concerns, as well as the facts about the area’s identity, are taken into consideration.