By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Members of Community Board 6’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee recently learned of a new proposal concerning the garage that the Department of Sanitation wants to build on East 25th Street between First Avenue and the FDR; a plan that presents the possibility of building the facility near the Con Edison plant at East 15th Street and Avenue C.
This proposal came from BFJ Planning, a consulting firm that CB6 has hired to come up with other options for the Brookdale Campus, which will be vacated when Hunter College moves the current program uptown, as well as to come up with an alternative spot for the sanitation garage.
BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin presented the preliminary proposal, which had been shown to the board’s steering committee for the sanitation garage last month, at the Land Use and Waterfront Committee’s monthly meeting last Wednesday. Martin focused on the rationale behind the alternative location for the facility.
He acknowledged that DSNY’s plan is partially understandable.
“They want to put their trucks near the service area,” he said. “At the moment the trucks are six miles away but the Brookdale site is two miles away.”
He then explained that one possibility they are exploring in their alternatives is space near the Con Ed plant next to Stuyvesant Town, which would still be near the community district’s service area.
Unlike the Brookdale Campus, however, which will revert back to the city once Hunter College vacates the site, the Con Edison site is not city property. This means that to even consider building a garage on the site, the city would have to acquire the property from Con Edison first.
Aside from this obstacle, Martin explained that the plan would involve relocating John J. Murphy Park up to space which is now surface parking for Con Edison. At that point, the space then becomes open to other uses and in an overlay, Martin showed that DSNY’s plans for the garage fit neatly on top of the space. The potential Con Edison space is actually longer than the Brookdale site, which would offer various opportunities.
“The structure wouldn’t have to go up five stories like the building they’ve proposed,” Martin explained.
Committee members and residents of the surrounding community are opposed to the garage at the Brookdale site primarily because of the potential garage’s proximity to a number of hospitals and healthcare facilities but traffic and noise are also a concern, and Stuyvesant Town resident and committee member Larry Scheyer noted that the latter would be a problem at the Con Edison site as well.
“Many parts of the day have that area gridlocked,” he said. “Add hundreds of sanitation trucks with no other way to get in and out, it would be a nightmare.”
When asked if DSNY had considered the Con Edison site for the garage, DSNY spokesperson Keith Mellis only said that the Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed garage would include a discussion of alternatives that Sanitation has investigated.