By Maria Rocha-Buschel
At a meeting last Wednesday, reps from the Sanitation Department and the Economic Development Corporation addressed residents to who live near the proposed sanitation garage, to explain their rejections, at a previous meeting, of ideas from Community Board 6 for alternative sites.
The meeting was held by the Community Board 6 Land Use and Waterfront Committee.
In attendance was DSNY architect Mike Friedlander, who reiterated a position made before by the city that both alternatives to the Brookdale campus that had been suggested by CB6 were not feasible for both financial and physical reasons. The first alternative offered by CB6 suggests using land that is currently owned and occupied by Con Edison.
Friedlander said that DSNY has been able to discuss the plan with the utility, and found that Con Edison has no intention to sell the property at this time. He added, as he noted in a previous meeting, that even if Con Edison were willing to vacate the land, it would not automatically go to DSNY.
“There’s no funding for the acquisition of property,” Friedlander said.
As for making the garage underground at the Brookdale site, the second alternative suggestion from CB6, Friedlander said that it would be a prohibitively expensive plan.
“We would basically have to build a bathtub, built down 50 feet or so, and with a high water table in the area, that would cost a lot of money,” he said.
Money has always been a key part of the plan as it’s been proposed by Sanitation, as another representative, Andres De Leon, said at the most recent meeting. De Leon noted that the reason the plan stalled to begin with was because of financial difficulties when the economy crashed in 2008, which prevented the garage from being rebuilt in the original location.
“There were across the board cuts when the economy collapsed,” Kate Van Tassel of the EDC added. “The original site (on East 74th Street) is being sold (to Memorial Sloan-Kettering) so that’s how the garage is being funded.”
Residents who live in the neighborhood of the former garage and proposed Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer center in Yorkville have recently been more involved in CB6’s opposition to the garage at the Brookdale site, lending their support and offering their own alternative.
“At Community Board 8, we share your garbage issues,” Yorkville resident Jill Eisner said at the meeting. “The property is not yet owned by Memorial Sloan-Kettering, which is why we’re still fighting it. We want our garbage garage where it belongs.”
DSNY and EDC did not respond to the comment but Land Use and Waterfront Committee chair Terry O’Neal said that while CB8 has been split on the cancer center, its members did ultimately vote in favor of it.
The representatives from the city agencies were also at the meeting to clarify some of the changes that the plan has gone through, partially to address concerns that residents have about the layout, especially concerning traffic.
“In the old building design, we had cars coming out of East 25th Street but we eliminated that and sealed off side of the building, and we’ll have more people-related things happening along that street,” Friedlander said, adding that something commercial like a Starbucks is a possibility.
“We also pulled the traffic lanes into the building and that means there’s no conflict with medical examiners and no conflict with ambulances coming into or leaving Bellevue,” he noted.
In response to concerns about the possibility of increased traffic in the neighborhood, DSNY director of real estate Arlana Davis said that the environmental review will have a detailed analysis of the traffic in the area, but she added that since there are already trucks and brooms serving the area, there wouldn’t be an increase. Friedlander pointed out that queuing wouldn’t be a problem when trucks are coming back after their shifts because queuing will be happening inside the building rather than on the street.