Changes to sanit. garage plan aired

Area residents still against proposal, DSNY shoots down CB6’s suggested alternative sites

The Brookdale campus, the city’s proposed site for the sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Brookdale campus, the city’s proposed site for the sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents and members of Community Board 6 were packed in at an unusually well-attended Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting last Wednesday to hear a presentation from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) on some of the new plans for the Brookdale Campus at East 25th Street and First Avenue.

The EDC first became involved in the project last year due to the protesting from the community and elected officials, demanding a more comprehensive plan for the site. EDC is now working with DSNY on the project, but DSNY is still the lead agency for the garage proposal, which encompasses the middle section of the site. EDC is the lead agency on the development of the bookend parcels of the site and will be working with the community to come up with options for the development of that property. The EDC has also formed a working group to address possibilities for the bookend property of the site, consisting of community board members, elected officials, residents and other community advocates, which will first meet on February 23 and it will be holding up to eight additional meetings through the end of April.

The most recent meeting on the garage, which itself was held inside one of the buildings at the Brookdale Campus, was mainly an opportunity for the DSNY to come before the committee and the public and discuss changes to its proposal for the garage. It is the first time since a previous meeting in June, 2013, also held in the auditorium at Brookdale, that DSNY has publicly spoken about the proposal and it is the first time the EDC has come to one of the committee meetings specifically to address the proposed sanitation garage.

This particular meeting had also been postponed a number of times due to scheduling and weather, but when the two agencies got through their respective presentations, the consensus among the residents was no different than at meetings in the past: we don’t want this garage in our community.

Kate Van Tassel, Vice President of the EDC, wasn’t able to get through much of her presentation before being interrupted by an angry resident who said that he was sick of hearing the same thing from the city about the garage proposal and was upset that the construction of the garage would mean giving up a viable housing facility. Van Tassel explained that this presentation was actually new, and did offer different options for community space on the bookend parcels such as affordable housing, which has not been discussed at previous meetings on the garage, but all of the plans were working under the assumption that the sanitation garage would still be located in the middle portion of the property.

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CB6 to vote on sanitation garage alternatives

Site for the proposed sanitation garage (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Site for the proposed sanitation garage (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 will soon be reviewing alternative proposals for the planned sanitation garage at the Brookdale campus from the board’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee. The proposals, which had been put together by a firm hired by CB6, BFJ Planning were presented to the committee last Wednesday and the full board will be voting on them soon.

The presentation at the most recent Land Use and Waterfront Committee meeting didn’t offer any major changes in the proposals that committee members had already heard from BFJ, but the plan was more complete than in previous meetings.

“(The proposals) are more detailed and accurate now because they’re based on feedback from the committee and site visits that we’ve done,” CB6 chair Sandro Sherrod said. “Both plans have positive benefits and both have their downsides but there’s a lot of interest about this in the community and there’s still more work that needs to be done to flesh out either plan.”

The first alternative that BFJ Planning presented includes the construction of a garage on the proposed Brookdale site at East 25th Street and First Avenue, but in a different configuration from that of DSNY’s proposal. BFJ’s plan would include a partially-underground garage at the Brookdale site that would allow for other uses above ground such as affordable housing, senior housing or health-related facilities. The proposal allows for a building with less height and longer ramps so that the garage can accommodate the same number of vehicles without being as imposing.

The second alternative would place the garage at the Con Edison facility at Avenue C near East 14th Street.

Although this plan would involve construction at Murphy’s Brother’s Park, the plan would actually move the open space rather than get rid of it; one of the purported benefits of this alternative proposal is that it would ultimately add 1.7 acres to the park once the project was completed.

Sherrod said that the full board was scheduled to meet this past Wednesday and it was possible the garage might not be discussed then, although the meeting is after T&V’s press time for this week. If the vote on the garage proposals did not occur on Wednesday, Sherrod said they would be discussed at next month’s full board meeting.