City hopes to use ST composting program as model for other multi-family buildings

Stuyvesant Town Director of Environmental Services Rei Moya, Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk, Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, David Hurd of GrowNYC and Stuy Town resident Deborah Brozina (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town management and the Department of Sanitation are trying to raise awareness about the property’s efforts to compost food waste, and hopes to use the property as an example of how larger multifamily buildings can do this successfully.

DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia visited Stuy Town last Wednesday with representatives from greenmarket organizer GrowNYC and NYC Organics, the branch of DSNY that runs the compost collection program, to check on its progress.

The program officially started in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper on December 2 and director of environmental services for STPCV Rei Moya said that it took about a month to hit its stride. Moya recommended that residents who want to start composting can collect their food waste in the freezer and empty it directly into the brown bins in building recycling areas. The program will accept food scraps, food-soiled paper and plant clippings. He added that he has started composting in his own apartment and invested in a countertop container, lined with biobags that can be purchased at places like Walgreens or local supermarkets.

“Because the moisture just seeps out and dries up, there’s no smell,” Moya said.

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ST composting effort keeps 10,000 lbs. of garbage out of landfill each week

Rei Moya, the director of environmental services at Stuyvesant Town with Rick Hayduk, general manager (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Rei Moya, the director of environmental services at Stuyvesant Town with Rick Hayduk, general manager (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, Rick Hayduk, the general manager of Stuyvesant Town, announced that the new owner was looking for ways to reduce the 80-acre property’s carbon footprint. This was mentioned after a decision was made not to bring back the heated sports tent that had been in the complex for two seasons. At the time, Hayduk said it wouldn’t be returning due to all the energy it took to keep the nearly three-story tent a comfortable temperature during the winter months, as well as noise complaints from neighbors.

Since then, Blackstone and StuyTown Property Services have made good on their commitment to undertake some environmentally-friendly initiatives. One in October was the installation of a weather monitor to be used by the property’s landscapers to prevent the grounds from getting over-watered. In June, the owner planted 30 new trees around the complex to replace those that had died over time due to disease or pollution.

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City digs out after blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loops after the blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loop after the blizzard (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After last year’s fake-out for a “historic” snowstorm that dropped a mere nine inches on the city instead of the predicted three feet, the de Blasio administration was more cautious with the hyperbole preceding last week’s storm.

This time, though, the blizzard delivered: last week’s storm brought the second biggest snowfall since the city started recording the data in 1869, only a tenth of an inch less than the biggest in 2006, with 26.8 inches measured in Central Park by the time the storm dissipated on Saturday night.

The mayor issued a travel ban on all non-emergency vehicles at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday when the forecasts were predicting 20 to 25 inches of snow. While the governor shut down the subway completely in anticipation of last year’s storm, subway service remained at least partially available for the duration of the blizzard, although the MTA did ultimately shut down bus service at noon and service at aboveground subway stations at 4 p.m.

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Neighbors against sanitation garage call for city study of alternative sites

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition is continuing its fight against the proposed sanitation garage by exploring alternatives in existing facilities in other parts of Manhattan, options that have not yet been discussed at the public hearings or Community Board 6 meetings on the topic.

“This additional option came to our attention and we liked the idea so it was included in our public comments on the draft scope,” said Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, who is also one of the coalition’s co-founders. The comment period for the draft scoping document for the project ended on July 22.

On behalf of the coalition, which represents tenant groups who oppose the sanitation garage planned for East 25th Street and First Avenue, Handal has also asked local elected officials, including Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick, as well as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, to request that the Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded city agency that provides nonpartisan information about the city’s budget, do an appraisal of the Brookdale site as well as an evaluation of the existing Pier 36 garage and an old incinerator building located on 215th Street.

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Bellevue Hospital to build flood wall

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal has expressed concern about the project's construction. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal has expressed concern about the project’s construction. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Bellevue Hospital is in the beginning stages of a plan that aims to protect the facility from future Hurricane Sandys and released an environmental assessment on the project at the beginning of July. The document is the first the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), Bellevue’s parent organization, has released concerning the project and outlines the most viable alternative, a comprehensive mitigation system, which consists of a “perimeter boundary protection system” or flood wall around the hospital center. It will include a series of connected permanent and removable walls and integrated flood gates, as well as new elevators, a secondary domestic water pumping system, relocation of the HVAC equipment to above the 500-year flood plain and other features.

Other alternatives that were discussed in the document but that were ultimately dismissed include relocation of the hospital center or just a flood wall with no other changes. Relocation is not being considered because HHC does not think it practical to abandon the infrastructure investments that have been made on the existing site. The second alternative has been dismissed because while it is expected to provide similar flood protection to the wall in the selected plan, HHC wanted to incorporate a “Multiple Lines of Defense” strategy.

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Neighbors stand firm on hatred of sanitation garage

Garodnick, Mendez echo residents’ concerns at meeting

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of buildings located near the planned sanitation garage on East 25th Street took turns ripping into city officials last Wednesday at a raucous meeting that was aimed at getting public feedback.

Over 150 people attended the scoping session, which was at the garage site, the current CUNY Brookdale campus. Many of them were leaders of local tenants associations and co-op boards who’ve joined the recently formed Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition, which opposes the garage. The garage plan has been deeply unpopular since it was announced in 2013, and, just like at previous meetings, tenants voiced their concerns about potential impacts on air quality from truck fumes, odors, vermin and added traffic congestion that could delay ambulances at local hospitals. Many also argued that a garage for 180 sanitation trucks just seemed out of place on First Avenue’s science/medical corridor.

This time, however, a few elected officials also showed up to the meeting, and two City Council members, Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, called on the city to be more responsive to residents’ concerns.

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DSNY insists alternative sanit. garage sites won’t work

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.

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Format of sanitation garage ‘open house’ a surprise to attendees

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. A firm hired by Community Board 6 has recommended Con Ed property. J.G. Collins however suggests a portion of St. Vartan’s Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

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

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents were surprised by the format of the most recent meeting on the proposed sanitation garage, held at the Brookdale Campus on East 25th Street last Thursday evening.

The meeting, billed as an open house, went “exactly as anticipated,” Economic Development Corporation senior associate of public affairs Ian Fried told Town & Village, but the set-up was different from that of previous meetings on the subject and many residents at the most recent event felt that it wasn’t as constructive as meetings in the past.

“What we were expecting was something more like what happened the last time it was in the auditorium,” ST-PCV Tenants Association chair Susan Steinberg said. “(The last meeting) was a back and forth discussion. We thought we’d be shown a slideshow and more details about the project.

Instead, there were representatives from DSNY or EDC at these stations answering questions so you got one-on-one time, but there wasn’t a real format where those who were attending could express their thoughts and react to the content. Almost everybody I spoke with, it was not what we were expecting.”

The meeting was held inside the Brookdale Campus, the location for which the sanitation garage is proposed. The second most recent meeting on the topic was a more boisterous affair, during which some meeting attendees took turns yelling harsh criticisms about the plan to the representatives of the two agencies who had given the presentations.

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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.

CB6 offers proposal: Sanitation garage could go near Con Ed

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin discusses an alternative site for the planned Brookdale campus  sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin discusses an alternative site for the planned Brookdale campus sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

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.

DSNY trying to move forward with sanitation garage project

 

Hunter College’s Brookdale Campus, site of the proposed sanitation garage (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Hunter College’s Brookdale Campus, site of the proposed sanitation garage (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In their recent monthly meeting on September 10, Community Board 6’s Land Use and Waterfront committee members were blindsided by news that the city is trying to move forward with the plan for a sanitation garage that has been proposed for East 25th Street and First Avenue, in the middle of what is known as Bedpan Alley.

Community members and local elected officials have been fighting against the plan since it was announced by the Department of Sanitation the end of 2012 and although former Mayor Bloomberg seemed intent on pushing the proposal through before he left office, it has mostly been on hold since the change of administration.

However, that hiatus is seemingly over, as committee chair Terry O’Neal announced that the department has aggressively been trying to put the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) proceeding through to assess the area’s land use and even tried to get it done during the community board’s summer recess.

He noted that DSNY had informed local elected officials during the summer that they would be submitting two ULURPs and are attempting to submit them by the end of this month. The area on which DSNY is attempting to build the garage is not currently zoned for industrial use and if the ULURP goes through, the city will have one less obstacle for the proposal.

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