Neighbors still feel ‘steamrolled’ by plans for sanitation garage

Attendees at Monday’s meeting, including Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal (above right) expressed their concerns about the sanitation garage that’s expected to be be built at the CUNY Brookdale site. Photo by Daryl Baurer

Attendees at Monday’s meeting expressed their concerns about the sanitation garage that’s expected to be be built at the CUNY Brookdale site. (Photo by Daryl Baurer)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Almost 200 residents living in the area around the Brookdale Campus where a sanitation garage has been proposed expressed their frustration on Monday night when the Department of Sanitation and the Economic Development Corporation continued to move forward with the plans, hosting a public scoping hearing on the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

While some of the aggravation stemmed from the lack of notice for the recent hearing, as well as the location on East 17th Street and Second Avenue, an inconvenient venue for the many Waterside Plaza residents who wanted to attend, many residents were primarily concerned that plans for the garage were going ahead with little consideration for the community’s objections.

Terence O’Neal, who is chair of the Community Board 6 Land Use and Waterfront committee but who submitted his testimony at the hearing as an individual and not a representative of CB6, said he was frustrated that the draft EIS failed to mention any of the work the community board has done in looking at alternate sites and alternative solutions.

“While the working group from EDC is prominently mentioned, the city planner that the community board hired is glaringly left out,” he said. “When a community takes its time and energy and its own funding, it’s telling that the city agency doesn’t even mention the study. One would hope this oversight doesn’t reflect their opinion of the study and we hope our comments given tonight are taken seriously.”

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Letters to the Editor, May 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

If we knew then what we know now…

To the editor:

There is an absolute absurdity that keeps circulating in the halls of banality. Its primary function is to deflect responsibility for the actions of our nation, our people and our leaders and the press. It resurfaced a few weeks back with Jeb Bush and Mrs. Clinton, and again, recently, in NPR’s Brian Lehrer and All Things Considered, on Sunday, May 24 — but make no mistake, it is not limited to Mrs. Clinton, the Bushes and NPR’s people. So here it is: “If we knew then, what we know now…” (Finish with: “would we have invaded Iraq?”)

It is an American tragedy that the question was formed. It shows an induced loss of memory among those of us who are over 60, and ignorance on the part of everyone else.

So let’s go back to the Eisenhower years, specifically, May 1, 1960. That was the day one of our U2s was shot down twelve miles above the Soviet Union — we were stunned that the Russians had that ability. Recall its pilot, Gary Powers… put on display by Khrushchev to the utter embarrassment of President Eisenhower who could no longer deny our flying over Russia. I leave it to the reader to figure out what one of our high altitude U2 planes (hint) with cameras was doing over Russia. (End episode I.)

Let’s go forward to October, 1962. President Kennedy is on television. He is explaining the identity of objects and the significance of shadows in an 8 x10 photo of the ground in Cuba. The photo was taken by our aircraft flying over Cuba. Kennedy was about to take serious action and he wanted the American people to know why he was going to take the actions he was about to take: blockade Cuba and demand the removal of Russian missiles. (End episode II.)

Suffice now to recall that during the 50 years of the cold-war, we and the Soviets developed sophisticated technology with which to photograph each other’s country. On CBS news, Walter Cronkite described our technological capacity to photograph from space a pack of cigarettes in a man’s shirt.
The great advance in our ability to photograph the ground from space came with satellites whose speed would keep them over the same spot on Earth. We and the Russians knew every square inch of everything that was the other’s.

Let’s move ahead to 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. George Bush is President of The United States.

Over the years, our media has served the wrong sets of questions. Rather than demanding: “Given our technology, how could we not have known about WMD in Iraq?” it insisted that while we know now, maybe, just maybe, back then maybe we did not know. But what we know now, we don’t know only now. We are not in a privileged position now compared to back then.

Sending our troops running around in the desert on wild goose chases established nothing new. What we know now is precisely what we knew back then.

John M. Giannone, ST

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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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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.

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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Plan for Skyport’s renovation revealed

EDC expects more seaplane activity, area residents frustrated that garage will stay and lack of community involvement

 

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last Wednesday, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) presented its plan for a $10 million renovation of the Skyport Garage and Marina to area residents at Community Board 6’s most recent Land Use and Waterfront meeting. The proposal, drawn up by Nandinee Phookan Architects, includes the possibility of increased seaplane activity, with an opportunity for larger, two-engine planes headed to Boston or Washington, D.C. to take off from the East River, as well as general infrastructure improvements to fix damage from Hurricane Sandy.

EDC Senior Vice President and Director of Operations Rich Cote said at the meeting that most of the budget is going towards infrastructure improvements.

“Sandy gave us a black eye like it did most of this part of Manhattan,” Cote said. “There was a million dollars worth of damage. We’re giving the place a full facelift, just trying to give the infrastructure some help.”

Cote explained that the garage had been leased to a private entity for fifty years until early 2012, when it reverted back to city ownership and is now under the purview of the EDC because the building was in such bad shape and improvements needed to be made.

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