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Unique problems for Greenpoint and Williamsburg

Fresh Kills closing,
a proposed Moratorium,
and a Marine Transfer Station

As has been published, the closing of Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island is creating great anxiety in many Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens communities. Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer has made it clear that he will oppose any more garbage coming to his borough, citing the already unfair burden imposed on the Bronx such as in Hunts Point. Borough President Claire Shulman has also been working to protect her borough of Queens. Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden held a press conference in November, along with other Brooklyn based waterfront community organizations, on the steps of City Hall calling for the City to comply with Local Law 40 of 1990 which specifies the need for regulations regarding the siting of land-based transfer stations. Borough President Golden and the demonstrators also called for a moratorium on the permitting of any new transfer stations until siting regulations are adopted. This, on the surface, sounds like a good idea. But what hasn't been reported in the papers are the specific reasons why a moratorium could be devastating for the communities of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. How could a moratorium protect other communities and be detrimental to Greenpoint and Williamsburg?

The answer is simple. Greenpoint has a Marine Transfer station that presently handles 1200 tons of garbage each day. Presently, that is recyclable garbage. This marine transfer station is permitted to handle 4000 tons of garbage each day. It can accept both commercial and residential waste. It could more that triple its current tonnage under its existing permit. The moratorium and Local Law 40 do not apply to our Marine transfer station, but only address land based transfer stations. In fact, while Borough President Golden cries for Local Law 40 to be implemented, Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro, in correspondence to Howard Golden, stated that "an important variable in the development of siting regulations will be the responses to the request for proposals (RFP) for the reuse of the City's marine transfer stations. Given the uniqueness of these facilities, it is prudent to include them in the final transfer station siting rules."

The City Administration is required by law to reduce the amount of garbage going to Staten Island's Fresh Kills incrementally each year, regardless of any moratorium. So, in fact, imposing a moratorium on any new waste transfer stations would pose 3 problems:

1. It would force the city to expand the use of the existing marine transfer station network, placing an overwhelming burden on Greenpoint. Thousands of more trucks each day would barrel through our communities ravaging our quality of life. It is curious that there has been an effort to stall our Manhattan Ave. reconstruction in order to reconstruct McGuinness Boulevard first. This plan appears to be preparing the roadways that will help push the trash stream into our community. Why is Kingsland Ave. at Greenpoint Ave. being expanded to 5-6 lanes which directly lead to our marine transfer station? Is it also in preparation of thousands of more trucks?

2. It does not prevent existing transfer stations which are handling less garbage than is allowable under their present permits or consent orders from accepting more garbage. Greenpoint and Williamsburg have far too many facilities that fall into this category. It is astounding that with the overabundance of poorly operated waste facilities located in our area, that Borough President Golden in his entire waste management report included correspondence to DOS, DEC and the Mayor's office regarding his concerns with just one facility­ USA Waste on North 5th and Kent Ave.

3. And lastly, a moratorium would prohibit the issuance of new permits to larger waste management companies, in effect, preventing consolidation of smaller, poorly run and poorly located facilities interspersed among our streets.

The Fair Share principle of the City Charter which prohibits a concentration of undesirable municipal facilities must be called upon. Legislation must be adopted to include privately operated facilities such as land transfer stations and marine transfer stations which will become part of the private sector. The Greenpoint community is already home to the largest sewage treatment facility in NYC, has an overabundance of transfer stations, and an existing marine transfer station.

With the closing of Fresh Kills, a responsible management plan to handle the city's daily stream of garbage must be developed. No community should be shouting, "Not in my backyard." Appropriate locations buffered from residential areas must be sought in everyone's backyard. Every community in NYC should expect to share a little of the burden so that no one community is overburdened. We must not allow the creation of another Fresh Kills anywhere in NYC.

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