Upper East Side pushes back against garbage facility

A planned marine waste transfer station, seen across from Asphalt Green's playing field, has Upper East Side residents scrambling for political support to reverse the project.  Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
A planned marine waste transfer station, seen across from Asphalt Green’s playing field, has Upper East Side residents scrambling for political support to reverse the project.
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

For opponents of a waste transfer station planned for the Upper East Side, the election presents what might be the last opportunity to highlight health concerns and halt its construction.

“We’re looking for the next mayor to stop this,” said Kelly Nimmo-Guenther, president of Pledge 2 Protect, a coalition against the facility.

Of major candidates, six have signed the coalition’s pledge — and opponents are hoping to make the issue stick come November. Nearly every day, volunteers canvas the neighborhood, passing out literature noting candidates who support the heavily-contested East 91st Street marine waste transfer station.

“The next mayor does have the right to look at all of the angles,” Nimmo-Guenther said.

The 91st Street facility is one of several marine transfer stations to be converted after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council passed a new waste management plan in 2006. Prior to the plan, more than 12,000 tons of residential garbage was processed by private companies in New York and New Jersey.

A 2008 map of upcoming marine waste transfer stations and existing facilities, with circles surrounding  neighborhoods with the highest number of waste transfer stations. Credit: HabitatMap
A 2008 map of upcoming marine waste transfer stations and existing facilities, with circles surrounding neighborhoods with the highest number of waste transfer stations.
Credit: HabitatMap

“I think any candidate that would disrupt this … there would certainly be some blowback in other neighborhoods,” said Gavin Kearney, director of environmental justice at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

The plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles trucking through other, lower-income, neighborhoods in the outer boroughs, said Courtney Renken of the Organization United for Trash Reduction & Garbage Equity.

“What we want is for every community to have that share of the burden,” Renken said.

In North Brooklyn where Renken lives, there are 16 such waste stations treating 40 percent of the city’s waste.

Independent Environmental Services Inc. in Greenpoint handles construction and demolition debris. It's one of 16 waste transfer stations in northern Brooklyn. Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
Independent Environmental Services Inc. in Greenpoint handles construction and demolition debris. It’s one of 16 waste transfer stations in northern Brooklyn.
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

Still, Nimmo-Guenther and those against the facility see it as an unnecessary health risk. One of the main concerns is increased exposure to fumes from trucks that would pass right by Asphalt Green, a not-for-profit sports and fitness complex next to the trash station, currently in the first phase of construction.

Asphalt Green’s executive director, Carol Tweedy, invited all the candidates to come visit the facility to see where garbage trucks would pass through.

“I wouldn’t even have to open my mouth before they go, ‘Oh no, this is not a good idea,’” Tweedy said of those against the facility.

A supporter of the project and the subject of much of the propaganda handed out by its opponents, City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, has said her rivals “continue to pander to residents of the Upper East Side.”

“Some say they would take 91st Street out of the plan altogether,” Quinn said during a speech in June, adding that changing the location could mean another decade before a new plan is approved and implemented.

Executive Director of Asphalt Green, Carol Tweedy with the upcoming garbage dump behind her. Tweedy is worried about kids playing at the not-for-profit sports and fitness complex when the waste transfer station is complete. Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
The executive director of Asphalt Green, Carol Tweedy, stands before the site of the planned garbage dump. Tweedy is worried about kids playing at the nonprofit gym when the waste transfer station is complete.
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

Still, opponents are resilient.

Asphalt Green will spend roughly $64,000 on an ad campaign against the facility launched last week, which includes sending mailers to some 100,000 Upper East Side residents. At the end of July, several doctors formed their own coalition to target politicians in a new push against the project.

“It flies in the face of medical common sense,” said Dr. Hindola Konrad, an eye surgeon involved with Doctors Who Pledge 2 Protect, noting particulate matter from the facility could harm resisdents’ health.

Konrad, who lives blocks from the proposed waste station, said the new group is going to become more vocal in the coming weeks.

“We’re going to be targeting our legislators in the upcoming election,” Konrad said.

Despite their plans, Kearney doesn’t think it’s wise for candidates to commit to stopping the trash project.

“For a candidate to come in and make a promise that doesn’t affect all New Yorkers, I think it’s a terrible strategy,” he said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.