Concerned Upper East Side residents released a report on Wednesday asking the de Blasio administration to reconsider the city's waste management plan, including the E. 91st St. waste station, pictured. Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
The group opposed to the controversial Upper East Side waste transfer station at E. 91st St. raised the stakes on Wednesday by challenging Mayor Bill de Blasio to overhaul the city's entire waste management plan.
The advocacy group Pledge 2 Protect commissioned an independent report on the city's Solid Waste Management Plan passed by Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council in 2006. In it, the group argues that the city's long-term vision is in need of a new focus.
Approved as a 20-year outline for how New York hands its waste, the plan's stated intent was to more evenly out the city's waste burden, most of which is currently transferred through working-class neighborhoods in South Bronx, North Brooklyn and Jamaica, Queens.
Kelly Nimmo-Guenther, president of Pledge 2 Protect, called the existing plan "admirable" and one with good intentions, but that city will fail to meet its goals unless it addresses what the report says is a growing cost to taxpayers.
"New Yorkers need the City to push the pause button on the outdated 2006 SWMP," Nimmo-Guenther said. "The de Blasio administration has the opportunity to create a truly sustainable waste management system to take NYC into the future."
The group suggested that the city focus on reducing, recycling and composting waste rather than on stations that it estimates are costing the $708 million on four waste marine transfer stations alone.
The de Blasio administration did not immediately respond to request for comment, but a spokeswoman told the New York Times last week that he was committed to the plan.
De Blasio voted in favor of SWMP during his time as a Council member. During last year's Democratic primary, he also offered a measure response to criticism of the E. 91st St. station last year.
"I believe residents have valid concerns that must be addressed in the implementation process, but I continue to support the five-borough plan and the construction of the East 91st Street facility," de Blasio said last May.
Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, suggested that the Pledge 2 Protect wasn't offering anything quite new with the report, repeating much of the same criticism that it laid during the election.
"They’re still getting basic facts wrongs," Bautista said, adding the the money devoted to the project isn't as fungible as the group indicates. "The Mayor can’t just shift money around willy nilly."
Bautista also pointed to the report's claim that less than 2 percent of the city's waste would be funneled to the Upper East Side station, making it not worth the capital investment.
"Isn’t that an argument to drive more commercial waste to that station?" he asked. "The E. 91st St. station will only receive a small fraction of commercial waste that its designed capacity could handle because of community complaints."