Years ago, the city began moving forward with implementing a comprehensive 20-year plan to deal with municipal waste.
The goal of the plan was to ensure that all neighborhoods do their part in handling municipal waste to correct an unforeseen consequence of closing the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.
When the landfill closed, the city did not have a comprehensive plan in place to deal with shipping waste out of state, and land-based transfer stations – where garbage trucks transported collected waste so it could be loaded on even bigger trucks and transported to landfills – became prevalent in several areas around the city.
Not only did this mean that these neighborhoods, such as Jamaica in Queens and East Williamsburg in Brooklyn, begin to be overburdened by garbage trucks, the system meant that thousands of large 18-wheelers were on the city’s roads and expressways.
The solution? Try to utilize barge and rail more effectively. So for years, the city worked with local elected officials to come up with an equitable way to handle waste, and as you can imagine it was not an easy plan to iron out.
No neighborhood in the city wanted to be on the receiving end of a new marine or rail transfer station, but they all realized that it was the fair thing to do, and in the long run would be best for New York City as a whole.
All but one, that is.
Residents of the Upper East Side continue to fight the construction of a marine transfer station near 91st Street on the East River, despite the fact that this plan was vetted for years at City Council hearings and public meetings – we know, we were at a lot of them – and eventually approved.
This week, the city received approval and permits from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction on the facility. Cue the “outraged” politicians who are now vowing to fight the facility in court, holding up a plan that will benefit all of New York, and only asks that all neighborhoods contribute their fair share to the problem of handling the city’s garbage.
Seems like a pretty reasonable thing to ask.
The Department of Sanitation in conjunction with the city’s elected officials worked for a long time to come up with this plan, and at the time residents from the Upper East Side expressed their displeasure. Their concerns were heard and considered, but ultimately the City Council voted in favor of the plan.
The time for fighting is over.