NEWS AND ISSUES


Testimony of New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane to the New York City Council Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Committee Regarding the Proposed Marine Transfer Station to be Located on the Gansevoort Peninsula

June 26, 2006

My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York Statefs 29th Senatorial District, which includes the portion of Hudson River Park that lies in Community Boards 2 and 4. I strongly encourage the New York City Councilfs Committee on Sanitation & Solid Waste Management to reject the proposal to put a marine transfer station on the Gansevoort Peninsula.

It is mind-boggling to me that the Gansevoort Peninsula is even being considered for such a facility. While the esplanade that runs the length of the Park is either already stunning or someday will be stunning, the piers are the heart of the Hudson River Park. And of all the piers within the Park, Gansevoort Peninsula has largest | and the only authentic -land mass. The proposed marine transfer station would deprive park users of this prime open space, block the view from other points in the park and limit public access to the water.

The residents of Community Boards 2 and 4 have a desperate need for such open space. Of all the neighborhoods in New York City, Community Boards 2 and 4 rank last and third-to-last when it comes to parkland and open space per capita. The Hudson River Park was created in part to provide the West Side neighborhoods south of 59th Street with much-needed parkland, and also to compensate them for the many municipal facilities that had long been sited on their waterfront. These facilities included the ventilation shafts for the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, a barge refueling facility for a Con Edison power plant, bus garages, tow pounds, sanitation garages and a heliport, to name but a few. It must also be noted that Community Board 4 sacrificed three of its piers to profit-making commercial uses with tremendous traffic, and Pier 57, bordering the Village and Chelsea, which was an MTA Bus Depot, is also destined soon to be commercialized. The West Side communities that have only recently begun to enjoy the Hudson River Park have hardly been sheltered from shouldering civic burdens.

While it is important for all five boroughs to share the responsibility for unpleasant tasks like waste management, it is just as important that there be equity in access to public amenities, like parks and the waterfront. It should be noted that while the Hudson River Park now finally provides, or will provide, the West Village, Chelsea and Hellfs Kitchen residents of my district with a fairer share of open space, it is hardly theirs alone. The Hudson River Park is a destination that is enjoyed by visitors from all over the city and beyond.

The State Legislature recognized the special nature of this parkland in 1998, when it properly enacted the Hudson River Park Act, which, among other things, specifically prohibits a sanitation facility on the Gansevoort Peninsula. Back then I was still on the City Council, but as a State Legislator today, I will not support any amendments to the Hudson River Park Act that would allow this marine transfer station to be built.

Beyond depriving the public of significant open space and waterfront access, the marine transfer station is expected to bring upwards of 40 trucks per day to the Village waterfront from all over Manhattan to dump recyclables. While mid-day and night-time hours have been proposed to limit the impact of such truck traffic on park users, the bikeway-walkway remains open and is used at all hours of the day. In fact, just last Thursday at around 11:30pm, a Manhattan doctor who was bike riding with his wife on the Parkfs bikeway-walkway was seriously injured when he collided with a Police Department tow truck turning into the tow pound on 38th Street.

Other concerns I have, despite assurances that they will not materialize, include the potential air and noise pollution from these trucks and unpleasant odors that may emanate from the recycling plant and impact other areas of the park.

Proponents of the marine transfer station on the Gansevoort Peninsula argue that Manhattan should be responsible for disposing of its own waste. While Manhattan differs from the other four boroughs not only because of its tremendous commercial density, but also because of its general density and lack of open-space, I agree that the borough can shoulder more of the burden, as it does without complaint in so many other ways. But that does not mean that it must give up a key part of the Hudson River Park to do so.

The Friends of Hudson River Park has already suggested several thoughtful alternatives to this plan, including rail system disposal based in the Penn Station area. The group has also suggested ways to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the trucks that transport garbage throughout the five boroughs.

I appreciate the Committeefs efforts to approve a sensible Solid Waste Management Plan for the City, but I urge you in the strongest possible way to explore reasonable and realistic alternatives to the proposed Gansevoort marine transfer station.


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