Former congressman Anthony Weiner said he opposes opening a garbage facility on East 91st Street, a controversial project that is supported by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and strongly opposed by local residents and politicians on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
“I don’t believe in opening that plant on the East Side,” Weiner said last night while speaking to a Democratic club in Harlem. “They are building that plant on the East Side of Manhattan instead of taking the commercial waste and sending it off to New Jersey. It’s not like it’s going to go off into Brooklyn or even Staten Island or even into this neighborhood. The fact is, this is a talking point.”
The plan to build a garbage facility on the Upper East Side is years in the making. Bloomberg proposed it back when the area was still represented by Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker who was an oppositional force to much of Bloomberg’s agenda.
Quinn, who did not speak at the Harlem event, told Upper East Side residents in February she supported the plan, which drew boos from the crowd.
Quinn said the 91st Street facility is a key part of the mayor’s five-borough plan to have each borough dispose of their own garbage, and that it helped share the burden which historically has been shouldered by poorer neighborhoods. She also said part of that five-borough plan includes a recycling facility in her Chelsea district.
Other mayoral candidates, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Comptroller John Liu, who voted for the plan as members of the City Council, now express reservations about it. Former comptroller Bill Thompson, who visited the East 91st Street site, near Asphalt Green Park, said the plan was a bad idea.
Quinn has already received the endorsement of Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who represents the Upper East Side, but several Democratic clubs there have refused to endorse her (or any other mayoral candidate) because they don’t support her position on the garbage facility.
In Harlem, Weiner said he opposed the 91st Street facility and turned his answer into an opportunity to talk about the unfair distribution of resources between rich and poor neighborhoods.
“I support the idea that when people are going to build, when they’re going to build in a community like this one, not only should they be considering the school impact, not only should they be considering what’s going to be the impact with the sewage, they should be considering what’s going to be the impact on our parks, our recreational places for our kids to play,” Weiner said.
“And on that point, just the same way, just like we’ve tried to distribute tax resources all around, when the mayor goes out and raises a bunch of money from folks to go fix up a neighborhood park, I want to make sure those parks get distributed around the five boroughs, not just in the backyard of a donor.
“It really is the case that very nice neighborhoods like mine get better and better every day because miraculously people are donating to make their neighborhood park better,” Weiner said. “And what we’re doing is we really are creating a gulf between these resources.”
When a woman in the audience yelled out about another garbage facility that was previously operated on 135th Street, Weiner said, “I don’t want that one reopened either.”