Bill Thompson said he not only opposed a plan supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to build a garbage facility on the Upper East Side, but that he wanted a review of the mayor’s entire citywide garbage removal plan.
Speaking outside Asphalt Green on East 91st Street this morning, surrounded by local residents who oppose the garbage facility there, Thompson said, “It’s a bad site.”
Thompson said he opposed it for three reasons: the proposed site is too residential, the facility is too expensive and the whole thing is too ineffective.
“The cost started at $35 million … it is now up to $167 million and we all know the truth,” Thompson said. “It’s going to balloon [to] over $200 million and it isn’t going to solve the problem.”
Garbage to be handled at that facility will come from parts of Manhattan and be sent by ship to New Jersey.
Thompson, speaking into a bullhorn and standing behind a wooden podium, said, “We have to take another look at the entire solid waste plan for the City of New York [to] make sure there is fairness and borough equity, that no borough is dumped on, that it is not unfair.”
Later, I asked Thompson if there was an alternate site he would prefer. He did not identify one.
“You just can’t sit there and say it’s a bad site, which is why I said the entire solid waste plan needs to be revisited,” Thompson said.
He also said he would “absolutely not” seek to reopen a similar facility on 135th Street. Asked by a New York Post reporter about other sites identified in the current plan that he found troublesome, Thompson was not specific.
“I would like to look at the entire plan,” he said.
Bloomberg’s citywide garbage plan was passed by the City Council in 2006 after two years of negotiations and debate. (From 2002 to 2005, the Council was led by Gifford Miller, a Bloomberg crtic who represented the Upper East Side area where the 91st Street station is slated to open.) Supporters of the Upper East Side site said it moved the city toward “environmental justice” by taking some of the burden of waste disposal from poor and minority neighborhoods which host a disproportionate share of gargbage facilities.
Quinn alone supports the current plan, and she was endorsed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who represents the Upper East Side.
A couple of Democratic clubs on the East Side have opted not to endorse any candidates because they were not sufficiently opposed to the 91st Street facility.
Joining Thompson at the announcement today was Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who praised the form comptroller for helping create a high school in the neighborhood when he was the president of the Board of Education, and for fighting “Mayor Mike” after the term limits extension.
“Other people hid in the tall grass, they decided to take a pass,” Kellner said. “It was Bill Thompson who stood up. … Bill Thompson is going to be great for this neighborhood.”
An aide later said Kellner’s remarks were not an endorsement.
UPDATE: Thompson adviser Jonathan Prince said, “Unlike Speaker Quinn, Bill Thompson believes it’s a terrible idea to dump garbage and exhaust fumes on top of a playground. No site in the city’s proposed waste plan exposes more children or more minorities to environmental hazards than the 91st Street location. We all know the Speaker doesn’t have much patience for principle, but now we know that when she loses control she can’t be bothered with the facts either.”
Thompson’s campaign also sent along the following chart.