UPPER EAST SIDE — Mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson wants to rush construction of a Meatpacking District recycling plant instead of moving forward with the controversial East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station, he said.
The candidate said he would speed up the building of that site to deal with trash while searching for an alternative Manhattan site to the controversial Upper East Side facility.
“We have to find an additional site in Manhattan,” he told DNAinfo New York after a mayoral forum at Hunter College Wednesday.
“At this point, I’d accelerate the Gansevoort site that’s there. We can accelerate that while we find another site, so I think we have to definitely do that, not just say ‘no.'”
The Gansevoort project is on a peninsula that juts into the Hudson River between Gansevoort and Little West 12th Street.
Pressed again to provide an alternative site, Thompson replied that he wouldn’t be able to figure that out before becoming the city’s mayor.
“If I had all the facilities and the opportunity to be able to come up with a site, I’d do that right now,” he said. “As the mayor, I think it makes it a lot easier to be able to identify the site.”
Anthony Weiner — who, like Thompson, recently proclaimed his MTS opposition — said he supports the status quo.
“It doesn’t have to be anywhere,” he said. “Right now, the trash goes to barges and goes to, goes under a tunnel to New Jersey and would just keep going there.”
Though the MTS — as well as the Gansevoort site — have long been part of the city’s waste management plan, Yorkville residents fear that the new station will bring vermin, traffic, noise and a host of a other health and safety blights to the neighborhood.
It has recently become a flashpoint in the mayoral race, prompting barb-trading and even accusations of race-baiting among candidates.
The issue did not play as prominent a role in Wednesday’s debate as it had in previous forums or stump speeches, but did come up when candidates were asked how they would tackle environmental health disparities between communities.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn stuck to her previous position during the debate, reiterating claims that not building the MTS would worsen asthma rates in disadvantaged communities.
Post-debate, Thompson and Weiner both took issue with this environmental justice position.
“This is a 200 and some odd million dollar bumper sticker for environmental justice when, in fact, it’s really not doing anything, diverting much of anything,” Weiner said.
Thompson’s take on environmental justice also wound up being a dig at Quinn, who on Monday accused Thompson, the former city comptroller, of “pandering'” to the UES with his anti-MTS rhetoric.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said of the pro-MTS camp’s environmental-justice claims. “People continue to make those arguments. It is pandering at its worst.
“That is a bad site.”