PLEDGE 2 PROTECT
RUBENSTEIN PUBLIC RELATIONS
CONTACT: MICHELLE MANOFF, 212-843-8051
THE ADVANCE GROUP
CONTACT: SCOTT LEVENSON, 212-239-7323
City’s Decision to Remove Trees at Asphalt Green Demonstrates the de Blasio Administration is Not Holding Discussions in Good Faith – Not Hearing the Facts
Outraged New Yorkers to Picket at Asphalt Green on Friday, May 23rd starting at 6:30 a.m.
NEW YORK, NY (May 22, 2014)—At a press conference on May 21, 2014, Asphalt Green, Pledge 2 Protect, residents of NYCHA housing and over 100 demonstrators expressed outrage at the City for violating good faith discussions to address community concerns with the planned East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS) and the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). The City gave the Asphalt Green sports and fitness facility just 24 hours to prepare for demolition and construction machines to enter its sports field during prime children’s activities hours to remove the 30-year-old pear trees along the northern perimeter of the field and adjacent to a proposed garbage station ramp.
Following a letter from Asphalt Green to the Mayor and Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, the City merely delayed the removal for 48 hours. The City has not answered the question as to why these trees need to be removed now, despite the City’s repeated assurances that the serious concerns of the neighborhood would be addressed.
President of Pledge 2 Protect, Kelly Nimmo-Guenther, stated: “If the City’s decision to move ahead with destroying these trees is an example of how it is listening to our concerns – we have a message: listen harder. If they are serious about the commitment they made to us and not just going through the motions, they will stop this and press the pause button on construction of the East 91st garbage station while we can work out a serious plan to meet the goals of the SWMP and protect the children and adults near the MTS.”
Carol Tweedy, executive director of Asphalt Green said: “It does not make sense that the City would choose to remove these 30-year-old trees without first completing the conversation with the community and addressing our concerns, as the Mayor has promised. This phase of the project is not essential right now and is hugely disruptive to the children, public schools and underserved communities that Asphalt Green serves. The City has pledged to be a good neighbor, and to seriously look at moving this ramp, which is in the wrong place – everybody knows it. Instead, we have been forced to cancel and reduce activities for the wrong reasons, to no one’s benefit.”
The immediate construction area of the East 91st Street MTS affects the health and safety of 34,000 NYC children who use the five-and-a-half acre Asphalt Green campus, including thousands of children who use a toddlers playground located just a few feet from the truck ramp that will be used to access the MTS if and when it is built. In addition, 5,700 New York City Housing Authority residents live within a few hundred feet of the proposed facility. The MTS site is situated next to a park, a playground, an outdoor playing field, near several schools and on a residential street in one of the most densely populated areas of the city, and is also one of the City’s poorest in terms of air quality. In fact, the City’s own zoning laws prohibit construction and operation of a private facility in this location.
Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Garcia have both stated publicly that they are committed to hearing and addressing communities’ concerns about the East 91st Street MTS and the truck ramp on which at minimum a permitted 150 trucks a day will enter and exit, carrying residential and commercial garbage twenty-four hours per day, six days per week. The Commissioner has formed a joint task force to address community, and citywide, concerns with this MTS and the one slated for Gravesend Bay in Southwest Brooklyn.
However, by insisting that the City must remove these trees before completing their discussion, the City appears to be showing that it has no intention to honor its promise to hear and act on these concerns and to listen to alternative solutions that would achieve the goals of the 2006 SWMP, while minimizing impacts on the Asphalt Green children and the larger community at East 91st Street.
Bertha Lewis, president of The Black Institute, speaking for NYCHA residents opposed to the garbage station, said: “The City says it wants to be a good neighbor. Well, it is not by just barreling ahead and not communicating in good faith. We will not be ignored, fooled or insulted by the City. And we consider a two-day delay in the demolition of the pear trees on Asphalt Green’s premises a major insult to our concerns.”
A resident of the neighboring NYCHA buildings, Regina LaCourt, explained: “God forbid one of these garbage trucks hits one of the children getting off the school buses here. We will lay down across the street to stop these bulldozers. I will lay down to protect my three children.”
NYCHA FOR NYCHA, Pledge 2 Protect and Asphalt Green supporters will picket on Friday, May 23, beginning at 6:30 a.m. at Asphalt Green, alongside the ramp entrance at York Ave. and 91st Street, to continuing to show their outrage to the City’s planned removal of the 30-year-old pear trees that line the north side of the Asphalt Green sports field and run along one side of the planned ramp that will lead to the proposed East 91st Street garbage station. Tearing down these trees for no reason is symbolic of what the City is doing to Asphalt Green and the programs that service 34,000 NYC children who use this athletic and fitness facility. The City is showing that it has no intention to honor its promise to hear and act upon the concerns of New Yorkers regarding this MTS and the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan overall.
NYCHA FOR NYCHA, Pledge 2 Protect and Asphalt Green supporters will picket on Friday, May 23, beginning at 6:30 a.m. at Asphalt Green, alongside the ramp entrance at York Avenue and 91st Street. The protesters will show their continued outrage at the City’s planned removal of the 30-year-old pear trees that line the north side of the Asphalt Green sports field and run along one side of the planned ramp that will lead to the proposed East 91st Street garbage station. Tearing down these trees for no reason is symbolic of what the City is doing to Asphalt Green and the programs that service 34,000 NYC children who use this athletic and fitness facility. The City is showing that it has no intention to honor its promise to hear and act on the concerns of New Yorkers regarding this MTS and the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan overall.
About Pledge 2 Protect: Pledge 2 Protect is a growing coalition of residents, organizations, businesses, educators and parents working together to protect the health and safety of tens of thousands of New Yorkers by stopping the construction of a dangerous and ill-conceived garbage station, the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS). Major waste facilities do not belong in ANY residential neighborhood anywhere in the city. Visit www.pledge2protectnyc.org or www.p2pnyc.org. Download the facts here: http://pledge2protectnyc.org/P2P_report-talking_trash.pdf