Marcia Bystryn is the President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, an organization I have always admired. I support many environmental causes and agree with Marcia on 99% of her and her organization’s positions.

This past Monday, however, on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, she defended a lethal and environmentally unsound Bloomberg/de Blasio plan to build a huge garbage site in the heart of a residential neighborhood.

The 91st Street Marine Transfer Station would be illegal were it not for “grandfathering,” a strategy that enables government bodies to break current laws by saying, “It used to be here in the past so, disastrous as it was, that justifies it coming back now.” This is as morally twisted as saying, “Grandpa used to savagely beat his children so, damaging as that was, he must now be allowed to savagely beat his grandchildren.”

Voters fought for modern laws to protect themselves from old environmental evils. To arbitrarily overturn these laws on a technicality is to subvert the will of the people and the spirit of the law. And the spirit of progressive politics.

The garbage site is in Yorkville five blocks south of East Harlem. Trucks will bring hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage into what may be the most densely populated, heavily polluted, and asthmatic neighborhood in the city. They will dump their loads (illegally were it not for grandfathering) right opposite one thousand units of public housing.

The new garbage site is infinitely more dangerous than the much smaller one it is intended to replace. That one, which got closed down 15 years ago, was built in the 1930s in what was then an entirely industrial part of Yorkville. The area is now entirely residential except for several schools, a hospital, and a couple of stores and restaurants.

Right next to the proposed garbage site – straddling its short access road, in fact – is an athletic facility used by 34,000 city kids a year, most from public schools with no athletic facilities of their own. Its sports field is on one side of the access road, its indoor swimming pool and changing rooms are on the other.

Anyone with half a brain and a calculator can see that tragedy is inevitable…

Read Matthew Chapman’s full blog, “Marcia Byrstyn Is Not Accepting E-Mails,” on