City Acknowledges East 91st Street Location is Dangerous by Building Temporary Construction “Cocoon” at Additional Cost to Taxpayers

RUBENSTEIN PUBLIC RELATIONS
Media Contact: Alex Spanakos – aspanakos@rubensteinpr.com, 212-843-9363

NEW YORK, NY (July 22, 2014) – Pledge 2 Protect and NYCHA FOR NYCHA have released City plans previously not made public for the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS) ramp that the groups believe underscore the City’s disingenuous attitude and actions toward New Yorkers. The plans were proposed as part of continued discussions around the health, safety and traffic dangers posed by the new 10-story, 5,280-ton garbage facility in one of the most populous residential areas of New York City.

One plan shows that the City intends to build a temporary 20-foot high steel and mesh “cocoon” over the ramp construction in response to a street-level construction accident that almost impaled an Asphalt Green staffer on the fourth floor.

Regine LaCourt, a mother of children who use Asphalt Green and a resident of nearby NYCHA housing stated, “A temporary cover is an insult to all of us who will have to live with this massive, loud, smelly and dangerous operation for years to come. Is the City taking serious steps to protect children and others here from the thousands of garbage trucks that will pass our homes – no, they are making a show of building a short-term cover over something that should not be here to begin with. Where is the logic? Who is looking out for us?”

Kelly Nimmo-Guenther, president of Pledge 2 Protect added, “The fact that a protective cocoon has to be built makes it blatantly clear that Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Garcia fully understand how dangerous this location is, and yet they continue to build this antiquated garbage station that will endanger far more lives than it will even marginally improve over its anticipated 20-year, billion-dollar life.”

This “cocooning” plan was presented on Monday, July 21st, by the NYC Department of Design and Construction at a meeting with Asphalt Green and the Community Advisory Board for the East 91st Street MTS to review the July 9th accident. The cocoon will take two months to build and will cost an undisclosed amount of money.

A second permanent plan, designed by Dattner Architects for the City Department of Sanitation, would leave the entrance/exit ramp for the garbage facility where it is on East 91st Street, bisecting the Asphalt Green 5-acre campus, and erect a “trellis” roof top while also making other minor street-level modifications. The groups called this option unacceptable, because it maintains the ramp where it is within 11 feet of a specially-designed toddler playground and the front entrance to Asphalt Green, and alongside the outdoor sports field. They also noted that changes like the new trellises and additional air monitors and crossing guards are superficial and insulting. The groups say that these are not adequate safety measures for an industrial operation sited in the middle of sports facilities, playgrounds, parks, schools and homes. Lower East Harlem-Yorkville-Upper East Side is one of the densest residential areas in New York City, with more schools, public housing units and senior centers within a quarter mile of this proposed MTS site than any of the six MTS sites planned around the city. The area also has one of the last “hot spots” in the City and the highest rate of asthma in children.

“These cosmetic changes and other proposals, including ones to move the ramp from East 91st Street to East 92nd Street and York Avenue or to East End Avenue, are wildly inadequate responses to the community’s serious concerns,” said Sean Wood, Pledge 2 Protect Board Member. “The proposals show a reckless lack of concern for an entire residential area of New York City that is densely populated and a designated high-danger flood zone. This MTS will result in increased and dangerous traffic and toxic emissions and moreover doesn’t relieve other communities, so it doesn’t help achieve the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan’s goals.”

Other options on the table include one proposed by Asphalt Green to route the trucks down East 96th Street and use the FDR Drive Service Road to 93rd Street to feed them into a ramp leading to the MTS, and another promising proposal by the City where the garbage trucks would exit at 62nd Street to the FDR Drive and use it to approach the station. However, according to the community groups, the City again demonstrated bad faith by proposing the 62nd Street option and then removing it from the table, as it said the option would be too expensive and would unlikely be approved by the Department of Transportation and State authorities.

Nimmo-Guenther added, “While the City spends money to create a temporary safety structure at East 91st Street, it rules out all reasonable alternatives to the ramp placement, because they claim the cost estimates might not be feasible. But we ask Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Garcia what is the price of a child’s life? How much is ‘too much’ to protect the more than 34,000 children who use the Asphalt Green facility and the hundreds of thousands of children who will be playing chicken with the massive numbers of garbage trucks rumbling towards and exiting from the East 91st Street garbage station? Enough is enough. The de Blasio Administration must stop the construction of this MTS and other MTSes in residential areas – they are accidents waiting to happen.”

“Not only are the trucks a danger but the pollution will have devastating results on so many – perhaps generations,” added LaCourt. “I suffer from severe cardiomyopathy, with serious breathing issues. This garbage station will greatly impact me and others with asthma and breathing ailments. I want to see my children grow up yet, my lifespan may be shortened by a cruel unnecessary garbage operation that is based purely on politics.”

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Renderings available upon request:
• DDC Cocooning – NYC Department of Design & Construction proposal for temporary “cocooning” cover presented to Asphalt Green and the Community Advisory Board for the East 91st Street MTS
• Dattner Plan – A City commissioned proposal for a permanent plan completed by Dattner Architects for East 91st Street MTS

About Pledge 2 Protect
Pledge 2 Protect is a growing coalition of diverse citizens of the City who are working together to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers by raising awareness of the fiscal, environmental and community impacts of the City’s current solid waste management system and plan. NYCHA for NYCHA is a member organization representing more than 2,200 residents in over 1,100 public housing units in Stanley Isaacs and Holmes Houses located just 600 feet away from the proposed East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station.