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The Fight Continues Against Bloomberg's Garbage Plan

kellner.jpgWhile I was disappointed to learn that earlier this week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a decision granting the City's permit application for a Marine Transfer Station (MTS) at East 91st Street in my district, the fight does not end here. In the Assembly, I continue to push my bill ( A.6829/S.3112 ) to prohibit the siting of a solid waste transfer station within 800 feet of a public housing complex. I am pleased with the progress that bill made this year. It was passed by both the Environmental Conservation and Codes Committees. I also strongly support the Gracie Point Community Council 's plans to file an Article 78 lawsuit in State Supreme Court to challenge the validity of the DEC ruling.

There is still time to put a full stop to this madness. How can the Bloomberg administration continue to argue that this plan makes sense even while the Department of Education prepares for the fall opening of the new PS 151 elementary school on East 91st Street between First and Second Avenues? (See "Braced for Garbage," Our Town, June 17, 2009 .) The good news for us is that the Bloomberg Administration has not budgeted for the project for the upcoming fiscal year, pushing back implementation to 2011 at the earliest. Meanwhile, in addition to the Article 78 proceedings, an earlier lawsuit filed by Gracie Point Community Council arguing that the MTS is unlawful park alienation is still pending.

This project is taking longer and costing more than anyone ever imagined. If the Mayor was truly interested in fiscal discipline and efficient government, he'd abandon this boondoggle now. Elections have consequences.

The Upper East Side and East Harlem communities have repeatedly pointed out why this location is inappropriate-for the children who play outdoors at Asphalt Green, park-goers who use Carl Schurz Park, the East Side River Esplanade and Bobby Wagner Walk, the over 40,000 residents of surrounding residential high-rises, and public housing complexes like Stanley Isaacs Houses and John Haynes Homes.

The fact remains that this neighborhood is one of the most densely populated residential areas in all five boroughs. Had there not been an MTS in this location at some point in the past, it would be illegal to site one there today. The neighborhood that the former MTS was part of is now a very different one. Gone are the light manufacturing uses and warehouses that once lined the East River-this is 2009, and this is a tightly packed network of high rise residential towers, housing projects, parks, and community facilities. The fact that once upon a time there was an MTS at this location has allowed the Mayor to exploit what amounts to a loophole in the law. In the City's application, the proposed MTS was referred to as a "reactivation" of an existing MTS. This is hogwash, and it is more than disappointing that the DEC didn't kick the City to the curb for such transparent word-smithing.

Please check my website ( www.micahkellner.com ) for updates as this situation develops. You can read the full text of the DEC's decision on my blog.