City seeks designs for Gansevoort transfer station


By Albert Amateau

The Department of Sanitation’s hold on the Lower West Side’s Hudson River waterfront was flexed anew on Monday when the department issued a request for proposals, or R.F.P., to design a marine transfer station for recyclable trash on the Gansevoort Peninsula.

Prospective bidders on the design project are expected to tour the 8-acre peninsula between Gansevoort and Little W. 12 Sts. on March 31. Proposals will be due June 4. The department hopes to enter into a design contract on Sept. 6.

A Department of Sanitation spokesperson could not say when construction would begin, but the lags between a design contract, a contract for construction and the beginning of work on a project of this size could be a year or more.

The peninsula — where Sanitation has kept garbage trucks for two districts for many years, and which once had an incinerator and an earlier marine transfer station — was included in the founding 1998 state legislation for the 5-mile-long Hudson River Park.

In 2005, Friends of Hudson River Park, a civic group advocating for the park, filed a lawsuit to force Sanitation to get its current equipment off the peninsula. The action was settled with a court-approved agreement on a timetable for the department to remove its equipment from Gansevoort by 2013 or pay significant “rent” for violating the agreement.

The city’s plan for a three-district Sanitation garage on Spring St. between West and Washington Sts was driven by the need to comply with the provisions of the agreement to settle the Friends of Hudson River Park lawsuit.

The settlement, however, did not forbid the new marine transfer station, which the Bloomberg administration has long said was necessary as part of its Solid Waste Management Plan, or SWAMP, intended to reduce Sanitation truck traffic on city streets.

However, in August 2008 the state Legislature amended the Hudson River Park legislation to allow a new marine transfer station for recyclable paper, metal and glass on the peninsula after Mayor Bloomberg won the support of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for the project.

Nevertheless, local legislators, including Assembly-members Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, the latter a co-sponsor of the original park act, remained opposed to the project.

The city has insisted that the Gansevoort marine transfer station — from which the recyclable waste would be barged to points elsewhere — would be compatible with park use of the peninsula, and would include an educational component on the environment and recycling.

“It is the intent of DSNY that the design of the new Gansevoort MTS be as compatible as possible with the park plan,” says the R.F.P. issued Monday.

But opponents have ridiculed the notion that the transfer station would be appropriate for the park. In addition to a new, two-story barge facility at the facility’s west end, the transfer station would include a 25-foot-wide access road and ramp from the West Side Highway that would rise to a height of 20 feet and “generally run as an elevated roadway” along the peninsula’s northern edge. (The likely intent of the elevated roadway design is to separate the vehicles from park users.) The entire project would occupy 1.36 acres of the 8-acre peninsula, according to the design R.F.P.

The project calls for demolition of all other structures on the peninsula except for the Fire Department pier, which is being reconstructed north of the proposed barge facility.

The R.F.P. expects the steel-frame transfer station to have an upper-level “tipping floor,” accessible by trucks on the ramp, while the access road would accommodate 30 vehicles per hour. The lower level would accommodate a barge slip where two Sanitation open-hopper barges could be positioned to receive recyclables from collection trucks on the tipping floor above.

The facility would also include an enclosed area with a separate entrance that could serve as a lecture hall and a spot from which the public could observe the transfer operations.

However, on Tuesday, Friends of Hudson River Park issued a statement denouncing the city’s “soliciting design services proposals for a new marine transfer station on Gansevoort Peninsula…despite having only conditional authority to move forward on the project. Furthermore,” the Friends statement said, “state legislative requirements for supplemental environmental review of a proposed facility and alternative locations are not adequately addressed in the request for proposals. Consideration of such proposals would dramatically affect the scope of work for such a project. … It seems unwise for the city to commit resources at this time of fiscal hardship when so many variables are still unknown.”