Garbage garage gets a go-ahead

By Albert Amateau

The City Planning Commission on Tuesday voted in favor of the three-district Department of Sanitation facility planned for the UPS property at the west end of Spring St. with one dissenting vote.

But Hudson Square and Tribeca neighbors who have opposed the proposed 118-foot-tall garage on the north side of Spring St. — with an accompanying 80-foot-high salt-pile shed on the south side of Spring St. at the site of an existing Sanitation Department facility — have vowed to continue fighting the project until it goes to the City Council and, if it gets council approval, with a lawsuit.

“This vote was anticipated,” said Phil Mouquinho, chairperson of the Community Sanitation Steering Committee. “We’re going to fight to the bitter end.”

Mouquinho told Downtown Express recently that the committee has already retained Kenneth McCallion, a plaintiff’s attorney who successfully sued Dow Chemical, Shoreham nuclear power plant and Exxon in the Valdez, Alaska, oil spill.

Angela Cavaluzzi, the Manhattan borough president’s sole Planning Commission appointee, who voted “No,” noted opponents’ objections to the inclusion of Sanitation District 5, in addition to Districts 1 and 2, in the project. She also said she hoped the Sanitation Department would eliminate the salt-pile shed at Spring St.

Ellen Peterson Lewis, a public member of Community Board 2, said the Planning Commission was “a rubber stamp” for the Bloomberg administration. She called the project “an outrage to neighbors” in an area that increasingly has become residential. Lewis said the Sanitation garage would interfere with people going into Hudson River Park across from the proposed garage. She was very concerned with the effect of garbage truck exhaust on children, who are especially susceptible to asthma.

However, Amanda Burden, the commission’s chairperson, prefaced her “Yes” vote by saying, “The project will provide a critical service for the city and the neighborhoods it serves. It will also remove [the Department of Sanitation] from the Gansevoort Peninsula and allow it to be included in the Hudson River Park.”

Burden said the City Planning Department has made many changes in the original design in response to the Planning Commission’s concerns. She added that Sanitation has agreed to minimize the refueling of vehicles from other agencies that will take place at the facility and will monitor the queuing on West St. of trucks waiting to enter the garage.

The City Council has 20 days to decide whether to review the project and, if it does, must hold a hearing and make a final decision 30 days after the review.