Stringer floats idea to move some garbage trucks out of Hudson Square

By Josh Rogers

Volume 21, Number 13 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | AUGUST 8 – 14, 2008

SW. Chelsea considered as Stringer eyes Sanitation ‘fair share’

26th St. garage would cut down on Spring St. use

Borough President Scott Stringer told Downtown Express Thursday that he has asked the city to consider moving a proposed Sanitation garage to Chelsea in order to avoid dumping too many garbage trucks in Hudson Square.

The new use would be moved into an existing Sanitation garage on W. 26th St. between 11th and 12th Aves. and serve Community Board 5, which includes part of Chelsea. Stringer said he is concerned about neighborhoods getting their “fair share” of Sanitation facilities.

The current city plan is to build a 120-foot tall Sanitation garage at Spring and Washington Sts. to serve the two nearby community boards as well as C.B. 5, which includes much of Midtown, Union Square and a corner of Chelsea.

The plan has received strong opposition from Community Boards 1 and 2, local politicians, and residents of Tribeca, Soho, the Village as well as Hudson Square.

Stringer said he is in “fierce discussions” with the Sanitation Department since his formal opinion is due on the plan on Monday. On Friday, Aug. 8, he has a meeting planned with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes Chelsea, and the chairpersons of the affected community boards – 1,2, 4 and 5.

He declined to discuss more specifics of the alternative site since he had not talked about it yet with community leaders. Moving Sanitation District 5 — which coincides with the community board lines – to Chelsea would reduce the amount of truck traffic throughout the borough, Stringer said. Under the city plan, District 5 trucks would have to travel from Chelsea and Midtown up to the E. 91st St. marine transfer station and then down to the west end of Manhattan at Spring St. to park.

“There is a real concern about truck traffic balance through this community and to the extent you can mitigate that — I’m concerned about” doing that, Stringer said in an interview in Downtown Express’s office.

Shaan Khan, Stringer’s director of community relations, said “one of the reasons why we’re interested in Sanitation studying this other site in Chelsea is it’s already owned by Sanitation and it appears there may be room for the District 5 trucks to go there.”

The city plans to buy the large Spring St. lot from U.P.S., which parks its trucks there. U.P.S., which has said it faced an eminent domain threat from the city, would still be able to park in the new garage. Many of the Sanitation trucks in the new facility currently park in the Hudson River Park on the Gansevoort Peninsula and have to leave by 2012 as part of a lawsuit settlement filed by park advocates.

The large W. 26th St. facility is used in part to repair Sanitation trucks that serve the Bronx, Stringer said, and moving those trucks out could provide enough room for District 5.

He has discussed the site with John Doherty, Sanitation Commissioner, and Stringer staffers toured the facility this week.

Dan Klein, who heads Sanitation’s real estate department, said the District 5 uses can’t fit because of all of the existing uses, but he did not address the point Stringer made about moving the Bronx uses out of the building.

“The building is fully used,” he told Downtown Express.

Klein did not sound like the city wanted to negotiate with Stringer over the weekend. “He has until Monday,” Klein said Thursday. “We’ll respond when we get his recommendation.” A few minutes later, the department’s press office issued a prepared statement to Downtown Express saying it would respond to Stringer after the formal recommendation.

Stringer said: “I met personally at the table with Doherty and told them what my bottom line was.”

He said he will not make a final decision on recommending the 26th St. location as a possibility until he speaks more with community leaders and Sanitation. If Sanitation commits to studying the alternative, it will mean the City Council will have the option of voting for the alternative when the city plan comes for an up or down vote later this year.

In addition to an alternative site close to District 5, Stringer is also looking for a better connection to the Hudson River Park at Spring St., which could come in the form of a crosswalk and a small plaza at Spring St., immediately north of Canal Park. This plaza is slated to get a salt pile storage center, but Stringer wants the city to consider four alternative salt locations already identified by the Dept. of Sanitation, particularly since traffic from Canal St., the Holland Tunnel, and the West Side Highway make it difficult to get to the riverside park near Spring St.

“If we can get all that,” Stringer said before referring to the limits of his role in the land use process known as ULURP, “you could argue job well done given you have an advisory opinion.”