Thursday, September 10, 2009

Officials Push Waste Management to Amend Waste Tranfer Plan

Rail Spur at Review Ave Site Would Help Reduce Truck Traffic

By Conor Greene

Discussions are ongoing between local officials and Waste Management in hopes of convincing the company to build a rail spur adjacent to its Review Avenue transfer station, which would eliminate the need to haul garbage by truck to the Maspeth rail yard.

Waste Management is seeking to expand its existing truck-based solid waste transfer operation at 38-22 Review Avenue with a new rail-based facility that would accept residential trash from neighborhoods within community boards 1-6. However, under the plan the company would transport the trash by truck one-and-a-half miles from Review Avenue to the Maspeth rail yard at Rust Street to access the train line.

Local residents, officials and Community Board 5 members objected to that aspect of the plan and instead want Waste Management to investigate other options that would allow the trash to be placed directly on rails to avoid increasing the amount of truck traffic in that area.

In a resolution approved earlier this year, CB 5 members urged the company to barge the trash directly from the facility, which has access to Newtown Creek, build a rail spur at the site or investigate other nearby properties with rail access such as the former Phelps Dodge site.

Those sentiments were echoed in a July letter to the company from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), which urges Waste Management to come up with a plan that allows the trash to be directly placed on trains, without the 1.5 mile trip through Maspeth. “Until a new plan is put forward… I cannot and will not support any plan for a truck to truck to rail transfer station,” the lawmaker wrote.

An aide to state Senator Joseph Addabbo has been in discussions with Waste Management officials over the past few months. Now that the senate is in recess, Senator Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) will meet in the coming weeks with the company to discuss the community’s objections to the plan.

“Obviously my constituents have a lot of concerns and… residents, especially those who live right near the area directly impacted, certainly should have their voices heard,” said Addabbo. “I will go to the site and talk to them about their proposal… As an elected official I have to see the project done in the most efficient way with the least minimal impact, not only in the short term but post construction.”

Aside to concerns over truck traffic, residents fear the plan will lead to unsafe conditions for pedestrians and will negatively impact the environment through increased emissions, said Addabbo. “On this particular situation, the residents have a lot of concerns, and some are very critical,” he said.

Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5, said he is still waiting to officially hear back from Waste Management on the recommendations made in the resolution rejecting the company’s current plan. He said Waste Management has informed him they “are looking into the possibility” of building a rail spur at the Review Avenue facility. “From our point of view we’re just looking not to increase truck traffic in western Queens and specifically along that route from the Review Avenue facility to where Maspeth Avenue meets Rust Street,” said Giordano.

Crowley said her chief of staff, Lydon Sleeper, has been in contact with Waste Management officials, but she has yet to receive word of a revised plan. “It’s a fairly large project and when you think about how much it costs to truck all this garbage a mile away instead of building a spur, it doesn’t make sense economically or environmentally,” said Crowley.

A Waste Management spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment on the status of discussions between the company and elected officials regarding the plan.

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