Thursday, March 3, 2011

Local Politicians Fight Against MTA Depot Proposal

By Eric Yun

The city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) are still looking to open another Access-a-Ride depot in Maspeth, but local politicians are unifying in opposition.

The MTA is relocating a Greenpoint, Brooklyn depot set for conversion into a public park and one possible solution is a vacant, city-owned property in Maspeth, on 49th Street between 56th Road and Galasso place in the western, industrial section of Maspeth.

The new depot would be used for parking for MTA’s Access-a-Ride vehicles, but residents said it would only add to the area’s traffic congestion. At capacity, the Greenpoint depot houses approximately 120 vehicles. It is unclear how many vehicles would move to the possible Maspeth site.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). “The city is clearly pushing this through because they made a deal in Brooklyn.”

Van Bramer wrote a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday against the move. “The MTA has two existing depots in Maspeth that add to the pollution and traffic problem. Moreover, the community is overwhelmed with illegal truck traffic and conventional truck traffic because of a large industrial zone adjacent to the area. Another MTA depot would only exacerbate the current health and traffic problem this community already faces,” he said.

The letter was cosigned by Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens), State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Assembly Members Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood), Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) and Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven), and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

Gianaris wrote a separate letter to MTA Chairman Jay Walder about the move. “This is a completely unacceptable situation that indicates the MTA is favoring one New York City neighborhood, located in Brooklyn, over another in Queens,” the letter said. Gianaris applauded the Greenpoint community for fighting for green space, but reiterated that the MTA should not comply at the expense of Maspeth residents.

Van Bramer and Gianaris in their respective letters blasted the MTA and the city for not involving them in the process.

“The disturbing aspect of it is there has been no community input, no notification, no planning,” Van Bramer said. “It appears the administration wants to do this, but we’re going to fight real hard.”

Van Bramer’s office has scheduled a rally at the proposed site on 49th Street and Galasso Place on Friday, March 4, at 2:30 p.m.

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