We are not sure what happened since June of last year, when The Times took into account the objections the residents of the Stanley M. Isaacs Houses, whose public housing sits adjacent to the proposed trash transfer station:
Lorraine Johnson says she remembers the garbage trucks that lined up near her housing project on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, to unload trash at a marine sanitation station on the East River. They made noise, spewed diesel fumes, attracted rats and smelled bad — “like dead bodies,” she said.
“I have nightmares just thinking that there’s a possibility that they might come back,” said Ms. Johnson, 66, a disabled resident of the Stanley M. Isaacs Houses, at 94th Street and First Avenue.
The proximity of public housing figures prominently in a battle by Upper East Side residents to derail a city plan to reactivate a waste transfer station on the East River at 91st Street. In lawsuits, rallies and lobbying in the State Legislature, they argue that economically disadvantaged residents, already struggling, should not be saddled with additional problems.
“How can you ignore the fact that the closest community is 80 percent minority?” said Anthony Ard, president of the Gracie Point Community Council, a neighborhood group that was founded to fight the plan.While The Times article also brought the environmental justice arguments of those outside Manhattan into the discussion, they previously gave voice to the residents most affected by the proposal.
Indeed, we staunchly disagree with the rationale behind this project. The 91st Street Marine Transfer Station will not improve "environmental justice" within New York City. Instead, this floating garbage dump will:
- Dramatically increase air pollution and asthma risk throughout one of New York's worst neighborhoods for air quality
- Increase traffic and safety risks to children, bicyclists, and other pedestrians as garbage trucks to drive through and idle in one of New York City's most densely populated residential areas 24-hours-a-day and up to 7-days-a-week
- Reduce the quality of life for many working class, elderly, and disabled New Yorkers through its close proximity to numerous public housing projects, subsidized apartments, and special needs care facilities
- Decrease the accessibility and desirability of numerous parks, public schools, and houses of worship located within several blocks of the proposed facility
- Violate FAA guidelines by placing trash facility just three miles from one of America's busiest airports
- Increase the risk of interference with take-offs and landings a LGA, by stimulating population growth among the area's scavenger bird population, according to “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley Sullenberger,
Yes to environmental justice, but all Manhattan neighborhoods are not created equal
Yes, environmental justice is critically important to societal fairness. However, in looking at the problem at the borough/macro level, Mayor Bloomberg, heir apparent Christine Quinn, and The New York Times are missing the impact on the micro/neighborhood level.
Yorkville, with the highest population density in New York (as illustrated on the map above left) sits between one of the nation's wealthiest neighborhoods and one of the city's poorest. With the proposed trash facility located across from Yorkville's massive public housing projects, and straddling the border of East Harlem and New York's largest concentration of public housing (as illustrated by the bubbles in the map on the left), the 91st Street Marine Transfer station hardly fits the greater ideal behind "environmental justice."
If the mayor, Speaker Quinn, and The New York Times really want to achieve environmental justice by placing a trash transfer station in Manhattan, they ought to consider building it as far from public low-income housing as humanly possible.
Perhaps they should consider placing the Marine Transfer Station along the Hudson at Donald Trump's "Trump Place" development, bringing the barges closer to likely destinations in New Jersey and the station closer to the wealth required to inject environmental justice into the discussion.