Skip to main content

Trash on the streets? New buildings not required to containerize garbage (but they should)

If one thing was clear from a discussion on garbage at the Atlantic Yards project, it's that trash from 7,300 new residential units shouldn't be put on the street. Carmen Cognetta, Counsel to the Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee of the New York City Council, last Thursday urged members of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee to pressure city officials and the developer. "Nothing in the building code requires that buildings set aside space for trash," he said. "You need to work with the developer. It needs to be containerized in the building."

Cognetta said that the City Council committee has been urging the Buildings Department to require storage space and trash compactors in new residential facilities.

Assemblywoman Joan Millman picked up on that. Garbage bags on the streets could pose hazards: "It's going to be incumbent on us to talk to the developer" so inhouse garbage storage is part of the building.

"I think that's a reasonable 'ask' for us," Millman said. (This was another exchange in the Atlantic Yards Committee hearings which could have been clarified with input from developer Forest City Ratner or the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which is conducting the environmental review.)

While the Sanitation Department, Cognetta said, is required to accept trash from large private buildings, many high-rise buildings pay for private trash collection, for convenience regarding the scheduling of pickups.

The final meeting of the Atlantic Yards Committee addressed issues of land use, sanitation, and hazardous materials. (Land use coverage here and here.)

Where does it go?

An arena that attracts thousands of people would inevitably create additional waste, both inside the arena and on the streets outside. How does the city deal with other sports facilities?

Arena trash is often picked up by private carters. "I'd suggest you visit Madison Square Gardens, the Meadowlands, Yankee Stadium," Cognetta said. "Some do it better than others."

Borough President Marty Markowitz pushed Cognetta to give an example. "I think Shea Stadium does it best," he responded.

Vincent DiPolo, a superintendent in the Department of Sanitation, said the city was prepared. "We'll assign additional cleaning personnel, and additional equipment."

How would recycling work? "I'm not sure how arenas set up recycling," DiPolo said, pointing out that many sports facilities are served by private carters. "If they work with us, we work with them."

Where would the residential trash go? "To our existing sites," DiPolo said. Typically the trash is taken in city trucks to waste transfer stations, where private vendors take it out of state, usually by road.

However, the city aims to revive and rebuild marine waste transfer stations that were decommissioned after the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island was closed in 2001. Brooklyn has three such transfer stations; the closest would be Hamilton Avenue station on the Gowanus Canal.

Cognetta added, "Hopefully, marine transfer stations would be built by the time this is built." He added that Council Member Michael McMahon, chair of the Sanitation Committee, said he would be happy to have a hearing on issues raised by Atlantic Yards.

New burdens?

Jerry Armer, chair of Community Board 6, observed that truck traffic would increase in an area that already is quite busy. Cognetta downplayed the issue: "A trash truck holds 12 tons. Probably one truck could handle what comes out of those buildings every other day. One, possibly two trucks."

Kate Suisman, legislative aide to Council Member Letitia James, wasn't convinced: "One truck can carry the trash for 7000 units or 18,000 people?"

Cognetta said it depends on the lifestyle patterns of residents--whether they eat at home or not--and how well they recycle.

"Seven thousand new residential units would seem to put a heck of a strain on existing equipment and manpower," added Armer. "What will it cost the city? Assuming this is built, we're going to have to live with the cost."

DiPolo said, "We'll allocate additional resources to do this." Cognetta added, "I know 7000 residential units sound like a lit, but there are 8.5 million people in the city. They really can adjust to that pretty quickly." The cost question was unanswered, though the Independent Budget Office in September tried to assess it.

Shirley McRae, chair of Community Board 2, said she was worried about existing residents, who might be vulnerable to fines because of garbage left by arena attendees. "Will Sanitation keep that in mind as it's enforcing rules?" she asked.

"We have to use our discretion," DiPolo replied. "I can't answer yes or no."

Hazardous materials

The issue of city responsibility for a state project was raised as Robert Kulikowski, director of the city Office of Environmental Coordination, discussed the remediation of hazardous waste. The presence of such materials ordinarily could trigger a remdial action plan from the city, but because this is a state project, there are other solutions. Developer Forest City Ratner, could act voluntarily, using funds from a state grant program for brownfields. Alternatively, the state environmental agency could supervise the cleanup.

What kind of materials might be found in the railyards, asked Greg Atkins, Markowitz's chief of staff.

Kulikowski said the cleanup of the High Line in Manhattan offered some hints: creosote, several heavy metals, organic compounds, and petroleum.

How difficult is it to mitigate them? "They're not," Kulikowski responded. "Pretty much anything these days is mitigatible. It depends on how much money you want to spend."

"The bottom line is to protect health and safety," he continued. "The important thing is you want to prevent further contamination," to protect groundwater.

Kulkowski acknowledged that Forest City Ratner does not have the legal responsibility to clean up the site if the company did not put the contaminants there. At the same time, he said, he thinks that FCR has applied to the brownfields cleanup program--"but don't quote me." (This was another exchange in which the presence of the developer could have clarified things.)

He clarified the issue: "While they're not legally bound, the state could say, 'We can't find the responsible party. You bought it; you've got to clean it up.'"

Another incentive for the developer, he said, might be to clean up the site because, otherwise, "your bank won't lend you the money" to build.

Armer pointed out that, even with tax credits, the cost of cleanup could be hefty. Kulikowski responded, "The developer knows the financial considerations and is willing to do this."

Armer pointed out that part of the site is covered in concrete and used as a "dead bus storage yard." Would contamination form buses, such as battery acids, also be investigated? Kulikowski said yes.

Would there be different standards for cleanup of the site that would be used for the arena, as opposed to the new railyard? Kulikowski said yes, as standards depend on the end use.

Millman raised a practical concern of constituents; what happens if the water gets turned off on nearby blocks, as had happened during the recent reconstruction of Smith Street. "It's a valid question," Kulikowski response. "You can't answer until you know more specifics." But he said the city, state, and developer would all have to work together on such issues.

"This is just a very large construction project," he said.

Millman continued, "It'll be asked again, until we get an answer."

Making a difference: Marty, Millman, Tish, and the CBs

It was the last of nine meetings of the committee. Borough President Marty Markowitz and his chief of staff, Greg Atkins, generally led off the panels with useful questions, though occasionally leading ones. Among public officials, Assemblywoman Joan Millman stood out as usual on Thursday, asking several forceful questions. She also brought an aide. Assemblyman Roger Green didn't come or send an aide; neither did State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, though she usually sends a staffer. An aide to City Council Member David Yassky attended, as is typical. State Senator Carl Andrews, whose absence was so consistent that I forgot to include him in a preview article, this time sent an aide. In my previous article, I also neglected to include Council Members Al Vann and Bill DeBlasio, who have been largely absent.

Besides Millman, however, the only elected official (or aide to an elected official) who asked questions was Kate Suisman, an aide to City Council Member Letitia James. The leading public official opposing the project, James (and her surrogate) have been generally skeptical.

The Community Board representatives consistently inquired about practical issues, during the process in general, and on Thursday. Among Community Board representatives, Jerry Armer, chair of CB6, asked several challenging questions, as is typical. Shirley McRae, chair of CB2, and Robert Matthews, chair of CB8, weighed in consistently.

There were more than a dozen people around the table, with fewer in the audience. Along among the press, News12 showed up to shoot some excerpts and later interviews. In the audience were representatives of the Municipal Art Society and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

Some conversations among participants continued in the hall as Borough Hall staffers folded tables and moved chairs. The cameras moved outside. Once it was feared that the ESDC's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)--whose provisions this process was supposed to track--might emerge before the last committee hearing. Now that the disqualification of an ESDC lawyer has been appealed, it's unclear how long it will take. What is clear is that many questions surround this project, and answers--whether in the DEIS or in another form--are needed.


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed--but not yet approved--shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…