Statement of Council Member Dan Garodnick on the Army Corps of Engineers' approval of the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station
I want to add my words of disappointment over the recent decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to grant a permit for the 91st Street Marine Transfer Station.
I have been an opponent of this project since before I was elected to the New York City Council, and voted against the Mayor’s Solid Waste Management Plan years ago because it included the misguided reopening of this transfer facility. In short, a site like this should never be opened in a residential area, anywhere in New York City. I firmly hope that we will be able to stop the station’s progress through either political or legal means.
Despite the Army Corps’ approval, there are new issues that have emerged, including the burgeoning costs of reopening this facility. Years ago, the City said the capital costs for the project would be about $50 million. In 2011, that number rose to $125 million, and now, the cost appears to be closer to $200 million. And, according to New York City’s Independent Budget Office, the cost of operations may be as much as $554 million over 20 years. Also according to the IBO, processing the garbage on 91st Street may cost more than twice as much as it does today – $238 a ton as opposed to today’s $90 a ton, the current cost of shipping waste to New Jersey. With the City’s structural deficit – including an anticipated $2.5 billion deficit next year alone – and growing costs of non-controllable expenditures like Medicaid and pension obligations, we need to take a careful look at the costs to which we are committing ourselves, and whether increasing our spending in this way makes sense from a budgetary perspective.
Opening this site will have an extraordinarily negative impact on the surrounding community. I am sensitive to the past injustices of siting of garbage facilities, and firmly believe that the City needs to find more sound and environmentally friendly ways to operate. Yet my constituents live a mere 220 feet away, and their existence will be irreparably damaged if the facility is allowed to open.