As far as residents of the Upper East Side are concerned, you don’t exist.
No one lives near the East River in the Bronx, according to those who are waging a last-ditch fight to stop the city from building a new garbage-handling facility on 91nd Street and the East River.
Jed Garfield, the real estate broker who leads the opposition to the waste transfer station, and who lives in an art-filled, five-bedroom townhouse on East 89th Street, told a reporter the city should put the facility near the Hunts Point Market, where “it would not actually touch any neighborhoods.”
Build a new ramp off the Willis Avenue Bridge, his organization suggests. From there, said Al Butzel, a lawyer for opponents of the transfer station, it would be trucked to “derelict waterfront sites” in the South Bronx. Much better, he said, than putting the facility “really next door to a residential community.”
Cocooned in their co-ops and townhouses, the opponents of the city’s plan to oblige Manhattan to share the burden of disposing of the city’s waste may believe that no one lives in the South Bronx, but they have now been joined by politicians who know better.
At a recent candidates’ forum, three men who want to be mayor, Bill de Blasio, John Liu and Bill Thompson, agreed that the plan to build the Manhattan garbage facility needs to be re-examined. Never mind that as members of the city council, de Blasio and Liu voted for the city’s waste-disposal plan. Now that we’ve experienced Hurricane Sandy, they said, to the cheers of their East Side audience, we better take another look.
Can these flip-flop artists be more disingenuous? Do they think the scrap heaps and garbage plants of Hunts Point and Port Morris are perched on a hilltop?
They know that the residents of Hunts Point, Longwood, Port Morris and Mott Haven put up with thousands of trucks rumbling through their streets each day hauling nearly a third of the city’s refuse to 11 waste transfer stations in Hunts Point and six in Port Morris. And they know that Manhattan, whose offices, restaurants and residences generate 40 percent of the city’s garbage, has not a single transfer station.
They’re smart enough to know it is no coincidence that this unequal distribution of the city’s burdens falls on impoverished neighborhoods whose residents are people of color.
They’re betting that the folks on Manhattan’s East Side will be vocal and you’ll be quiet.
“I believe in listening to communities when they raise real concerns, said De Blasio in a statement after the mayoral forum. “People have a right to be heard – and a responsible leader listens.”
Make him and the other candidates for mayor hear you.
Tell them that it’s not fair to continue to inflict a disproportionate share of the noise, odor and pollution of waste-hauling on South Bronx residents.
Tell them that after seven years of debate and litigation over the East Side waste transfer station it’s time to start building it.
Tell them more excuses are just a bunch of garbage.
This editorial appeared in The Hunts Point Express and the Mott Haven Herald on March 8, 2013.