Border war! Queens rejects relocation of Greenpoint buses to Maspeth

Border war! Queens rejects relocation of Greenpoint buses to Maspeth
Photo by Sarah Baker

The city’s plan to move MTA buses from Brooklyn to Queens has ignited a border war!

Greenpoint residents pushed the city to secure a deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to relocate its bus depot from a waterfront lot on Commercial Street lot to a manufacturing-zoned asphalt patch in Maspeth.

But that plan hit a Queens-sized pothole — as community leaders there revolted last week.

“I am outraged and livid that the city would attempt to sneak a bus depot into Maspeth,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Queens). “The plan is horrible, reckless and dangerous.”

But Greenpoint leaders argued that moving Access-A-Ride vehicles to an industrial site on the Queens side of the Grand Street Bridge would be harmless.

“I don’t believe that Greenpointers feel that emergency response vehicles have been an undue burden on the neighborhood,” said Levin. “We just want the waterfront park that we were promised.”

As part of the 2005 waterfront rezoning agreement, the city promised to create a park on the city-owned site. But the MTA, which leases the property from the city, has not budged and has rejected alternative sites.

Two weeks ago, the MTA agreed to move the vehicles to Maspeth and to a site under the Williamsburg Bridge. But the inter-borough infighting could scuffle the deal.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Sunset Park), who could cut through the dispute because she represents parts of both affected areas, has only made it worse, indicating that she disapproves of both locations for the MTA vehicles.

That infuriated Brooklyn community leaders — who are urging her to reconsider her decision and advocate for Greenpoint’s park.

“We are very sensitive to the issue of being dumped on, but these two sites are not unsuitable, do not take away usable open space, will not have a negative impact on local residents,” Greenpoint residents Dewey Thompson and Christine Holowacz told Velazquez in a letter this week.

A source close to Velazquez said she would be more open to the Williamsburg Bridge site, as long more parkland is created on the Southside’s waterfront.

That seems reasonable to Community Board 1 member Ward Dennis, who thinks community leaders should continue to pressure the city for more waterfront park space in both boroughs.

“Instead of a substandard park inland, the Southside could get real waterfront access, a larger waterfront esplanade and substantially more open space,” said Dennis, on his blog, 11211. “For a neighborhood that has [the least] open space, this would be a huge step forward.”