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Colton came late to garbage war - Brooklyn Paper

Colton came late to garbage war

Talkin’ trash: Assemblyman Bill Colton speaks at one of his many rallies against the Bensonhurst Waste Transfer Station — a plan he initially supported.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

You could call it dirty politics.

Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bath Beach) has made a signature issue of fighting a proposed garbage transfer station at the end of Bay 41st Street — but this paper has learned that in fact, the prominent opponent was for the project before he was against it.

Mayor Bloomberg announced in 2002 that he wanted to have marine depots compact and package household trash for shipment to landfills, instead of using incinerators like the one that formerly operated at the proposed transfer station site on Gravesend Bay. News outlets reported that Colton — then chairman of the Assembly’s Commission on Solid Waste — reacted positively to the plan, only asking that hizzoner also work to increase recycling.

When the city announced its plans in 2003 to knock down the old incinerator facility — which had been out of commission since 1991 — to make way for the trash terminal, Colton applauded the destruction of an eyesore. The assemblyman also praised the plan to move compacted refuse via boat, which would relieve garbage truck traffic.

“The fact that the site will be used to ship trash out by barge rather than by truck is also good news,” Colton told the Daily News.

This paper could find no evidence that Colton protested the planned waste transfer station during the next three years, even though state literature lists “oversight of the NYC Solid Waste Management Plan” as one of his responsibilities as chairman of the Solid Waste Commission.

It was not until 2006, after both Community Board 11 and the Council voted to approve the garbage depot that Colton came out against the facility, claiming that its construction would dredge up poisonous residues from the incinerator.

Colton launched a lawsuit against the station in 2012. The petition repeated his claims about the danger of stirring toxins in the water, and added concerns about truck traffic going to the facility. It even raised the possibility that the dredging could touch off unexploded shells dumped in the bay when a munitions ship capsized there in 1954.

But Colton failed to voice these objections during the critical planning stages in the early 2000s.

A State Supreme Court judge struck down the suit in May. Colton has since vowed to appeal.

Colton did not return repeated calls for comment.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him attwitter.com/WillBredderman.

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