Community Board 1 has a message for the Sanitation Department — it’s time to take out the trash.
Last Tuesday night, the board’s Land Use Committee unanimously rejected the city’s request to renew its lease on Johnson Avenue East Williamsburg garage in its district because it houses garbage trucks that serve Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick.
“The equitable thing to do is put everyone’s trash [trucks] in their own districts,” said committee Chairman Ward Dennis. “The mayor should be funding the Community [Board] 3 garage [in Bedford-Stuyvesant].”
The city’s long-term Solid Waste Management Plan, released in 2006, was designed to do just that. The Sanitation Department made plans to build a new garage in Bedford Stuyvesant in 2002, but the funding was pulled from last year’s budget.
Until then, two garages, one on Johnson Avenue and another on nearby Varick Street, are housing more than four dozen trash trucks.
“It is a high priority of the department to get this funding back,” said Daniel Klein, the agency’s director of real estate. “A design is complete and the city has site control of the property. We’re just waiting for money to get that to happen.”
The new garage would be on Nostrand Avenue, near another garage on Rutledge Street, just on the Community Board 3 side of the border between Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. With its present lease on Johnson Avenue expiring, the city hoped to temporarily stretch its use of that East Williamsburg garage for another few years.
City policy requires garages for sanitation trucks in each community board, but obstacles such as vanishing industrial space and political unrest have stymied Sanitation officials from achieving those goals. For example, a garage that serves Downtown Brooklyn’s Community Board 2 is actually located on Hamilton Avenue in Community Board 6.
Community Board 1 members instead hope to send a message to the city that there are too many garbage trucks rumbling through the streets of Williamsburg. They argue that the neighborhood manages more than its fair share of the city’s waste, as Williamsburg contains 40 percent of the city’s waste-transfer stations.
The Solid Waste Management Plan has shifted waste from trucks to rails, reducing the amount of tonnage carried by trucks by third over the past year citywide. Yet the Johnson Avenue garage has remained stocked with 29 trucks, which has not reflected any change.
That is an ongoing problem, say many community leaders. The Johnson Avenue site itself has been a Sanitation garage in some form or another since 1954. With a lease extension, it could be in East Williamsburg for another six years at least.
“We’re not talking about being there for the next two decades,” said Klein. “We hope Community Board 1 understands that we are trying to service Brooklyn as a whole and this is the best way to do it.”
Dennis disagreed. He wants the city to move one of those garages out of Williamsburg.
“The short-term plan is even longer than I am,” he said.
©2010 Community News Group
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