Waste Management (WM), the city’s largest waste services provider, is planning to expand its service in western Queens with a new, larger waste transfer station.
WM plans to build the facility at its existing Review Avenue property in Long Island City.
The transfer station would have the capacity to handle two times as much garbage, and would see an increase of approximately 65 incoming and outgoing city sanitation and WM trucks each day.
The company would comply with the city’s eco-friendly long-term waste plan by trucking the extra garbage to a nearby rail yard on Rust Street in Maspeth, where it would be loaded onto trains and transported out of the state.
But elected officials and community leaders objected to the plan from the outset, when it was presented at a public hearing early this summer.
Opponents said the increased waste trucks would add to air pollution in a neighborhood that already carries more than its fair share of waste disposal services.
Since then, little has changed. If anything, opposition to WM’s plan has grown stronger.
“I am outraged that Waste Management would force us into this position,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley at a September 21st rally. “I am calling on them to revise their plan and start with a public hearing.”
Angry residents and Councilman Tony Avella joined Crowley at the rally. In an interview afterwards, Avella criticized WM for moving forward with a plan that shows no feeling for community concerns.
“Nobody knows their community better than the people who live there and the city doesn’t listen to them,” said Avella.
Avella and Crowley suggested several alternatives, including a rail spur connecting the Review Avenue station to nearby train tracks, which would eliminate the need for extra trucks and the additional facility on Rust Street.
Crowley and local small business owners have also suggested WM consider building the rail spur at a for-sale property near the Phelps Dodge site, down the road from the Review Avenue station.
Jim Van Woert, WM’s senior district manager for New York City operations, has said the rail spur is not feasible. Rachel Amar, a company spokesperson, said the Phelps Dodge site is not permitted to receive municipal solid waste.
Nonetheless, Amar wrote in an email, “we continue to listen to community comments regarding the Review Avenue project and are evaluating our future options in response to these concerns.”
Amar said WM’s plan would provide more efficient, eco-friendly waste services in Queens. She said the proposed service date for the facility is February 2011, an indication WM is moving forward with its plans.
Avella said he didn’t understand WM’s refusal to hear residents out on the issue.
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Avella said. “Why [won’t they] listen to the community?”