Maspeth cannot and will not be a de-facto depository for MTA facilities in New York City - it is already home to two MTA depots and that’s more than enough for one community to bear.
Far too often, Maspeth is strangled by traffic, including the many buses and trucks that rumble throughout the neighborhood. Our children suffer from abnormally high asthma rates and senior citizens frequently report respiratory problems at rates higher than in other communities in New York City. An additional MTA depot in the community would only exacerbate Maspeth’s already overwhelming pollution, traffic, and health problems.
Where is the city’s commitment to Maspeth? Maspeth needs more green space too, and Saint Saviour's represents an ideal opportunity to make this happen. Let me be clear – this is not a “battle of the boroughs” between Queens and Brooklyn. Rather, it is an issue of what is right and what is wrong, what is intelligent and what is uninformed, what is just and what is unjust, when it comes to city planning and the communities affected by reckless and ignorant decisions.
Everything about this deal is disturbing. From the rush to judgment to site the facility, which included the MTA reversing its prior decision to reject the Maspeth site, to the secretive process in which transparency and community input were thrown out the window. This is wrong and I refuse to stand idly by as the voices of my constituents are ignored.
The selection process for “suitable” areas gave absolutely no notice to the Community Board, neighbors or local elected officials – an essential element to any quality-of-life altering development decision. The flawed selection process for alternative locations for the depot/garage fails to include an environmental impact study, which would have determined the vehicle depot’s impact on the community, and further failed to estimate the cost of the site’s remediation cleanup to taxpayers. This lack of community input, taken with a lack of essential information required in making an intelligent decision frustrates my constituents and causes me great concern.
At this point, I am considering all options, including legal remedies to deter the city and the MTA’s dumping of an additional depot in Maspeth. Some people in Brooklyn have claimed victory as a result of a recent letter that MTA Chairman Jay Walder wrote to Deputy Mayor Steel. These statements are premature. The MTA merely stated that the proposed site in Maspeth is “suitable” for relocation and that a feasibility study will now be conducted - this is not a done deal.
No action can be made until a feasibility study is completed and funding for this project is secured. I would like to know where the MTA and the city, in a period of great economic hardship, plans to come up with the millions of dollars that would be required to build a new park, move the existing depot and build a new depot, which may require significant remediation.
Any move to build a depot in Maspeth would take millions of dollars in funding away from our senior centers, libraries, and schools—an incredibly irresponsible decision, particularly when the existing MTA Access-A-Ride Depot works just fine in Brooklyn. We need to start thinking dollars and common sense before promises are made to anyone. The battle is far from over and Maspeth and I will not give up without a fight.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer represents the 26th District in the New York City Council. His District is in Western Queens.