AM New York Councilman calls for deeper look into costs, effects of East Side Transfer station by Ivan Pereira
A Manhattan city councilman who's been fighting against the proposed East 91st Street waste transfer station wants the city's independent watchdog group to take a deeper looking into the facility's costs.
Councilman Ben Kallos sent a letter to the Independent Budget Office Tuesday urging it to investigate the rising costs and effectiveness of the station, which is slated to open in 2016.
Kallos told amNewYork that the facility isn't worth the taxpayer dollars or headaches that it will create for the Upper East Side community by the constant influx of garbage trucks and barges that will ship the trash.
"Our letter and campaign has broadened the conversation. It should have been and will be about better waste management for our city," he said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council approved of the plan the new waste transfer station in 2006 as part of an overall intitative to improve the way the city processes waste. The Upper East Side facililty, along with other new stations in Brooklyn and Queens, would alleviate the amount of trash handled at current stations in the outer boroughs and reduce the amount of truck use for shipping the waste.
The IBO issued a report in 2012 that examined the costs of the 91st Street station, and found the facility will cost the city $554.3 million over 20 years.
Kallos said a lot has changed since that report and he predicted the costs will be higher. The Federal Emergency Management Agency designated the area around the facility an AE Flood Zone following Superstorm Sandy and the councilman said that will raise the construction and maintenance expenses.
"We're looking at spending. The price keeps going up," Kallos said.
The councilman also asked the IBO to look into the city's efforts to increase recycling. The plan that approved the transfer stations aimed to increase its recycling rate to 25% by 2007 but it only reached 15.9% that year. Kallos asked the IBO to look into the costs if the city reduces, reuses and recycles up to 50% more waste instead of transferring the waste via barges from the station.
"If we can move away from having the marine transfer station, and spend time on a better recycling initiative, we'd save millions," the councilman predicted.
An IBO spokesman said it received the councilman's letter and will respond to it promptly.
The mayor's office didn't respond to messages for comment, however Mayor Bill de Blasio has been a supporter of city's waste management plan, which also called for the creation of similar facilities in Brooklyn and Queens.
"I hope the administration's response to seeing the report would be to change the waste management plan," Kallos said.