Council flip-flops on Sanitation garage

Council granted 21-month lease for controversial Williamsburg garage after heated debate. The Department of Sanitation, with a last minute compromise, obtained Council’s approval to extend its Williamsburg garage lease at 306 Rutledge Street for 21 months.

Williamsburg’s Community Board 1 and local residents had opposed any extension of Sanitation’s lease term at the Rutledge street location. Despite complaints that Sanitation blocked parking spaces and washed trucks along the street and sidewalk, the Planning Commission granted Sanitation a 24-month lease extension. In doing so, it cited Sanitation’s continuing need for the facility and its efforts toward securing the garage’s permanent relocation. 2 CityLand 116 (Sept. 15, 2005). Following the Commission’s approval, the City Council voted on August 17, 2005 to hold a hearing and require full Council approval of any lease continuation.

At the September 26th hearing before Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, Council Member David Yassky, Williamsburg’s representative, in his opening remarks noted community complaints about parking and washing trucks in the street, and recommended that the Council refuse to ratify Sanitation’s behavior. Yassky, who does not sit on the Subcommittee, said he would vote against any extension when it came before the full Council.

Sanitation’s Daniel Klein explained that Sanitation implemented operational changes in response to the Community Board’s concerns, and stated that the Board had expressed at its September 19th meeting that it was encouraged by the changes. Klein testified that the Rutledge Street operations would be transferred in the short term to a new garage under construction on Varick Street in Brooklyn while litigation continued on its permanent replacement site. Klein estimated that the Varick Street construction would be complete in 18 months. When asked by Yassky if construction could be rushed and completed within a year, Klein explained that 24 months was the outside date and Sanitation needed at least 18 months.

Despite Sanitation’s 18-month estimate, Yassky suggested that the lease be restricted to one year to “give Sanitation incentive to get it done faster.” Klein emphasized that it was impossible to complete construction within 12 months, commenting that neither the agency nor the community would benefit from an artificial deadline. The Subcommittee approved a one-year lease term-following Yassky’s proposal.

At the full Land Use Committee later that afternoon, Chair Melinda Katz announced that the proposal had been modified to a 21-month term. Council Member Simcha Felder, chair of the Subcommittee that passed the oneyear restriction, asked for clarification, adding that a reduction from the 24 months sought by Sanitation to 21 months did not seem like a compromise by Sanitation. Katz explained that Yassky and Sanitation had reached a last minute agreement and the 21-month period was the only period on the table. The Land Use Committee approved the 21-month lease, sending it to the full Council, which approved on September 28, 2005.

Council: Brooklyn North District 3 Sanitation (September 28, 2005); CPC: Brooklyn North District 3 Sanitation (C 050027 PQK – acquisition of property) (August 8, 2005). CITYADMIN

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