DOS garage and salt shed plan opposed by community

Controversial proposal would consolidate three Community District sanitation garages and add salt shed tower. On August 27, 2008, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on the Department of Sanitation’s plan to build a 118-ft. tall service and maintenance garage and 30- 75-ft. tall salt shed in SoHo, Manhattan, just east of the Holland Tunnel. Sanitation’s proposal is a response to the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, which requires Sanitation to vacate Gansevoort peninsula, the current location of a salt pile and sanitation garage that serves Community Districts 2, 4, and 5. The proposed 190- 200 ft. wide, 413 ft. long garage would be located at 500 Washington Street, south of St. John’s Center. The garage would provide support services for Sanitation’s operations in Districts 1, 2, and 5, including a 34,000 gallon refueling station. The salt shed would replace Sanitation’s District 1 garage located at 553 Canal Street. The shed would cover the entire 14,575 sq.ft. lot area.

At the hearing, Sanitation representatives testified that consolidating the three District garages at Washington Street would provide efficient dispersal of sanitation vehicles and allow the City to convert the Gansevoort peninsula garage site into green space.

Many local residents testified in opposition, focusing their criticisms on the environmental impact of both the garage and salt shed, as well as Community District 5’s use of the facility. Katharine Wolpe, president of the Village Independent Democrats, stated that an increase in daily truck trips would lead to more traffic congestion and air pollution for an area already suffering from the poorest air quality in Manhattan. Divali Ramkalawan, a resident of the nearby Philip Johnson designed Urban Glass House, also expressed concerns regarding the potential health and safety risks associated with the refueling station’s underground fuel tanks.

Anthony Borelli, Land Use Director for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, stated that while Stringer believes the location for the facility is appropriate, the consolidation of three District garages to the same location is not, as it would create a substantial increase in traffic and would “overwhelm the area.” Stringer recommended relocating District 5’s garage to a site closer to its Midtown service area, and advocated moving the salt shed away from Canal Street in order to create publicly accessible open space.

The Commission has until October 10, 2008 to vote on the proposal.

CPC: Hearing on Department of Sanitation Garage (C 080281 ZSM – height and bulk); (C 080279 PSM – site selection); (C 080280 PCM – acquisition) (August 27, 2008).

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