Sanitation facility approved for SoHo’s Washington St.

500 Washington Street, SoHo, Manhattan

Council approved despite community concerns over traffic, environmental impact, and aesthetics. On November 19, 2008, the City Council approved a plan by the Dept. of Sanitation to build a five-story service and maintenance garage, a 34,000 gallon refueling station, and a 75ft. tall salt shed at 500 Washington Street in SoHo, Manhattan. The garage and salt shed would serve Community Districts 1, 2, and 5. 5 CityLand 137 (Oct. 15, 2008).

The plan met with strong opposition from community residents and representatives at its City Planning hearing. Community Boards 1 and 2, as well as Borough President Scott Stringer, supported service for CD1 and 2, but urged the Commission to eliminate CD5 service because the neighborhood could not absorb the additional environmental impact. They also called for elimination of employee parking, noting that it could be made available at Pier 40, and that the space could be used as reservoir space for Sanitation trucks in order to alleviate traffic congestion. Opponents were also concerned about environmental impacts of the salt shed.

The Commission, on October 7, 2008, voted to approve Sanitation’s plan, noting that there were similar facilities across the boroughs which served more than one community district, and that the proposed garage facility would be one of the smallest of the multi-operational facilities. The Commission found that moving CD5’s garage to SoHo was appropriate because it would provide “excellent access to District 5 via Route 9A” and that the alternate sites identified in Sanitation’s study could not match the operational and cost efficiency of the final proposal.

Addressing calls to eliminate employee parking at the facility, the Commission believed it was appropriate to use the mezzanine level of the garage for employee parking, stating that the mezzanine had not been designed as a reservoir space for collection trucks, and as such, could not support their weight.

When the matter reached the Council’s Landmarks, Public Siting, & Maritime Uses Subcommittee, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who represents the district, testified that finding space for municipal facilities was particularly challenging in lower Manhattan and that any decision would be met with some level of opposition. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty claimed that it would cost the City an extra $90 million to build a separate CD5 garage. In response to questioning from Chair Jessica S. Lappin, Sanitation officials argued that the 74- space employee parking lot would be necessary during emergencies and snow storms.

When the Subcommittee reconvened on November 19th, Lappin announced that modifications were made to the original proposal, including a reduction in the number of employee parking spaces from 74 to 37, a restriction that only Sanitation vehicles would be allowed to use the refueling station, and a design change to the salt shed which would enclose the shed on all four sides. The Subcommittee and the Land Use Committee voted to approve, with only Council Member Charles Barron opposing. The full Council approved the project later that day.

ULURP Process
Lead Agency:DSNY, FEIS
Comm.Bd: MN 2,Den’d, 40-0-0
CPC: App’d, 11-1-0
Council: App’d, 40-1-11

Council: Department of Sanitation Garage (Nov. 19, 2008).

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