Check out this video of New York City Council Member Benjamin Kallos coolly picking apart an element of Bloomberg's old trash plan that has gone out of control.
The collection and disposal of trash in New York City, but particularly in Manhattan, is achieved through a mixture of poorly regulated private trash vehicles and relatively well-maintained and environmentally sound government ones. Recycling rates are embarrassingly low, 15 percent compared to up to 75 percent in other cities.
One of the alleged attempts to improve the situation is the construction of a massive (2 acre, ten story high) marine transfer station on the upper reaches of the East River just south of East Harlem. The trash plan itself is already archaic. This particular part of it is a disaster. It is already five times more expensive than intended, only in part because it's now in a location designated as the worst kind of flood zone.
For reasons that no one quite understands, de Blasio has not yet sent it the way of stop and frisk, although he or the next mayor will eventually have to.
Along with black activist Bertha Lewis, Senator Liz Krueger, Borough President Gale Brewer, thousands of residents of public housing (in front of which this is being built), and a growing coalition of organizations such as Pledge2Protect, Council Member Kallos is trying to stop this weird boondoggle before it costs the city even more than it has already.
Clashing with outgoing trash czar, John Doherty, Kallos lists the economic (and human and environmental) reasons why the marine transfer station does not make sense. Watch as he gets Doherty to admit it's getting more expensive every year to build and, even worse, will make trash disposal way more expensive for the next 20 years -- and then in effect say: But so what?
Kallos calmly points out there is only so much in the budget and the city requires money for other critical things, like homelessness, education, and foster care. Kallos is a brand new Council Member, but if he can stay this calm and lucid as he exposes the mistakes of the last administration, he should play a much bigger part in the next one.
There is one economic cost, however, that Kallos does not mention.
Thousands of garbage trucks a year will pass through the most densely residential neighborhood in Manhattan (residential except for a very large number of schools), then enter the garbage site via a road that bisects an athletic facility used by 34,000 city kids a year from every borough except Staten Island.
Mayor de Blasio has talked passionately about reducing pedestrian deaths in New York, but his Vision Zero plan to reduce pedestrian deaths will die on 91st and York along with several children. It is absolutely inevitable that children will get killed here, and even the most cynical New Yorkers will not tolerate child fatalities when the excuse for them is so political and hollow. This garbage site made sense for Bloomberg, politically, but makes none for de Blasio and none for the city.
It is not worth the risk of a broken toe, never mind the life of a child.
Legal action will be taken in the wake of funerals, the public will be moved, voters will vote, and, too late for the families of those killed, another economic cost will be added to those already enumerated by Council Member Kallos: the cost of tearing the marine transfer station down.
If you're a member of the public, but particularly if you are one of the 30,000 + mothers of kids who play here, check out the Pledge2Protect site to see what you can do. There are, I believe, protests today, Monday, and on Wednesday.
Mayor de Blasio has just appointed a new sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia. As a mother of two children, Ms. Garcia, I would urge you to go to 91st and York and visualize a minimum of 130 truck drive-bys a day six days a week passing over the same 20 feet of sidewalk that children must cross to get from the athletic field to the building where they change.
This is over 3,000 drive-bys a month, over 37,000 truck drive-bys a year, and most of them at a time when the kids play on the field and cross back and forth.
Really, for your own sake, go there and look, but when you get there use your imagination because there is one more cost that no one talks about: the cost to you of having to live with the avoidable deaths of children on your conscience.