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CB 7 backs reopening of transfer station

Community Board 7 met Monday night to approve the resurrection of a marine transfer station - a loading zone where household trash is packed onto barges for shipping - at the end of 31st Avenue on the waterfront of College Point. The vote was 36-3 in favor of the site for the project.The city Department of Sanitation will rebuild a defunct transfer station that operated at that site until 1991, when it sent the city's last barge full of trash to Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. Since Fresh Kills closed in 2001, the city has relied on trucks instead of barges for garbage removal - a costlier, more environmentally harmful way of transporting waste and sanitation - CB 7 reps said Monday night."After Fresh Kills closed, there was no place to transfer the waste by barge, so the station closed," said Bob LoPinto, the CB 7 member who introduced the project to the board. "By reopening the marine transfer station, the city will save money."Without Fresh Kills, the city Sanitation Department has had to transport its waste to landfills in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, areas most easily reached by trucks.In the interest of sparing the environment the vehicular traffic and saving the city money, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a 20-year waste management initiative in October that involved the rebuilding of transfer stations in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.This is the first of four stations to appear before its respective community board and be approved. The two in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan planned for reopening will be introduced at community meetings within the week. Bloomberg's plan also has to be approved by the City Council.The city will spend $85 million rebuilding the marine transfer station on the waterfront. The facility will accommodate more than 200 trucks per day, six days a week, with about 36 trucks accessing the building each hour.Trucks will transport household waste to the new transfer station from curbside pickups. At the building, the waste will be packaged into containers that will be taken by barge from the city to landfills that the Sanitation Department did not specify at Monday night's meeting.The Sanitation Department said the building will contain deodorizing chemicals that will neutralize the scent of the garbage."I can't emphasize how significantly different this is from what you used to have," said Walter Czwartacky, the Sanitation Department's director of special projects. A few board members shook their heads at the prospect of more trucks on the congested, narrow streets of College Point already used for industrial traffic for the corporate park on the outskirts of the neighborhood."How can you maintain there's not going to be a traffic impact if the average is going to be 200 trucks going down four routes (per day)?" asked board member Nick Miglino, who lives on 20th Avenue.Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said it is not the agency's intention to make the streets more crowded at peak hours."We're going to make every effort to have our trucks working on non-peak hours," Doherty said, emphasizing that increased congestion would give his trucks longer shifts. "From a management perspective, we don't want our trucks running on peak hours."One woman stood up to speak during the public comment, and - uncharacteristic of a speaker addressing a development project -she came to compliment the city.Gertrudes Gonesh worked with the Sanitation Department to close a plant in Springfield Gardens after a three-year fight."Out of all the agencies in New York City, (Doherty) has one with the best enforcement," Gonesh said. "I know this because I had to deal with them for years, the police didn't help, nobody helped." Then a Sanitation worker named Bryant Small came to her rescue."I even call him 'my son.' He is a good enforcement person with the trucks," she said. "Commissioner Doherty," she joked, "You can pay me outside."Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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