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Maspeth protests trash train plan

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Instead of an influx of green steel containers, Maspeth residents and elected officials are calling for more green space. At a rally at the Clinton Diner Saturday, some 25 people condemned Waste Management’s plan to expand its waste transfer station in Long Island City, a move that would send roughly 55 trucks a day into Maspeth to load garbage containers onto rail cars.

They also want to see the former St. Saviour’s site transformed into a park.

“I think there must be a better way to dispose of garbage in Queens,” said activist Christina Wilkinson. “The heavy truck traffic will already add to the pollution that plagues our community.”

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) called for the city to buy the St. Saviour’s property and criticized Waste Management.

“It doesn’t make sense the way the plan is put together,” she said. “You have rail lines and you have access to Newtown Creek — intermodal ways of using transportation to move garbage without having to put anything on trucks.”

Crowley also criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesday after the mayor said at a news conference that he supported efforts to revive the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel that would bring trains from Newark to Maspeth to unload cargo onto trucks.

“If the Mayor and the Port Authority are going to take a serious look at this proposal they have to come up with a plan to share the burden with Brooklyn, Long Island and the other destinations for cross harbor freight,” she said in a statement.

Waste Management spokeswoman Rachel Amar said the company has met with Community Board 5 and other stakeholders several times to discuss the transfer station.

“We are committed to continuing this dialogue with the community and to working with the city to address the issues that have been raised,” she said.

Evelyn Cruz, a staffer for U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood), called the waste station plan “a fight that we must win.”

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) is calling for an analysis of dredging Newtown Creek and for studying the establishment of a solid waste transfer station at the Phelps Dodge site instead.

Paul Graziano, vice president of the Historic Preservation Council, slammed Bloomberg for failing to acquire the St. Saviour’s property for parkland when it was on the market. A developer’s plans to build housing at the site have stalled.

“If the developer who owns this property doesn’t play fair, the city could actually use eminent domain proceedings for the correct purpose — for a public benefit — as opposed to taking property and handing it over to other developers for private gain,” Graziano wrote.

Christina Santucci contributed to this article.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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