Council committee green lights new sanitation garage
by Benjamin Fang
Nov 24, 2020 | 528 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The new sanitation garage will be located at 19th Avenue and 37th Street in northern Astoria.
The new sanitation garage will be located at 19th Avenue and 37th Street in northern Astoria.
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A proposal by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to build a new garage and salt shed on the northern end of Astoria is one step closer to reality.

Last week, the City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions unanimously approved the plan, which will now head to the City Council for a final vote.

If approved, DSNY will not only build new facilities within the Astoria Industrial Business Zone, but also close down the current sanitation garage located across the street from the Ravenswood Houses, which residents have complained about for decades.

As part of the plan, the city has also agreed to clean up Luyster Creek, replace the old garage with 100 percent affordable housing and improve traffic safety on 21st Street, local elected officials announced.

“The agreement we’ve made delivers major wins for the western Queens community,” Councilman Costa Constantinides.

DSNY plans to construct a 94,000-square-foot sanitation garage and a 20,000-square-foot salt shed on a 9.8-acre site near 19th Avenue and 37th Street. The new garage will replace the current one at 34-28 21st Street, which was built in 1931 and is dilapidated and undersized.

During a facility assessment in 2014, city officials found the building “structurally deficient and inadequate in size.” It was so small that DSNY had to park its trucks outdoors on residential streets, causing noise and air pollution problems for Ravenswood Houses residents.

In July 2018, the department temporarily occupied one acre of land on 19th Avenue to store 23 garbage trucks, two service sedans and 12 personnel vehicles. Mayor Bill de Blasio committed $130 million to build a new sanitation garage a year earlier.

The salt shed, meanwhile, is currently located on a mapped but unbuilt section of 43rd Avenue and Vernon Boulevard near the East River waterfront. It employs eight salt spreaders, three “floor and dumps” and four haulsters. It stores up to 10,000 tons of salt.

Due to an upcoming bulkhead repair by Silvercup Studios, DSNY has to relocate the facility.

Community Board 1 approved the project, 31-1, when it was first presented in February. Members, however, asked the department to also clean Luyster Creek and provide public access to the waterfront.

At that time, DSNY officials said they would further explore the recommendation.

In March, Acting Borough President Sharon Lee also approved the proposal on the condition that DSNY provides new public access to the creek.

She also requested that when vacated, the current site of the sanitation garage on 21st Street should be redeveloped as affordable housing for seniors. That suggestion was also floated by community members at the Community Board 1 meeting.

In partnership with local elected officials, the city has agreed to replace invasive plant species in Luyster Creek with ones natural to the area. DSNY has also agreed to fortify the shorefront to fight off erosion.

The department will create a public walkway as long as 1,000 feet, and will use the space for school field trips and other educational initiatives.

At the subcommittee hearing, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) promised that any redevelopment of the 21st Street garage will be used for 100 percent affordable housing and other community uses.

HPD will begin a public input process in the spring, officials said, and work with community groups like the Western Queens Community Land Trust and the Ravenswood Tenants Association to create a neighborhood vision for the site.

Finally, the Department of Transportation (DOT) agreed to launch a community outreach program on the conditions along 21st Street, a high-traffic thoroughfare connecting Astoria with the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City.

“I am proud to have accomplished a decades-long goal of my constituents in Ravenswood to move the existing polluting garage off its current site and to replace it with a use that the community wants to see,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said in a statement. “This is a great day for Ravenswood.”
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