Opponents of a new garbage-transfer station on the Upper East Side gathered Saturday afternoon hoping to thwart it.
The plan, supported by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the City Council, would rely more on trains and barges than on trucks to transfer the city’s garbage out of state.
The plant, proposed to replace an old transfer station at the same site, on the East River at 91st Street, has been bitterly opposed by community members because of its proximity to a residential neighborhood and a children’s playing field.
“It shouldn’t be in a residential neighborhood,” said Megan Gerst, 36, a parent who lives across the street from Asphalt Green, an athletic complex that is bifurcated by a ramp that leads from York Avenue across Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive to the transfer station. The new plant would use a ramp in the same location.
Ms. Gerst, who has lived in the area all her life, remembers when the old transfer station was in operation, more than 10 years ago.
“The neighborhood used to smell,” Ms. Gerst said . “All the garbage trucks would line up and idle along York Avenue.”
Baseball and soccer fields at Asphalt Green are used by Little League teams, members of the Yorkville Youth Athletic Association and students from Public School 151 nearby.
No date has been set for construction of the planned new station. Elected officials who oppose the plan question whether other sites in commercial areas were given enough consideration.
“We asked the mayor to look at a number of different spots around the city,” said City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who voted against the plan when the council approved it in 2006. “It’s my feeling that they did not consider all the options.”
City officials have defended the plan, which is supported by an environmental-impact statement that includes an analysis of site conditions, proximity to residential buildings and parks, traffic, air, noise and odors.
The city pointed out that the Department of Sanitation has operated the site as a marine transfer station for over 50 years and continues to hold a transfer station permit from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The new station “will allow us to deliver on the commitment we made to all New Yorkers to improve our solid waste management plan by making it more environmentally friendly, cost-effective, reliable, and fair to all five boroughs,” a spokeswoman for the mayor said in an e-mail.
But residents in the John Holmes Towers, a housing project at East 93rd Street and First Avenue, and the Isaacs Houses, another project nearby, are less understanding of those claims.
“It’s going to be unhealthy,” said one resident, Debbie Angelillo, 53. “The mayor doesn’t live here. He doesn’t have to worry about the smell.”
“It’s not rich people saying don’t put garbage in our back yards,” said Gabrielle Goldberg, 37, a mother of two who has lived on the Upper East Side for 15 years. “It’s families saying don’t put garbage and toxins near our children.”
A bill introduced in the State Assembly would prohibit waste transfer stations within 800 feet of public housing projects. A hearing on it is scheduled for Monday.
“We wanted to make sure the communities in these two complexes are protected,” the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Micah Kellner, said.
Opponents of the plant have gathered more than 8,000 signatures in a petition they intend to present to lawmakers.
On the other side of the debate is Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, which represents community-based organizations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.
“It is a totally justifiable site,” he said. “Manhattan has a responsibility to host infrastructure to handle waste. They have to handle their fair share, just like the rest of us.”