The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

unseen things

leave a comment »

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Breaking from our ongoing narrative for a moment, to discuss the tyranny of the now, and the corpus mundi of the eternal sea.

When word filtered over to me on Friday the 4th that New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer was gathering a group of his fellow Queens representatives at the corner of 49th street and Galasso Place, alongside Maspeth Creek- a tributary of the maligned Newtown Creek- a veritable beeline was made by your humble narrator to try and get to this event.

Hey, if WPIX and Fox are coming to my turf… my beat… I’m going to be there too. These are the Creeklands, and this is the heart of your Newtown Pentacle.

(in the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Van Bramer represents my district in Astoria. I’ve found him to be a fair and responsive representative, as well as quite approachable. I voted for him, and most likely will again. In the language of the neighborhood- “he’s alright”)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The issue which drew the attentions of area wags and the elected officials was the sudden announcement by the commissioners of the City’s Executive Branch to relocate an MTA facility from its current home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Maspeth in Queens.

Pictured above is the site in question, which is part of a brownfield parcel we’ve described in the past that bears the rather ominous name – “The Maspeth Project”. Check out this posting from 2009 that describes the area in some detail.

Greenpoint, like Maspeth, carries far more of the municipal burden than many other communities and the current home of the MTA Access-A-Ride fleet located on Commercial Street is destined to become a waterfront park.

Maspeth, however, also needs more parks- and it certainly doesn’t need any more truck traffic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Area wags describe the decision to move the MTA facility to Maspeth as having been conducted in the dead of night, and normal processes (Environmental Impact Studies, Community Board involvement and the like) governing such a move have been overlooked or ignored. Accordingly, Mr. Van Bramer and Ms. Crowley are rather put out about the whole matter- hence this gathering in Maspeth on 49th avenue. Text accompanying the following shots is quotidian in nature, and emanates from Mr. Van Bramer’s official statement. Video of the event is available at the Council Member’s site.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“On Friday, March 4th Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Assemblywoman Marge Markey united with local elected officials and concerned residents to speak out against the city and MTA’s proposed Bus Depot site in Maspeth. The proposed site on 49th Street and Galasso Place would be the third MTA depot in an area that is already saturated with commercial traffic. The rush job in selecting Maspeth as a potential site has raised concerns about the secretive process that gave no notice to the community or to local elected officials.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The selection process by the city and the MTA for potential locations fails to include notice to local elected officials and community members – a key element for any development decision that greatly impacts the quality of life in the area.

(hey, that’s Maspeth’s own Tony Nunziato in the background!)

“Maspeth cannot and will not be a dumping ground for MTA Depots,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “The attempt by the city and the MTA to consider this location without taking into consideration the environmental impact to the area or the community’s input is troubling. There are five other boroughs and the MTA and the city need to dump this depot somewhere else. Maspeth needs more green space – not additional traffic and pollution.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Maspeth residents have been burdened with the City’s truck traffic for over a decade—we need to be greening these streets, not polluting them,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “As the community looks forward to finally implementing the Maspeth Bypass Plan that will reduce truck traffic on our local streets, the MTA’s plan for a Maspeth Bus Depot will sets us back to ground zero.  I stand with my colleagues in government and the residents of Maspeth when I tell the MTA to do right by Queens and keep the Bus Depot out of Maspeth.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Maspeth is already doing its share for the MTA as the home of two transit facilities,” said Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. “This third depot does not belong here. Just as we are seeing progress in our decade-long fight to reduce the commercial traffic that clogs the streets and pollutes the air in Maspeth, this project is a set-back that we cannot accept. Less congestion, safer streets and better air quality is what we need, not a third MTA transit depot.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Members of the Maspeth community including Roe Daraio, president of COMET, also spoke.

“Apparently the MTA doesn’t think it is bad enough that Maspeth residents already have to deal with a barrage of truck traffic. If they did, they wouldn’t be discussing the possibility of relocating a bus depot into the community – a move that would bring even more pollution, noise and disruption to Maspeth,” said Rep. Crowley. “Maspeth residents have been plagued by excessive traffic for far too long, and it is time for that to end. I urge the City to reconsider the plans to transplant the bus depot to Maspeth and to take into account both the concerns of the community and the impact on the environment. Maspeth residents must not only be heard, but listened to.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gary Giordano from the local Community Board also said a few words, and a group of absent elected officials sent these statements to be entered into the record.

“I am concerned with the plan to relocate the MTA bus depot to Maspeth,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “The lack of notification and community input is alarming.”
“What Maspeth needs is more green space, not another bus depot,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “When it comes to traffic, Maspeth is already receiving more than its fair share. And, when it comes to the number of MTA depots in one community, Maspeth already has two.”

“The MTA is outrageously favoring one neighborhood over another without the courtesy of even notifying the affected community,” stated State Senator Michael Gianaris.

“Maspeth already has two other bus depots and a plethora of truck traffic on its local streets. It is time to stop dumping on Maspeth and give the residents of Queens the respect we deserve.”

“I strongly oppose burdening Maspeth with a third bus depot,” said Assembly Member Michael Miller. “The local residents should not be forced to cope with the additional environmental strain. Maspeth’s transit infrastructure is already overstressed. Also, there is no reason to reach this decision in secrecy, with no public input. This is unhealthy, unsafe, and unfair.”

Although no final decision has been made by the MTA and the city as to where the bus depot will be placed, it is clear that elected officials and Maspeth residents will fight to protect their community.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seemingly orchestrated to demonstrate their point about the incredible volume of trucks which move through their neighborhood, the Press Conference was continually interrupted by incredibly loud traffic noise. This made the questions from the press difficult to understand for those at the podium, and really hammered home the point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

WPIX’s Greg Mocker is in the foreground in this shot. Our friends at Queenscrap recently featured a post with Mr. Mocker’s personal brand of reportage on the issue, which can be accessed here.

Mr. Van Bramer also mentioned that the proposal for a park at the St. Saviors site was languishing, whilst the Greenpoint park was greenlit and made a reality almost overnight. Once again, it seems, Queens will get the short end of the stick.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A decent representation of local papers and TV reporters showed up, including the ever present NY1, Fox, WPIX.

This was probably the largest group I’ve ever seen gathered around this part of the Creeklands, with the exception of some of the walking and bus tours I helped to conduct last year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not discussed, of course, was the fact that the City was planning on siting it’s Access A Ride vehicles- which are utilized by those infirm, ill, or otherwise disabled at a yard directly opposite Maspeth Creek and sitting quite nearly on top of one of the largest CSO’s (Combined Sewer Outfall NC-077, Maspeth Creek, discharges 288.7M gallons per year into English Kills, Ranked 25 out of over 400 in terms of volume) in the City of New York.

(for another view of 49th street- from the CSO POV, click here)

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: