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Mayoral Issue Grid: Environment

by Gotham Gazette Staff, Aug 18, 2005

Mayoral Issue Grid

-Mayor's Waste Plan?
-Bronx Water Filtration

Garbage is a critical issue for New York City. Since the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill in 2001, the city has paid high prices to ship its waste out of state. And 80 percent of the waste is currently handled by waste transfer stations in four, low-income neighborhoods

In October 2004, the Bloomberg administration issued a new solid waste plan, which would move most of the 50,000 tons of trash the city produces each day by rail or barge, instead of by truck. To do this, the city proposes reopening four marine transfer stations, piers where trucks can dump trash onto barges, to handle the city's residential waste. Critics say the plan does not address many issues like commercial waste or recycling. And it does not solve the problem of where the garbage ends up and how much the city must pay other states to dispose of it.

Safe, clean drinking water is also a critical issue for New York City and a state court ruled that the city must filter water that comes from the Croton Reservior. A water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx was first proposed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the late 1990's and generated heated political debate. Some environmentalists argued that the water does not need to be filtered; parks advocates said it should not be built in limited green space; and residents of the north Bronx fear years of construction, noise, and dust. The plan was abandoned in 2001 because it lacked support of elected officials.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg revived the plan by offering two concessions. The city committed $240 million for building and improving parkland in the Bronx and the city's Department of Environmental Protection agreed to do an environmental impact study.

Fernando Ferrer

At a 1999 hearing on the filtration plant, Ferrer, then the Bronx borough president said, "I'm here to personally convey that the Bronx is unanimous in its unequivocal opposition to the Croton water filtration plant." This, though, was before the Bronx was promised the money for parks - and Ferrer has not been on record as being so unequivocal this year.

C. Virginia Fields

C. Virginia Fields supports the solid waste management plan, but she wants to improve the waste reduction, reuse, and recycling aspects of the plan.

Fields says she opposes the water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park, but at a recent forum, she said she would not stop it. "In all fairness and candor, unless you have a different way of approaching it, I don't think as mayor I could stop it as it has been started and I recognize everything that went into ultimately making that decision," she said.

A. Gifford Miller

Gifford Miller says he supports many of the principles in the solid waste management plan, but as head of the City Council is working to improve the plan to focus on increased recycling, waste reduction and long-term solutions to solid waste problems. He also opposed the creation of a marine transfer station on East 91st Street in his district.

Miller voted in favor of the filtration plant in the City Council, calling it the best option for bringing clean water to the whole city.

Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner supports the principles of the solid waste management plan, but says that he will make reducing waste the top priority.

In a questionnaire for the New York League of Conservation Voters, he wrote: “As mayor, I would develop incentives for New Yorkers to reduce the garbage they generate – providing a property tax deduction for businesses and households that demonstrate significant reductions. Conscientious New Yorkers should get a signal of support from the city, rather than having to pay for the waste of their neighbors.”

Weiner opposes the filtration plant in the Bronx and has criticized Mayor Bloomberg and Gifford Miller for approving it.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg proposed the solid waste management plan that uses marine transfer stations rather than trucks.

Bloomberg was responsible for reviving the filtration plant project in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. He won the support of many local officials by offering $240 million for building and improving parkland in the Bronx.

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