Why is the mayor building a trash station on the Upper East Side? Rich Democrat guilt
- Last Updated: 3:57 AM, July 29, 2012
- Posted: 11:04 PM, July 28, 2012
Residents of the Silk Stocking District on the Upper East Side vote like barefoot peasants. At every opportunity, they enthusiastically support whichever congressman, senator or president most persuasively promises to raise their own taxes.
They send far more tax money to Albany and Washington than they will ever get back in services, choose elected officials who lavish government employees with ever more generous compensation and throatily support class warfare against their class. You can hardly walk your dog without bumping into Champagne socialists like Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Caroline Kennedy, Barbara Walters or Eliot Spitzer.
So it’s amusing that the neighborhood Obamaites have discovered they don’t actually like spreading the misery as much as they like spreading the wealth. Residents are incensed that a garbage transfer station this week cleared what looks like its final regulatory hurdle and is scheduled to break ground by the end of this year at 91st Street and the East River — just a stretch limo’s distance from Mayor Bloomberg’s official residence Gracie Mansion.
The UES, which is normally busy hosting fundraisers to solve more interesting problems like global warming or third-world poverty, was caught off guard by news from its back yard. A massive garbage dump? Here?
Even now, the neighborhood’s solons can barely manage to discuss the matter without sounding like their primary concern is some underprivileged group.
“This facility will obviously harm marine life in the East River,” said City Council member Jessica Lappin in a prepared statement, as though the issue were the effects on all those dolphins and marlins frolicking in the water off the FDR Drive.
What no one wants to admit is that garbage belongs in places that are the opposite of the Upper East Side: poor, blighted areas. Saying that out loud is admitting the awful truth — that it is better to be wealthy than not.
Mayor Bloomberg in some ways typifies a new stage in liberal thinking, the opposite of a NIMBY. It’s the GWIMBY, Guilty and Welcoming in My Back Yard. Yet his thinking is an extension of all those UES Huffington Post readers who sent cupcakes and pizzas down to Occupy Wall Street, as though they had something in common with hipster rebels.
State Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who represents the area and is suing to stop the dump, believes Bloomberg first championed the idea of a garbage transfer point in Manhattan years ago because of political pressure from the left. To burnish his credentials as a crusader for environmental justice and prove he was down with the working class, the outer boroughs, and anyone who might happen to be a non-billionaire, Bloomberg said: Let’s put the refuse in my neighborhood!
Garbage has to go somewhere. But if you were to make a list of the most sensible places to put Manhattan’s garbage, the Upper East Side is pretty much at the bottom of the list.
The ramp to the dump, which is being built to handle up to 5,200 tons of trash a day, goes right over a children’s soccer field at the Asphalt Green park, notes Kellner. Two public schools are a block away.
“We’re not going to be able to breathe,” says Kellner, who lives a few blocks south. “I don’t know how kids are going to be able to cough and play soccer at the same time.
“We’re talking 500 to 700 trucks lining up each and every day, 24 hours a day,” Kellner adds, noting that the dump would be illegal on that site were there not an existing permit for a now-closed, much smaller plant on the same lot. That was approved some 60 years ago, when the neighborhood wasn’t residential and there was an asphalt factory on the site.
A sensible place for garbage is: where not many people live. And real estate is cheap. The new mega-dump will be installed in the third-most-densely populated ZIP code in the United States (Nos. 1 and 2 are also in the UES).
Moreover, it’s a myth that Manhattan is giving relief to some desolate area of The Bronx. The trash currently goes to New Jersey, where Tony Soprano types are happy to take it.
Processing it at home will cost more than twice as much — $238 a ton as opposed to today’s $90 a ton, says Kellner. That’s a guilt premium of 164 percent.
The city has argued that Manhattan, the only borough without a waste transfer point, must handle its own garbage.
Why? Manhattan produces a lot of criminals, too. Should we have a prison in Manhattan? Manhattanites eat a lot of steaks. Should we tear down Madonna’s townhouse and raise Holsteins there?
Kellner’s suit is due to come up in Manhattan’s State Supreme Court on Aug. 17. “This community is really galvanized around this issue,” he says. “I cannot leave my house without people asking me about it. The community does not want this.”
Mayor Bloomberg continues to back the project wholeheartedly. Says Kellner, “As with so many of the mayor’s projects, even when it’s shown to have failed, the mayor can’t be wrong.” Zing! Talk about trash talk.Follow @NYPostOpinion