East Siders trash garbage trucks parking ‘plan’

Residents and merchants on E. 10th St. between First and Second Aves. are not happy about the block being used to park Department of Sanitation trucks while the city searches for a new garage. Photos by Avi Burn

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | Councilmember Carlina Rivera is outraged after the Department of Sanitation relocated some 21 of its trucks to three East Side residential streets — including two in her district.

In a letter to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia on Monday, Rivera stated, “I am writing to express my disappointment in your decision to park sanitation vehicles along residential side streets in the East Village and Kips Bay neighborhoods of my district. I find the lack of proper notice to residents, small businesses or community boards affected careless.”

Rivera demanded that the department “immediately move their vehicles to locations that do not place an undue burden on our vulnerable constituents and mom-and-pop stores and should engage in a meaningful dialogue with these communities.”

The big stink started earlier this month, when the department’s garage lease at 606 W. 30th St. between 11th and 12th Aves. ran out.

That Hudson Yards block is now being developed by Douglaston Development and Lalezarian Properties after the City Council in June approved the Hudson River Park Trust selling air rights to the development, which will include 1,200 apartments, around 25 percent of them affordable, as Curbed reported.

But the garage lease’s expiration has left Sanitation scrambling to find a new spot for the displaced trucks, which service Community Board 6, which covers most of the East Side between 14th and 59th Sts.

Since then, the department has been parking trucks in Rivera’s district on E. 10th St. between First and Second Aves. and Mt. Carmel Place at E. 26th St., as well as on York Ave. between E. 59th and E. 60th Sts. in Councilmember Ben Kallos’s District 5.

Kallos’s office has so far not received any complaints about the trucks, according to a spokesperson. But in the East Village, Community Board 3 and Rivera have received dozens of complaints.

“I have never had so many complaints on any one issue in the 14 years I have been district manager,” said Susan Stetzer, Board 3’s district manager. “I am hearing that a small eating/drinking business is going out of business. I am hearing it is very stinky.”

The community board and Rivera’s office have received complaints about smells, noise, negative impacts on small business, and accessibility to Access-a-Ride for seniors and people with disabilities when garbage trucks block direct access to the streets.

“It’s only going to get worse the longer the vehicles are parked there,” Rivera said. “This is a big quality-of-life issue, and we just find it unacceptable.”

For Pinks — a four-year-old East Village bar —business has already plummeted.

On Sat., Sept. 15, the bar’s sales dropped by 50 percent on a night they expected them to be at the highest since it was after Labor Day and the beginning of peak season for pubs, the owners said.

The trucks “are extremely loud,” said Avi Burn, one of the place’s co-owners. “There’s potential for disease and rodents 10 feet away from where people are living and eating.

“It’s just a giant, ridiculous nuisance,” Burn complained, adding that even Sanitation workers are unhappy being displaced and having neighbors and reporters badgering them.

The noise, smells and space the trucks take up have impacted the business, and Burn and his co-owner Alex Sassaris fear they won’t last to January if the trucks keep parking outside the bar.

“This can’t be a several-month thing,” said Burn. Around 20 employees would lose their jobs if Pinks shutters.

But the Sanitation Department says that this is the only option until another garage location is secured.

“In short, we’ve been working for years to find garage space, which is the only solution,” said Belinda Mager, the department’s spokesperson. “This is the option of last resort, and what’s needed to be able to provide essential services to the district.”

When the garbage trucks are out on their rounds, the Department of Sanitation — to locals’ chagrin — holds their parking spots on E. 10th St. with orange cones.

These three locations were chosen because they are near department facilities were there are offices, toilets, lockers and communications equipment, Mager said.

She added that Commissioner Garcia informed councilmembers back in January of the need for parking, and official notification was sent to Rivera, Kallos, Councilmember Keith Powers, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Community Boards 3, 6 and 8 on Aug. 21.

Stetzer, however, said the board was not properly informed.

At a C.B. 3 Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Committee meeting on Sept. 13, the department didn’t have information on either the number of trucks or exactly where they would be located.

Stetzer added that when the board was notified of the department’s item on the meeting’s agenda, the understanding was that trucks would be parked somewhere near Pier 36, at South and Montgommery Sts., where there is already a Sanitation garage, and at 155-157 First Ave., near E. 10th St.

Four District 6 garbage trucks parked on Mt. Carmel Place, at E. 26th St. between Second and First Aves., near Bellevue Hospital. Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Small businesses often rely on visibility of their storefronts to get passersby to stop in.

“People cannot see our local business,” said Pallob Sarker, a manager at United Copy & Print on E. 10th St., which has been there for seven years. Plus, he added, when the trucks park and idle, it creates a lot of noise.

Next door, an employee at Snowdays ice cream shop said several people have grumbled about the situation.

“I do hear a lot of people complaining about it,” said Annie Wang, a part-time employee and Baruch College student. “Definitely — people aren’t happy about this.”

A representative from Midboro Management, which manages The New Theatre Building condo at 240 E. 10th St., even dropped off a memo at Snowdays asking neighbors to call 311, Board 3 and submit a complaint to Sanitation.

“It’s not really appealing to look at,” Wang added.

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