In southern Brooklyn, a nearly 40-year wait for trash upgrades
For nearly four decades, a swath of southern Brooklyn has been waiting for a new sanitation garage — and there is no end to that wait in sight.
Members of Community Board 13, which spans Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Seagate, voted in September to put the garage back on its list of priorities. Eddie Mark, district manager, told the Eagle that his board has been fighting for the garage since the early 1980s. Its members plucked the garage from the priority list two years ago, after being told by the borough president that one was on its way.
A newer iteration of the plan — but one that still dates back more than 20 years — would serve both CB13 and neighboring Community Board 15. As another calendar year comes to a close, Mark says the groups aren’t backing down from the fight.
“New houses were built back in 1983 whose backyards faced [the district’s current] sanitation garage,” the district manager explained, “so, needless to say, those residents had to endure all of this smell, and they couldn’t really go into their backyards at all. And it’s not like they could sell — nobody’s going to buy a house when they know there’s a sanitation garage back then.”
“They were promised back then that [the city] would build another,” Mark went on, “but when it came down to the actual agreement, there were constant hiccups. Something was always happening.”
Leaders of CB15, which covers Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach, have also prioritized trash as a district need. Board Chairperson Theresa Scavo told members at an October meeting that the issue was among the board’s top three budget priorities for the year ahead. “CB15’s garage runs out of trailers — makeshift trailers — on Knapp Street, which makes it very difficult for the sanitation workers to have access,” she said. “The garage is definitely needed, but is not on the city’s radar.”
“It’s not right for them to live and work like that,” Mark said of CB15’s sanitation crews. “While they’re in the same boat as we are, for them, it’s an injustice.”
The plans for a joint garage dates back to 1996, Mark said, when CB13 voted to approve a plan to share, so long as it meant a new one was coming. “But now that they’re saying no to it, that means that it’s negatively impacting two boards,” he said.
The most recent proposal was to bring the new garage to the nearly 17-acre National Grid site near the Coney Island Creek, Scavo told the Eagle, but both boards were notified last year that it had fallen through.
Mark said the most recent funding was supposed to be coming from Borough President Eric Adams’ capital plan. A spokesperson for the borough president confirmed that though Adams “has been supportive of the sanitation garage … [u]nfortunately, the funding wasn’t included in the most recent [city] budget.”
When contacted for comment, the New York City Department of Sanitation provided the Eagle with an explanation of its services. “The Department of Sanitation provides services waste collection, recycling, street cleaning and snow clearing services to New Yorkers,” a spokesperson said. “Safe and adequate facilities for our employees and equipment are critical to providing these services.”
The representative said that a new facility to serve the boards is not currently being funded.
“We just want to know, where did the money go?” Mark said. “And if there’s no plan, how is the city going to push for it? Where do we go from here?”
Clarification (12:55 p.m.): The quote from the borough president’s spokesperson has been amended with a clarification to specify that funding wasn’t included in the city budget,
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