Nov. 18, 2020 By Christian Murray
The plan to relocate the sanitation garage on 21st Street to an industrial area in Astoria took a step further Monday when a Council subcommittee approved it sending the plan to the full council for a vote.
The City plans to move the dilapidated sanitation garage at 24-28 21st St. to a 10-acre industrial site by Luyster Creek in Astoria. As part of the plan, the city has pledged not to sell the 21st Street sanitation site to private developers and says it will use the land to build 100 percent affordable housing.
The Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions approved the plan by a 5-0 vote Monday, forwarding the plan for a vote in the city council that is sure to be passed within the next month.
Residents of Ravenswood and Queensbridge have complained for years about pollution emanating from the 21st Street facility and the smelly garbage trucks that idle nearby. The trucks, residents say, also leave oil spills and garbage on the roadway.
“The Ravenswood community fought long and hard for justice and won a hard earned commitment from the mayor in 2017 to fund a new garage that is not directly next to thousands of public housing residents,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer in a statement.
The Mayor at the town hall meeting in 2017 promised Van Bramer that he would allocate $130 million to remove the 90-year-old sanitation depot and find a new location.
The Dept. of Sanitation presented its plans to the community in February noting that the current facility is no longer big enough, is in poor structural condition and that its trucks are often forced to park on the sidewalk on 21st Street by 34th Avenue.
The plan involves the construction of a new garage and salt shed on a 9.8 acre site at 31-11 20th Avenue that will enable DSNY to continue serving north west Queens. The salt shed will replace the salt facility on the waterfront at 43rd Avenue and Vernon Boulevard.
The new garage will be a 19,775 square foot facility and the salt shed about 20,000 square feet. The new facility is in the 22nd Council District represented by Costa Constantinides.
Van Bramer applauded Constantinides for working with him on the details of finding a new location.
“The agreement we’ve made delivers major wins for the western Queens community,” Constantinides said in a statement. “This will improve traffic safety along 21st Street, clean the area for Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses, and create truly affordable housing.”
The City has agreed to make several improvements as part of the relocation. The first is a guarantee that the existing site be kept as public land and is not sold to private developers. Any development would include 100 percent affordable housing and space for community use.
The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development will be in charge of developing the 21st Street site and the process will begin this spring. The agency says it will work with community groups including the Western Queens Community Land Trust and the Ravenswood Tenants Association as it puts together a plan.
The DSNY has also pledged to take steps toward cleaning up Luyster Creek, a polluted waterway adjacent to the proposed facility. This involves replacing invasive plant species and fortifying the shorefront to combat erosion.
The city also plans to increase traffic safety on 21st Street, which runs from northern Astoria to the Queensboro Bridge. The DOT has agreed to launch a community outreach program as part of a plan to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists—as well as buses– to traverse the 4-lane thoroughfare.
“This is a great day for Ravenswood,” Van Bramer said. “I am glad to have accomplished a decades long goal of my constituents in Ravenswood—to move the existing polluting garage off its current site and to replace it with a use that the community wants to see.”