Council Member Antonio Reynoso just sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Sanitation, asking to have El Garden and the other seventeen active community gardens on the Housing Preservation and Development Request for Qualifications list inviting developers to propose to build housing on these same sites removed from the list.
Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York, NY 10007
Commissioner Kathryn Garcia
NYC Department of Sanitation
59 Maiden Lane, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Dear Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Garcia,
I am writing to express my concern over a number of the sites listed in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s most recent RFQ for the New Infill Home OwnershipOpportunities Program (NIHOP) and Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP). A number of these sites are active public gardens, which provide significant benefits to surrounding communities and city-wide organics collection efforts. I am a strong proponent for the construction of affordable housing, as my district has experienced some of the most severe impacts from the City’s housing crisis; however, I am also an advocate for comprehensive planning. Additionally, as Chair of the Sanitation Committee, I am concerned about the impact that development of these sites may have on active composting operations, depleting the City’s already limited capacity to process organic waste.
As we continue to strive toward improved diversion rates, we must protect and support facilities that provide processing capacity for organic waste, particularly at the local level. This is especially important as we near the July, 2015 implementation date for Intro 1162, which would require commercial businesses to begin source separating organics. This law will only go into effect if the Commissioner determines that there is sufficient capacity to process this waste in facilities located within 100 miles of the city. Currently, the capacity for processing organic waste is insufficient for this bill to be meaningfully implemented. However, this does not mean that we should cease our search for creative ways to increase this capacity and process waste at the local level.
The lot at 120 Jefferson Street in Bushwick in my district, listed on HPD’s RFQ list, is currently operating under the name “El Garden” and is home to BK Rot’s composting initiative. BK Rot is a local organization that has been processing local organic waste in Bushwick since the summer of 2013, employing local youth and diverting waste from landfills. Additionally, this garden provides essential open space in a community that has long suffered from a lack of quality green areas. Losing a site such as El Garden would eliminate open space and jobs, while decreasing the local capacity for processing organic waste.
I urge you to direct HPD to remove this site, as well all other active community gardens, from its most recent list of developable sites. HPD has hundreds of potential sites on which it can develop affordable housing. I am asking that sites that are truly lying fallow be prioritized over those with active uses. I believe this action is in the best interest of DSNY and the Mayor’s Office, as it willprotect capacity for local composting and ensure stability of open space. I will be happy to speak with you further about how we can work together to preserve these community resources.
NYC Council Member 34th District
Chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management