Speaking before a packed room with over 300 energized Bensonhurst residents in attendance inside the Shore Parkway Jewish Center, located by 26th Avenue and Cropsey Avenue, Assemblymember William Colton (D-Brooklyn) demanded that action be taken by New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller to reject the entire Solid Waste Management Plan and to immediately create a commission made up of solid waste experts to formulate an alternative plan that is based more upon reducing, reusing, and recycling the city’s waste.
"The city must understand that this great Bensonhurst community is alive and well and will not lay down and die at the hands of irresponsible city policy," shouted Colton to a thunderous applause at last Thursday evening’s community town hall meeting. "We call on Speaker Miller to reject the flawed solid waste plan and to quickly set up a Solid Waste Management Commission to sift through all other alternatives in order to come up with a more workable plan that focuses more on effectively reducing the city’s waste," Colton added.
The legislator’s Waste Transfer Station task force, co-chaired by community leaders, Jeanette Givant and Charles Ragusa, co-sponsored the town hall gathering. "We’ve already collected thousands of signatures on petitions to urge the City Council to vote down this irresponsible solid waste plan and we will get thousands more," said a determined Jeanette Givant. "We’ve done our homework, we know who has the power to stop this plan, and it is time for the Bensonhurst community to put the onus on Speaker Miller to stick up for us by rallying his colleagues in the City Council to reject the entire plan," added Charles Ragusa.
The task force has also initiated a community-wide "Call Speaker Miller" campaign asking Bensonhurst residents to call Speaker Miller at his Manhattan office, (212) 535-5554, urging him to dump the proposed plan, which involves the construction of a Waste Transfer Station at the old Southwest Brooklyn incinerator site. "He needs to get the point that there is a mobile and conscious community prepared to battle at any given moment when it comes to it’s quality of life," stated co-chair Givant.
As for an alternative plan, it is through the creation of a New York City Solid Waste Management Commission, that the Assemblymember believes solutions to New York’s major solid waste problems could be found. "We need to bring experts, environmental groups, civic groups, and all interested parties to the table and come up with a more workable plan that primarily emphasizes reducing the city’s waste," asserted Colton. "It even costs less money to recycle the waste rather than to containerize and ship it out to unspecified destinations," charged the lawmaker.
For months, Colton, along with his task force, have pushed for a new Solid Waste Management Plan and have vehemently opposed the construction of the Southwest Brooklyn Waste Transfer Station. Colton and the task force have been highly critical of the environmental impact study conducted by the city concerning the proposed waste facility. The study makes no mention of what lies ahead for all the recreational, educational, and residential facilities adjacent to the proposed site. In addition, the state lawmaker time and again reiterates his concerns for what consequences are in store for Southern Brooklyn’s water and the wildlife dependent upon clean water due to the dredging that will be needed to move waste-carrying barges along the water.
The task force is still conducting a petition drive and its "Call Speaker Miller" campaign to continue to raise awareness. Talks have emerged of other possible actions, including a massive demonstration to highlight the magnitude of mobility and consciousness around this issue in the greater Bensonhurst community.