Maspeth is not going to accept another depot — at least not without a fight.
That was the message delivered last Friday from civic leaders and elected officials to City Hall, after it was revealed that the Bloomberg administration is considering relocating a Metropolitan Transportation Authority vehicle depot from Brooklyn to a city-owned lot on 49th Street between 56th Road and Galasso Place. The existing facility in Greenpoint is set to become a park.
The proposed Maspeth depot would house approximately 150 Access-A-Ride cars and buses. The MTA has a bus facility on Grand Avenue and an Access-A-Ride garage on Maurice Avenue.
“It’s wrong on the merits, and it’s deadly wrong on the process,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “The entire community was shut out intentionally.”
Van Bramer indicated a “deal was about to be sealed” until phone calls and letters signed by area pols — Van Bramer, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood), state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria), state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens and Bronx) — halted proceedings, citing the city’s failure to include in the selection process any notice to officials and the community.
“Because they cut a deal in Brooklyn, they have attempted in the dark of night to trick this community and shove this depot down the throat of the people of Maspeth,” Van Bramer said.
“The MTA is outrageously favoring one neighborhood over another without the courtesy of even notifying the affected community,” Gianaris asserted.
The agency referred inquiries to the mayor’s office. City Hall spokesman Andrew Brent told the Chronicle, “The city is working with the MTA to relocate the Access-A-Ride depot. One of the sites being looked at is in Maspeth, but nothing is final and there are no plans to move it yet.”
Friday’s press conference came on the heels of the city Department of Transportation’s presentation of the Maspeth Bypass plan that would limit truck traffic on Grand and Flushing avenues.
Elizabeth Crowley said another facility would further burden a community which she and others have noted is already inundated with trucks.
“Our kids have some of the highest asthma rates [in the city],” Crowley related. “Enough is enough. Maspeth is not a doormat.”
Van Bramer said the issue is not with another borough getting a park.
“[But] don’t fulfill your obligation to Brooklyn at the expense of the people of Queens,” he admonished Bloomberg.
Roe Daraio, president of the civic group COMET, Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, said Maspeth’s unique proximity to the Brooklyn-Queens and Long Island expressways and Queens Boulevard makes it vulnerable to pollution and the health-related risks that come with it.
“It’s time to green our community, instead of polluting it,” she asserted.
Echoing Daraio’s sentiment, Van Bramer raised the unsettled future of the nearby St. Saviour’s site, an expansive empty lot with historical significance on which the community has been trying for years to have a park installed.
“I wish they acted with the speed and commitment to St. Saviour’s as they did on this,” Van Bramer remarked.
Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said he’s “confident that an MTA facility will not be here.”
“Maspeth has generally too much pressure from trucks,” he added.