West Harlem waterfront trash site won’t go to waste

The 135th St. Marine Transfer Station could be redeveloped into a waterfront environmental center, a hydroponics and aquaculture center, a boathouse, a recreational facility or a trade show and exhibition space. West Harlem Environmental Action Inc. –Known as WE ACT will release a report detailing the station’s future.

A long-shuttered West Harlem garbage depot on the Hudson River could be as popular in its next incarnation as it was infamous in its pollution-stained past life.

The 135th St. Marine Transfer Station could be redeveloped into a waterfront environmental center, a hydroponics and aquaculture center, a boathouse, a recreational facility or a trade show and exhibition space.

The long-abandoned 135th Street Marine Transfer Station.

The long-abandoned 135th Street Marine Transfer Station.

Details are still being ironed out by community groups. West Harlem Environmental Action Inc. — known as WE ACT — plans to release a report next month detailing the future of the deteriorated, 20,000-square-foot facility, which served as Manhattan’s only round-the-clock garbage depot before it was shuttered in 1999.

“We have transferred a polluting facility that had hundreds of garbage trucks riding through the community and we’re making it into a valuable asset,” said Peggy Shepard, the WE ACT executive director. “This is the West Harlem Piers. It was a facility for this community.”

After the groups finalize a plan and submit it to the city, it will be up to government and economic development officials to find the resources to support the project.

It’s unclear how much it will cost to transform the dirty site for community use, and the timeline is still as murky as the river.

 WE ACT will soon commission a feasibility study that will take at least a year to complete, said Charles Callaway, a community organizer with the group.

Transforming the trash depot will complete the redevelopment of the waterfront site, where the West Harlem Piers Park was opened in 2009 on what used to be the plant’s parking lot.

“It’s a community benefit and an economic benefit,” said Maritta Dunn, president of the Harlem Valley Heights Community Development Corp., noting that increased waterfront access would bring more visitors to the area.

The facility is no longer a part of the city’s solid waste management plan and the Department of Sanitation does not have plans for it, said spokeswoman Belinda Mager.

From 1954 until it was shut down in 1999, the ratty, E-shaped building processed 1,000 tons of waste each day and was the only round-the-clock facility in Manhattan.

West Harlem Environmental Action — known as WE ACT — and other community groups led a lengthy battle to get it closed, successfully arguing that the depot was polluting the water and air, and causing health problems for residents.

The American Institute of Achitects sponsored an international contest two years back, challenging hundreds of designers from around the world to envision the site as a food and nutrition complex that could double as a transportation hub.

The whimsical proposals featured farms built on top of the river, floating community gardens and barges that deliver the fresh produce.

Many of those concepts are being considered, Callaway said.

It’s unclear how long it will be until the plans being floated are literally afloat, but the community leaders say they can finally envision the former trash heap turned into a treasure.

“West Harlem has been cut off from its waterfront for too long,” said Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, part of the coalition of working groups. “We’re trying to put community minds, maritime minds together to repurpose this thing.“

jransom@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/trash-treasure-article-1.1615167#ixzz2tQDGc6A5

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