Proposed Astoria sanitation garage moves forward with City Council subcommittee vote

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A proposed New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) facility to replace the current 90-year-old sanitation garage in Astoria is moving forward, after the City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings, and Dispositions voted to advance the proposal to the full Council for approval on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

DSNY plans to replace the garage at 34-28 21st St. with a new, 93,700-square-foot facility, located within City Councilman Costa Constantinides’ District 22. The city agency also plans to build a new 20,000-square-foot salt shed within the business zone, replacing the one at 43rd Avenue and Vernon Boulevard.

For years, the city has noted the current garage on 21st Street is too small and beyond repair. The limited space has forced the Sanitation Department to store trucks on the surrounding sidewalks, in what’s largely a residential neighborhood.

Residents of the NYCHA Ravenswood Houses and Queensview Co-ops have long complained of dangerous street conditions around the garage, as well as polluted air from the constant flow of trucks.

“The agreement we’ve made delivers major wins for the western Queens community,” said Constantinides “This will improve traffic safety along 21st Street, clean the air for Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses, and create truly affordable housing. I’d like to thank our partners, especially the community leaders, who made this agreement possible.”

In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio committed $130 million to build a new facility within the community district serviced by the current garage. The council’s subcommittee members voted 5-0 on the new Astoria building, which will be accessed by a local truck route along 19th Avenue.

“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 City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, noting the 2017 town hall he co-hosted with the mayor during  which he made the commitment to replace the Queens West Sanitation Depot. “I applaud my colleague, Council Member Costa Constantinides, for working out the details of the new location of the depot; we have worked well together to accomplish these ends. I am proud 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. This is a great day for Ravenswood. I want to especially thank Carol Wilkins, the President of the Ravenswood Houses Resident Association, for her years of hard work to bring justice to her community.”

The project will advance the city’s clean energy goals by installing solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations at the new facility.

The city has committed to making several improvements throughout Astoria in order to address past environmental injustices, including cleaning up Luyster Creek and improving traffic safety on 21st Street.

Additionally, the city committed to replacing the old garage with 100 percent affordable housing. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will begin a public input process in the Spring of 2021, in response to the ongoing efforts by community groups, such as the Western Queens Community Land Trust and the Ravenswood Tenants Association, to create neighborhood-driven vision for the site.

Once that process is complete, HPD plans to issue a request for proposals to make that vision a reality.

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