Trashtastic Thursday with Harry J. Bubbins


Trashtastic Tuesday comes early this week (or late, depending on your world view). Note that the everydaytrash post flow may trickle down next week. I’ll be in Budapest. Stay tuned for stories of Euro and post-Communist trash. In the meantime…

I got an email yesterday from Harry J. Bubbins of Friends of Brook Park in the Bronx. The subject line read “Garbage Takes the Train BS” and the content below was a little back and forth between neighborhood environmental justice activists declaring a blurb from the “propaganda”. I read the blurb, then emailed Harry for more info on his group and concerns. Here’s what he had to say about trash in the Bronx and the sad fact that in our city of islands, it’s pretty freakin’ hard to access the water.


everydaytrash: So, I heard the city is now using trains to transport trash OUT of the Bronx, what about the trash coming IN?

Harry J. Bubbins: The Bronx, and specifically the South South Bronx, the Port Morris and Mott Haven neighborhoods handle almost all the garbage. Besides the borough waste, we handle trash from Manhattan and Queens as well. This is because the Mayor’s Solid Waste Management Plan, approved by the NYC Council has been stalled by three Upper West Side State legislators who refuse to handle Manhattan’s waste in Manhattan. The direct outcome of their recalcitrance is an increase of diesel truck traffic in the most at-risk for asthma communities and a dream deferred for a significant step towards environmental justice.


everydaytrash: What are the Harlem River Rail Yards?

Bubbins: The Harlem River Rail yards refer to the 96 acres site at the southern most tip of the Bronx that is owned by the people of New York through the NYS Department of Transportation. This site has been leased for 99 years for a sweetheart deal to Galesi Grouo, whose head was involved with Enron and such. They in turn sublease to Waste Management, the largest and most profitable waste handler in the hemisphere. WM was recently awarded a no bid contract for $1 billion to handle the NYC waste, despite providing no local amenities and an almost year long labor strike in 2006. We are at the mercy of this monopoly for carting out our waste. Currently, there is no public access along the waterfront of the Rail Yards, despite contractual obligations in the lease to provide access to the river and a bridge to Randall’s Island for South Bronx residents. We’d like to see 1,000 trees planted along the truck route corridors, public access to the waterfront, an environmental center, and green affordable housing in the yards footprint.


everydaytrash: How did the Friends of Brook Park waterfront project come about? How are plans progressing?

Bubbins: Our waterfront initiatives have emerged from over a decade of fighting against a disproportionate amount of polluting facilities and to advance a more holistic vision for our communities. In the aftermath of the successful effort by the then South Bronx Clean Air Coalition to shut down the BFI medical waste incinerator, we realized that a community led vision for the waterfront would serve to provide resources to local residents and visitors and help to pre-empt the polluting industries that are often located in lower income and people of color neighborhoods. Nevertheless, Governor Pataki saw fit to place not one but four power plants in Port Morris, and we have huge waster transfer stations across the shores from the East River to the Harlem River and no benefit whatsoever. In addition, a public bus depot was closed, the buses sent to park and storage in Harlem, the site was turned over to the non-artisan NY Post and hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies fueled that. Now, Fed Ex has closed down on the west side of Manhattan to make way for luxury housing and been given bonds and public subsidies to build a huge trucking facility which will bring more traffic and few if any jobs since the employees from Manhattan will be coming here.


We targetted five priorities, rebuilding a fishing pier destroyed by Con Ed, an eco art center, the bridge to Randall’s Island under the Amtrak viaduct, 2 street end access points, and a park on the Harlem River. All efforts are proceeding at various paces, with Sustainable South Bronx leading the way by spearheading the South Bronx Greenway which will achieve easier access to Randall’s Island. Our Harlem River park project, in partnership with Nyers for Parks and NY Restoration Project is moving forward thanks to support from our elected officials at every level. We have designs, have obtained seed funding through the NYS Environmental Protection Fund and are negotiating for rail access and an agreement to manage the site for community programming and recreation.


Pictures via the Friends of Brook Park site


10 Responses to “Trashtastic Thursday with Harry J. Bubbins”

  1. Me Says:

    That is awesome!

  2. friendsofbrookpark Says:

    Thanks for raising awreness of what we all throw “away”. Mindful of the green revolution we are being sold and how it comes with wrappers.

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  5. everydaytrash Says:

    Sweet, thanks for the update!

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