Proposed Sanitation Garage Site Becomes Parking lot for Satmar Jewish sect
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By Stephen Witt
A city-owned vacant lot earmarked for the long-sought-after sanitation garage for
Bedford-Stuyvesant has turned into a parking lot for the Satmar Hasidic Jewish sect that utilizes
it to park their school buses, work vans and other transportation buses as well as to store carnival
rides and equipment, this paper has learned.
The 47,789-square-foot site is located at 59 Nostrand Avenue between Park and Flushing
Avenues in the northern portion of Bed-Stuy. Since 1985, Bed-Stuy residents have been
advocating for construction of a local sanitation garage so that garbage would be picked up in a
more orderly manner and streets would be plowed on time during snowstorms.
Currently, all garbage, street cleaning and snow removal trucks operate out of a sanitation
garage in Bushwick that also services Williamsburg, meaning that these services are logistically
problematic when it comes to Bed-Stuy.
Bed-Stuy residents thought their prayers were finally answered a few years ago when the
Department of Sanitation (DOS) was given jurisdiction of the property, a design was made for
the garage and capital city money was allocated for the project.
However, the money was pulled out of the 2011-12 city capital budget, and now the city
is leasing it to the Satmars.
“The Department of Sanitation (DOS) has permitted the Department of Citywide
Administrative Services (DCAS) to enter into a month-to-month agreement with the Central
United Talmudical Academy starting on December 1, 2013,” said DOS spokesperson Kathy
Dawkins in an e-mail. “According to the agreement, the approximate 47,789-square-foot space is
rented for $4,740 and is used for school bus fleet parking. The property has general liability
insurance in the amount of at least $1M, which must be maintained by the lessee. Currently,
there is no funding in the capital budget for the construction of Brooklyn 3 garage.
DCAS spokesperson Julianne Cho said the agency routinely leases city-owned real estate
to private tenants for short terms through an open application process. When informed there was
more than school buses parked on the property, Cho said DCAS will inspect the property to
determine whether there are currently any additional unauthorized uses.
Members of the Satmar sect could not be reached at press time as it was a Jewish holiday.
Community Board 3 Chair Tremaine Wright said that as the site is managed by DOS, the
community has little oversight on how the lot is used or leased. However, the community board,
which represents Bed-Stuy, has let City Councilman Steve Levin know of their desire to have it
developed into a sanitation garage.
“CB3 is still looking forward to the development of that site as a sanitation garage,”
Levin could not be reached for comment at press time.
The leasing of the site comes amid some strains in the relationship with the Satmars, who
are increasingly migrating into Bed-Stuy from Williamsburg, and the large African-American
community of Bed-Stuy. n the past year, this includes the beating of a gay black man on nearby Flushing Avenue
by alleged Hasidic Jews, as well as disagreements over use of the local park outside the Marcy
public housing development, and complaints from both groups of harassment and intimidation.