Friday, May 21, 2021

Take A Virtual Tour Of Big Reuse Queensbridge Compost Processing Site Where Roosevelt Island, Queens & B'klyn Food Scraps Are Turned Into Compost - But For How Long, NYC Parks Plans To Evict Big Reuse Compost Site By End Of June

The locally based volunteer group Haki Compost Collective (Haki) organized and manages the Roosevelt Island Food Scrap Drop Off Site located every Saturday in front of the Rivercross buiiding next to the Farmers Market. 

Last Sunday, Haki brought a group of Roosevelt Island residents to the Big Reuse Queensbridge Compost Processing Center on Vernon B'lvd under the Queensboro Bridge for a tour to see how the food scraps 

collected on Roosevelt Island 

are turned into compost.

Haki volunteer Danika Lam reports:

During our most recent field trip to the Queensbridge Compost Processing Site, Lou from @BigReuse and his trusty sidekick Rocky, @AstoriaPug, took Roosevelt Island residents along the journey their food scraps take from fully formed corn cob and pineapple crown to nutrient-rich compost. Top of mind in the discussion was, of course, the looming eviction at the hands of @NYCParks.

I arrived late for the tour but Big Reuse Compost Manager Lou and Rocky gave me a tour of the Compost Facility too.


After the tour, Lou reported that NYC Parks Department plans to evict Big Reuse from the site at the end of June.

Ms Lam adds:

The Queensbridge Compost Processing Site is absolutely vital to composting on Roosevelt Island. 

It is only thanks to our partnership with Big Reuse that Haki Compost Collective was able to bring back our community's food scrap drop-off site in September 2020 and collect the high volume of food scraps that residents contribute every Saturday--over 1,000 pounds and growing. 

Local community composting sites make the most sense in terms of logistics, sustainability, and community education and engagement. The City should be expanding community composting, not evicting our world-class processing sites.

According to Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors (GRIN) founder Anthony Longo:

BIG Reuse makes, by far, the best use of that small space under the bridge. They built something of value for the neighborhood, for the city and for the earth. The compost site should be used as the blueprint for how to compost in an urban setting. It is self-serving and short sighted for the Parks department to continue eviction threats. They have blatantly disrespected the people who do this important work as they try to push for their parking lot with hypocritical justifications. There is nothing they, or anyone else, can put in that spot that is more valuable then the BIG reuse Compost site.

and iDig2Learn founder Christina Delfico supports composting efforts by Big Reuse: 

Making the conscious action of collecting your food scraps each week and dropping them for the compost program could eliminate 1/3 of NYC’s waste stream. Of every sustainable action available to individuals this is one where the outcome is known because that valuable compost returns to our neighborhood landscapes, gardens and houseplants, but you need a place to process it like Big Reuse,

The Big Reuse Queensbridge Compost Processing Facility serves Queens and Brooklyn neighborhood food scrap programs in addition to Roosevelt Island.

I asked the NYC Parks Department:

According to Big Reuse, NYC Parks intends to evict Big Reuse from the facility at the end of June so the Parks Department can use the space for vehicle parking. At the end of last December, Big Reuse was given a 6 month extension to stay until June 2021 but since that time there has been no discussion or negotiations between Big Reuse and the Parks Department about the Queensbridge Compost facility. 

Does the Parks department intend to evict Big Reuse from Queensbridge compost facility?

Why does Parks department want to evict Big Reuse from the facility?

Has there been any discussion or negotiation between Parks and Big Reuse to extend their agreement for Compost facility beyond June 2021. 

Or find a suitable alternative site?

If not, why no discussion on subject?
A NYC Parks Department spokesperson replied:
We are ardent supporters of composting to support the sustainable management of parks across our system. In accordance with the 2014 decision in Raritan Baykeeper v. City of New York, we are working to bring composting in our parks up to date by ensuring only park waste is processed on parkland, rather than including consumer and regional waste.
Here is link to the December 20, 2013 Raritan decision cited by the NYC Parks Department and December 18,2020  Parks Department press release on subject.
Manhattan Community Board 8, which represents Roosevelt Island, passed this April 21 resolution supporting the Parks Department extending license agreement with Big Reuse for the Queensbridge Compost Processing Center.
Yesterday, Big Reuse reported:
Exciting news!  Legislation was just introduced, at the state level, to clarify that community composting is an acceptable use of Parks land.  Makes sense right?  Our site makes compost with Parks' leaves to use in Parks utilizing public support and volunteers. 
  • If you are part of an organization that supports community composting - please sign on this support letter ASAP!!
Also - NYC Bar Association issued a statement supporting our community compost sites and our ability to stay on Parks land! 

There has been a lot of other composting news over the last month - Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the gradual return of curbside composting through a brand new opt in curbside compost program and the expansion of the current Food Scrap Drop Offs program to 200 sites.  Big Reuse currently collects from 40 of the drop offs.         

Unfortunately - Parks still has not renewed our license for our Queenboro Bridge community composting site, which expires June 30 - in 40 days!  And our sites provide a large % of the composting utilized by the Food Scrap Drop Offs.  Look for more ways you can help us stay shortly!

Also, Parks is still pushing out Lower East Side Ecology Center from their community composting site.  Big Reuse continues to work with an amazing coalition of organizations - NYPLI, NRDC, NYC EJA, Save Our Compost Coalition to fight to save NYC community composting sites. 

The main rationale Parks legal counsel has offered for evicting composting sites from parkland is that community composting of residential food waste was not allowed under state "alienation" public trust doctrine, which states parkland can not be used for non park purposes.  Our sites compost Park's leaves provides; compost to Parks, street trees, and community gardens; and activate hundreds of volunteers annually - we feel our sites were not alienation of Park land.  

The NYC Bar Association letter and action at State Legislature seek to correct Parks erroneous interpretation of alienation.
 Stay tuned for more.