Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen Sitting Pretty at Top of Hudson River Park Composting Heap
May 16, 2018
By Donathan Salkaln
It takes a monumental commitment for people to separate food scraps, pack them up, and drop them off in the Hudson River Park composting collection bins — and that’s precisely what residents of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen did better than their counterparts in the areas of Battery Park, Tribeca, the West Village, Greenwich Village, and the Meatpacking District. This accomplishment and so many more were celebrated at May 9’s annual meeting of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association (CWPA), held at Chelsea’s German Lutheran Church of St. Paul.
During the first year of the composting program, initiated by the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT; hudsonriverpark.org), Chelsea processed 4,712 pounds, only outdone by the bin at Pier 84’s dog run (at W. 44th St.), which netted 5,797 pounds. And although Gristedes and Western Beef anchor Chelsea’s West Side, it is the shoppers at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s who are composting champions, as reported by HRPT via Peter Kelly, Assistant Director of Horticulture. Kelly often gets his green thumbs smeared with muck while emptying the bags. “During the process, we separate the bags from the scraps. Paper bags are ripped up before joining the scraps, so they won’t jam the machine’s augers,” Kelly said, adding, “Please don’t use the small composting eco-green bags, as they also get caught in the augers and are a pain.”
It is a testament to the work of NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson that his district of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen would be leading the composting charge. It was he who kicked off the inaugural campaign last year with a free Composting 101 workshop. If you missed that educational opportunity, there is good news, as Anna Koskol, HRPT’s Environmental Educator, informed those at the May 9 gathering. “If you want to learn about composting,” she said, “please join us on Wednesday, May 23 at Pier 66 for our second annual workshop.”
Also celebrated at the meeting was Robert Trentlyon, 88, founding president of CWPA. He was presented with a letter of lifetime achievement from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Robert Trentlyon had the opportunity to bring his ideas to fruition as a member of the task force formed in 1986, to make recommendations for replacement of the unrealized Westway plan,” Cuomo wrote. “For decades, he has been devoted to bettering the quality of life in Chelsea and making it one of the most beautiful areas of Manhattan.”
For those of us who revel in the blooming of daffodils each spring, New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P) was present at the meeting. Their “Daffodil Project” has donated thousands of bulbs to Chelsea Waterside Park, and over seven million bulbs to green spaces across the five boroughs. Joked NY4P Executive Director Lynn Kelly, “I often say that a daffodil is the gateway drug for us to get communities involved. Who doesn’t love planting a bulb and seeing a daffodil the next year?”
As an over 100-year-old independent organization, NY4P gathers data and research and then uses that information for green space advocacy. Kelly spoke of their website, which contains a trove of maps and data on green spaces for each NYC Council District. At a quick glance, our District 3 only has one park per 1,000 residents — compared with 2.9 parks in districts citywide. It also only has nine percent of residents under 18, compared with 22 percent citywide.
A current challenge for NY4P is Mayor Bill be Blasio’s controversial rezoning plan, with his motive to get more affordable housing for the city. Said Kelly, “If you’re going to increase density in New York City for residences, you should also be investing in green spaces in those neighborhoods, or in some cases, new parks!”
Many have heard of the Wolf of Wall Street, but what about the Coyote of Pelham Bay? Arturo Romua, of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation’s Wildlife Unit, presented a study on the eastern coyote (although its should be noted that the Unit also champions our city’s white-tailed deer, raccoons, red-tailed hawks and piping clovers, among others; for more info, see nycgovparks.org/events/wildlife). Romua, who noted that the eastern coyote has been spotted more regularly in recent years, was passionate in his determination to see these animals safely coexist with the human population. It is only, he insisted, “If you see a coyote is stumbling and coming towards you, that you should be alarmed,” adding, “They are fellow New Yorkers!”
It was announced that the CWPA Annual Picnic will take place on Pier 64 (at W. 24th St.) on the evening of June 12, and the annual CWPA Clearwater Sail on the Hudson River will be on July 25. All attendees left the meeting with a “Zero Waste by 2030” tote bag, courtesy of Andrew Hoyles, Senior Manager, Organics Outreach for the NYC Department of Sanitation (nyc.gov/dsny).
For more information on the Chelsea Waterside Park Association, including how to join, visit cwpark.org.