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Save Big Reuse's Queensbridge Community Compost Site!

For Immediate Release

Big Reuse is spending Earth Month fighting to continue diverting food scraps and yard waste from landfills to provide free, high-quality compost back to community groups and NYC parks after learning NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue is evicting their very popular Queensbridge composting site to create a Parks parking lot.  

On April 19 at 10:30 AM, Big Reuse will hold a press conference at their Queensbridge composting site with CM Julie Won, CM Shekar Krishnan, CM Shaun Abreu, CM Tiffany Caban, and additional elected officials and supporters. Big Reuse invites community members, organizations, and others - especially those less familiar with their work - to attend as well and see this essential community center firsthand. Come at 10 AM for a compost site tour, and stay afterward for a free street tree care event.  

Volunteering one hour leading into Earth Day weekend will send a strong message to NYC Parks and impact hundreds of community groups and thousands of residents and volunteers that depend on the compost and community-building opportunities Queensbridge provides.

PRESS CONFERENCE DATE: April 19, 2024, 10:30-11:30 AM

PRESS CONFERENCE LOCATION: Queensbridge Composting Site at Queens plaza South between 9th street and Vernon Blvd Long Island City, NY 11101. 

Parks Commissioner Donoghue’s decision to evict the Big Reuse community composting site is against the input of all local elected officials, community boards, community design meetings, legal experts and environmental and neighborhood groups.  Parks is going backwards and destroying a decade of transformative community work combatting the climate crisis to create unneeded additional parking.

For media inquiries:

Justin Green

justin@bigreuse.org

718-777-2065

The NYC Parks Department is making long overdue improvements to Baby Queensbridge Park next to Queensbridge Houses. Big Reuse’s composting site is next to the Baby Queensbridge Park area that is being improved - not where the projected park will be - but Parks Commissioner Donoghue is using the improvements as an excuse to evict the popular community composting site. Parks does not need our site to construct the planned park. 

In order to build Baby Queensbridge Park - Parks has to move a small Park’s sector maintenance parking lot which currently occupies the future park.  That site houses three Parks vehicles, garbage and garbage cans, and three small storage trailers.  Ironically in time for Earth Month - Parks is starting eviction of Big Reuse from their long time community composting site to move in a small Park’s sector maintenance yard equipment to create a parking lot.  

The truth is that Baby Queensbridge Park can be improved and the Big Reuse community composting site can remain. Watch a video tour of the sites and read more details with current and proposed future site photos. Parks controls multiple blocks of parking and operations under Queensboro Bridge - there is an underutilized 22,000 sq ft Parks parking lot down the street that should house the equipment being moved from the sector maintenance yard instead of evicting Big Reuse’s composting site. Allowing the existing composting site to remain next to a new park would create additional opportunities for community engagement, learning, and sustainable practices. 

Big Reuse’s community composting site has widespread local support.  A letter writing campaign Big Reuse recently launched has already submitted over 2100 letters to Commissioner Donoghue and Mayor Adams.  The composting site is supported by all local elected officials including CM Julie Won, CM Shekar Krishnan, CM Tiffany Caban, AM Mamdani, and additional members of City Council such as Chair of Sanitation Committee Shaun Abreu.  Both Queens Community Board 1 and 2 have issued letters of support.  Parks organized Community Input meetings from 1/28/21 and 2/1/22 which resulted in unanimous input in support of the community composting site remaining.  Dozens of community and environmental groups have also come out in support including NRDC and WE ACT for Environmental Justice. 

The Big Reuse composting site has extensive support because it has an ongoing positive impact on the community and the climate.  Big Reuse has worked on improving Baby Queensbridge Park for over a decade - cleaning up and improving two separate areas of the Parks controlled space under the Queensboro Bridge.  The current composting site had been used by a construction company as a dumping site for waste until Big Reuse took over management of the Parks space and removed 40 dumpsters of garbage and upgraded the site into a nationally recognized state of the art community composting site.

The composting site is popular because it is a center for sustainability - hosting tours and hundreds of volunteers each year.  The composting site composts Parks’ leaf and yard waste with residential food scraps.  It annually produces 700 yards of compost for Queens Parks, 150+ community groups and street tree care days - supporting thousands of residents and volunteers greening New York City.  

At a time when the Mayor is launching climate-focused initiatives like sustainability goals in PlaNYC, Green Economy Action Plan, and the new office of Urban Agriculture, Donoghue is trading a thriving composting site for a parking lot. The decision is especially shortsighted when there is a clear compromise here: take the 22,000 sq ft underused Parks lot next store to Big Reuse’s composting site for parking and sector maintenance instead.

“The Queensbridge Baby Park was brought to life by Big Reuse. They created a vision for the space to be used for the community and it also underscores the importance of preserving their composting program, which residents clearly supported during the Park’s scoping process for the new Park.” -- Queens Borough President Donovan Richards support letter 

Concerned community members are submitting letters to Mayor Adams and Parks Commissioner Donoghue urging them to provide Big Reuse with a new renewable license agreement.  Eviction would end Big Reuse’s community programs and remove the site from public use. 

The partnership between the Parks Department and Big Reuse has benefitted Parks and the local community.  Big Reuse has demonstrated their effectiveness as the type of community partner the Community Parks Initiative seeks to work with to engage local residents around the maintenance and care of Parks, with a deep knowledge of Queens and its network of community organizations, volunteers, and avid composters. Since 2011, Big Reuse has composted over three million pounds of Parks Department leaves and wood chips and provided over 3,000 cubic yards of high-quality compost back to NYC Parks. 

The recent budget cuts to the city’s community composting programs and organizations who built citywide composting awareness and support have already put these essential services at risk.  Parks has been pushing to remove community composting since 2021.  In 2021 and 2022 the community pushed back, forcing Parks to back down in an epic 8 hour city council hearing and outpouring of community support.  The Department of Sanitation offered to build out a replacement composting site in a defunct Marine Transfer station in Greenpoint.  The build out of the Greenpoint replacement site was eliminated with last year's budget cuts.  That means there is no replacement site for the Big Reuse composting site to move into after Commissioner Donoghue’s eviction, and it will eliminate Big Reuse’s community composting program.  

“As elected officials whose communities benefit from community composting, we urge the Parks Department to offer Big Reuse a new license agreement so that they can continue their composting operations.” -- Council Members Julie Won, Shekar Krishnan, Shaun Abreu, Tiffany Caban, Julie Menin, Mercedes Narcisse, Sandra Ung, Rita Joseph, Lincoln Restler, Lynn Schulman, and Shahana Hanif.

“Big Reuse has provided invaluable services to the City in revitalizing and upgrading this formerly derelict site, in educating many New Yorkers about the importance of composting to the city's environmental health, in mobilizing local volunteers, and in servicing the NYC Parks system with a leaf composting facility that was maintained without public expense. Given the funds, materials and labor that have already been invested in the site, it would be a profound waste of resources to demolish what they have created and force them to move, particularly when their mission is so aligned with that of an environmentally friendly and sustainable NYC Parks system.” – Queens Community Board 2

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