For too long, the Fresh Kills Landfill has weighed on the people of Staten Island. It has been around for nearly fifty years, and since 1991, it has served as the city's only repository of residential solid waste. All of the city's residential waste -- 13,000 tons per day -- has come to this landfill on the west coast of the island.
For Staten Islanders, the landfill has been an unfair burden, an eyesore, impinging on the quality of life for individuals and businesses. As they have seen and smelled the garbage steadily mount over the years, the people of Staten Island have shown remarkable patience. I thank them for that. From here we can see what they have endured.
I also thank them for their persistence. Without it, we would not be here today. Patience and persistence together are making this possible.
Staten Island deserves fair treatment, and from the outset this administration has been committed to seeing that the old ways of dumping things in "the outer boroughs," both figuratively and literally, are permanently changed.
As we prepare to usher in a new era in public transportation later this week with "One City, One Fare," and as we see real cultural, economic, and social optimism in the so-called "outer boroughs," we can finally say that we are giving those who don't live in Manhattan the clout that they deserve.
Last June, the Governor and I established a joint task force that developed a waste disposal plan to use other avenues of disposal as we phase out Fresh Kills. We are not looking to the distant future and asking ourselves what we will do with our waste. We are addressing the problem now because we understand that this is a matter of urgency for the people of the island, and really for the city as a whole.
Today we take a major step toward our goal. The New York City Department of Sanitation has awarded a three year contract to begin exporting as many as 1,750 tons of solid waste a day -- or over 530,000 tons each year -- from the Bronx. Instead of coming to Fresh Kills, this waste will be transported to a landfill in Waverly, Virginia.
The contract is a major victory for two reasons. First of all, it will cost the city $51.72 per ton of waste, less than the experts had anticipated; and secondly, it shows that we are well on the way to meeting our 2001 goal of freeing Staten Island of this burden for good.
In the years to come, we will continue building on the city's strong record of recycling and reducing garbage to minimize New Yorkers' daily waste output, and we will proudly close the site forever in 2001. In 2001, images of waste from all five boroughs being dumped on Staten Island will no longer be a daily headache. They will be memories.
The year 2001 does not sound so far away anymore. and indeed it isn't. Next year is already 1998, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of this landfill, which was originally only supposed to serve as a temporary repository. We are in the midst of a much happier birthday celebration right now, this year: the 100th anniversary of the consolidation and unification of the city.
That's the spirit we celebrate and reaffirm today.
I want to thank Borough President Molinari, Governor Pataki, the Department of Sanitation under the leadership of Commissioner John Doherty, and all of those whose hard work is making this hopeful transformation possible for the people of Staten Island.