Among the screeches, sirens, and horns of New York City, the constant hum of refrigeration has some Upper West Side residents protesting.
FreshDirect, a popular internet grocery delivery service, has been parking its refrigerated trucks on 98th Street and West End Avenue for hours at a time throughout the day, arriving as early as 6 a.m. and staying as late as 11 p.m, residents say. The trucks are being used as warehouses for door-to-door deliveries, some residents say, arguing that the sounds of refrigerators running and the bustle of workers has become a great nuisance.
“There’s been little to no progress,” Upper West Side resident Linda Ditrinco said at a recent Community Board 7 meeting.
"They might move one block over, but what does that do?” Ditrinco said, adding that the quality of life in the surrounding buildings is also disrupted by noise pollution.
“Clearly, this is an issue that requires a longer term solution than moving around the district,” Community Board 7 chair Mel Wymore said.
But officials from FreshDirect said the company’s trucks are designed to keep noise levels to a minimum and that the complaints of extended periods of noise are baseless.
“The sound created by FreshDirect’s trucks is the refrigeration, which is necessary to keep all of our food fresh and at its best,” the company said in a statement. “Our trucks are never left on for extended periods of time unattended—in fact, they are designed to automatically switch off after one minute of idling.”
The FreshDirect trucks were previously parked at 92nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, but after residents complained, the CB7’s transportation committee contacted FreshDirect, and the company agreed to move its trucks to 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, where they remain.
Andrew Albert, co-chairperson of the transportation committee, said the location was identified as one where the trucks would be least likely to disrupt local businesses or residents.
The trucks at 98th Street are a recent addition—one which has sparked new protest, since some complain that West End Avenue is more residential than commercial.
Albert said he is not sure if there is a solution that would fully satisfy residents and FreshDirect.
“Maybe we can find a place for them [FreshDirect] to rent space,” Wymore suggested. “I think that would be the optimal option for them—to find a distribution center rather than to find space on the street.”
Renting space in the neighborhood would mean that FreshDirect would not have to park trucks by residential buildings for hours at a time, but would still use the vans to make deliveries.
Not all local residents, though, said they were bothered by the trucks.
“It’s bogus to blame one company when there’s a lot of other stuff going on in the area,” Carrie Pizarro, who lives in Westview Apartments between 97th and 98th streets, said.
With a fire station on 100th Street and nearby construction, the noise of the trucks seems minor to some.
“I think the construction is more of a hassle than FreshDirect,” Pizarro said.
With no clear solution in sight, and continued support for the services of FreshDirect, Albert said that CB7 will soon contact the company again to chart a plan of action.
“People want their service, but they don’t want the trucks that come with it,” he said.
Abby Mitchell contributed reporting.