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Old Posted Apr 1, 2019, 11:04 PM
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Written by Erin DeGregorio
March 31, 2019

As conversations about the impending Gowanus upzoning and Superfund cleanup continue, ideas are beginning to form about how the Gowanus Canal’s shorelines can be better utilized in the Waterfront Access Plan. The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club provided some suggestions during their presentation to CB6’s Economic/Waterfront/Community Development & Housing Committee on March 18.

“Our waterfront is unique in the sense that it’s a canal way – not a river way with large esplanades, bike paths and highways,” said Dredgers’ Treasurer Owen Foote, who is also an urban planner and architect.

To prevent underused amenity space along the shoreline, the Dredgers suggested having cultural and active passageways with, for example, rock climbing walls and mixed-use paths inclusive to slow-paced biking. Additionally, integrated waterfront service facilities (i.e. boathouses, barge docks, floating walkways) and integrated services offering food, marine supplies or boat storage could be in use nearly year-round.

“[This] is trying to find a way to prevent the shoreline from just being a long row of glass and brick that rises up vertically from the path,” said Brad Vogel, the Dredgers’ captain. “You want variety. Otherwise it’s going to seem boring … and no one’s going to find this to be a unique place that they want to go to.”

Gowanus residents demand rezoning wait until after canal cleanup
Residents call city unprepared, DEP continues push for tunnel remediation option

March 27, 2019
Scott Enman

Gowanus residents allege that two city agencies tasked with overseeing the neighborhood’s rezoning and canal cleanup are unprepared and have left them in the dark.

Tensions boiled over on Tuesday at the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s monthly gathering with employees of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of City Planning.

“It was a revealing meeting,” Joseph Alexiou, a journalist, historian and author of “Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal,” told the Brooklyn Eagle. “You could see just how little communication seems to happen. The community is not totally in touch with the city, and the city is not in touch with each other.

“There’s a missing tier of leadership here. The community was trying to identity that person, and they couldn’t do it. The city was being defensive, dismissive and not answering the questions. People in the audience are armed with a lot of information, but they don’t seem to respect that.”
DEP and DCP were invited to answer more than 20 questions that were submitted in January, but residents said virtually none of the inquiries were answered.

“I was hoping that DEP and DCP would have a more structured joint presentation, answering the questions the CAG had presented,” Gowanus resident Brad Vogel told the Eagle. “Even with both city agencies — and the Environmental Protection Agency — in the room, it felt like we weren’t getting clear answers.”

Residents wanted to know if the proposed Gowanus rezoning would create more sewage overflow that would endanger the cleaned-up canal; what agency or entity would police new developments along the waterway; and how that entity or group of entities will do so.

Residents also wanted someone to hold accountable if something goes wrong. “The community needs concrete answers to these questions,” Vogel said.

But DEP, undeterred by the residents’ complaints, said it appreciated the lively discussion and stressed that the agency is still in the early stages of the canal cleanup.
“New Yorkers all agree that we have the best drinking water around, but beyond that topic we all love to argue — and we appreciated the broad range of perspectives voiced at the Gowanus CAG meeting,” Ted Timbers, communications director of DEP, told the Eagle.

“We made clear we’re early in the process of understanding future impacts and are committed to an ongoing dialogue. If the CAG’s ultimate goal is to clean up the canal — then there’s no debate — DEP’s proposed tunnel alternative further reduces CSOs, enables scalability for increased population growth and creates less disruption during construction.”
Residents also pressed to know why the Gowanus rezoning couldn’t be postponed until after the canal was fully clean.

“DEP dismissively says they will look into things, but it sounds empty,” Alexiou said. “If a regular New Yorker or any outsider comes in and says, ‘Wait, you’re going to build these big buildings here before the cleanup is finished?’ They say that’s insane.”

Until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed for the rezoning, however, it will be unlikely that either agency can address how increased density will affect the amount of waste in the neighborhood.

Gowanus Canal's sewage-tank costs climb into the billions: report

March 26, 2019

The price of two sewage retention tanks the city will construct as part of the effort to clean up Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal has jumped more than 15 times beyond initial estimates.

The Brooklyn Eagle reported that the price for the two tanks has grown from a projected $78 million to $1.2 billion—double the estimated cost of the entire Superfund cleanup.

An official with the Environmental Protection Agency told the Eagle that the price has grown because the city plans to build the tanks on private land acquired through eminent domain, rather than on the city-owned property nearby recommended by the EPA. The city countered that the federal estimate was too conservative and did not take into account the preservation of the historic Gowanus Station Building.
The two tanks—one 8 million gallons, the other 4 million gallons—would divert sewage and stormwater away from the canal. But the city has proposed an alternative plan to the EPA: a tunnel that could store up to 16 million gallons of sewage and stormwater overflow.

"DEP’s proposed tunnel alternative would include more storage, be scalable to accommodate increased population growth and cause less disruption during construction – clearly a much bigger bang for New Yorkers’ buck," a spokesperson said.
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