Monday, February 8, 2016

Sex, Death, and the Planet

Moderated by Bonnie Webber
How Population Impacts Climate Change
Elizabeth Burleson, Burleson Institute & Legal Advisor for 
IUCN to the Climate Talks - Population and Water/Environment
Mark Harris, author of Grave Matters: A Journey To A Natural Way of Burial
David Leven, Executive Director of End Of Life Choices New York.  He will speak about pending legislation in Albany regarding end of life decisions.

DATE: Wednesday, February 10
TIME: 6:30 PM Refreshments and Networking, Program 7 PM
PLACE: Seafarers and International House - 123 East 15th Street, corner Irving Pl. Manhattan
Donations Welcome !

Subways: 4/5/N/Q/R/ Union Square Station 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Questionable "policies" under EPA Administrator Judith Enck and a sea-change of attitude by the EPA toward NYC, a Gowanus Canal PRP!

The recent Gowanus Canal CAG general meeting was a thoroughly confusing and depressing affair. But more on that in a moment.

First the basic facts:  

The CAG General Meeting was held on Thursday January 19, at PS 58 in Carrolll Gardens.  It was open to the public.  Superfund Director, U.S. EPA Region 2, Walter Mugdan presented updates to the audience on the possible future locations for the two retention tanks, an issue that has become contentious as the City of New York, one of the PRP's, puts pressure on the EPA.  Notably absent was Christos Tsiamis, the EPA Remedial Project Manager U.S. EPA Region 2 for the Gowanus Canal Clean-Up, who for years, has been patiently and diligently presenting the actual science of the Gowanus Canal clean-up to the CAG, as well as thoroughly explaining the rationale and best clean-up design for the community. 

 Above:  EPA Administrator speaks to the Gowanus Canal CAG

Mugdan stated that the first retention tank, the Owl's Head tank site, had been decided but that "no decision" has been taken on the second retention tank location yet.  This second tank site has been the subject of much controversy lately.

Paradoxically, Mugdan explained that while the EPA agrees that the best location for this second tank is under the swimming pool in Thomas Greene Park (and was the original Tsiamis plan), the City of NYC instead heavily favors a site along the Gowanus Canal at the head of the Gowanus Canal.  This latter plan requires the use of eminent domain (!) to seize three plots of private land with what amounts to public tax payer dollars. (See our thoughts on the unfairness of eminent domain being used for this retention tank at:   "Public dollars might be found by using a percentage of our water bills," one NYC elected official mentioned, to the huge dismay of some in the audience.

Furthermore, while Mugdan reassured the audience that this latter option would not delay the Gowanus Canal clean-up, there was a general feeling in the audience that in fact the clean-up WOULD in fact be delayed due to process of eminent domain costing protracted legal time and monies.  "The City's proposal, which includes condemnation proceedings and potentially lengthy lawsuits, obviously has the potential of delaying the environmental clean up of the Gowanus Canal significantly and it will add a lot of uncertainty." PMFA

Mugdan did not have a good answer as to why the EPA would feel pressured to side with the City, which is a PRP, but it was clear that when he said "polices" were to blame, that in fact he was referring to the pressures of NYC politics as usual.  Mugdan admitted the coal tar amounts under the proposed private properties were far LESS than under the swimming pool and parkland which he called the "mother load" of contaminating coal tar.  FYI: The City of New York has a website describing the dangers of this coal tar at  Thus science, logic and efficacy would seemingly back the first plan.

However Mugdan did admit that the NYC Parks Commissioner was vehemently against the siting of the second retention tank under the swimming pool at Thomas Greene Park as this tank might need a head house that would need to be situated on the existing parkland where the pool is located.  There were obviously many holes in this line of thinking and the argument was surely based on no science or math as the head house dimensions are unknown and the possibility of locating the head house near the parkland rather than ON the parkland have never been seriously considered. 

Furthermore, several CAG members pointed out the that the same NYC Parks Department actually knew about this mother load of coal tar when it authorized the existing park and swimming pool. The then NYC Parks Commissioner situated this public City Park (dumbly) right on top of this mother load of contamination.  Thus, the exposure to the public by these harmful toxins did not stop this ill-conceived NYC Parks design.  Why then, would the EPA, an agency of the federal government, give the NYC Parks Commissioner so much gravitas now?

One of the CAG members commented that local politics seemed to be driving the latest decisions of the EPA, not science.  Mugdan answered he liked to think of the word "policy" not "politics." However many in the audience remained unconvinced as well as unimpressed by such semantics.  

CORD wrote Judith Enck, Administrator for U.S. EPA's Region 2 Office U.S. EPA about our severe reservations regarding the use of eminent domain to site the second retention tank. 
We forwarded this letter to Mayor DeBlasio, Senator Schumer, Governor Cuomo, and many other elected officials.

Katia Kelly, Community Activist and Neighborhood Blogger wrote:  "Why would the EPA Region 2 under the leadership of Judith Enck, which has prided itself on keeping its own timeline, open itself up to uncertainty and time delays?  And why does it seem to cater to the City, which is a PRP?  After all, there is a real possibility that the City is trying to use eminent domain to delay the clean-up process?  Historically, one City administration after the other has been successfully kicking the problem down the road.  That is why we needed the EPA to interfere in the first place."

Judging from the comments to her story, many in our community have become both skeptical and depressed by the recent turn of events.  The EPA, a federal government agency, and once this community's hope for a healthier and safer environment seems to have gotten in bed with the wrong party lately, a PRP in fact, under the questionable leadership of Judith Enck.   

And where on earth did Christos Tsiamis go?


More Information at These Useful Links

Eminent Domain is Unnecessary, UNFAIR, and Fiscally Irresponsible in Gowanus! (Part Two) 

CORD Letter to Judith Enck

In a Strange Twist EPA's Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck May Let Policies Rather Than Science and Engineering Contaminate Gowanus Canal Superfund Clean-Up PMFA
Tonight, EPA To Update Community Board 6 On Sitting Of CSO Retention Tanks Mandated By Gowanus Canal Superfund Remedial Plan PMFA

PRP Definition at the EPA

Friday, January 8, 2016

“Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal,” reviewed in the NY Times!

Congratulations to fellow community activist, and fellow Gowanus Canal CAG member, 
Joseph Alexiou, 
whose book on the Gowanus Canal, 
“Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal,”
was just reviewed in the NY Times!
Way to go Joseph!

Above: The Gowanus Canal flooding during Huricane Sandy Digital Photo c. Triada Samaras 2013

And please see my Gowanus Canal Hurricane Sandy photos and other items at:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Eminent Domain is Unnecessary, UNFAIR, and Fiscally Irresponsible in Gowanus! (Part Two)

Above image from

We at CG CORD have said it before:

We at CORD believe the cost of seizing private property in Gowanus for the siting of the retention tanks for the Gowanus Canal clean-up is OUTRAGEOUS when a better solution is obviously available.  LINK

And yet at the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group/CAG meeting last night we learned New York City (NYC Department of Parks and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection) still think it s good idea!

And the money used for this seizure will be our TAXPAYER dollars which could so be much better spent on infrastructure, current public housing, schools, hospitals, libraries, and so much more.  

"The sentiment against the City was best expressed by a Gowanus NYCHA resident, who said: "Right now, the City does not have the money to support public housing.  These people [meaning Alloy] are coming in to give you land versus going to court to do eminent domain. I don't understand going to court because it is going to take money and time to do this." She felt that the money could be better spent on public housing."  

We at CORD find it totally confusing and discouraging that now, after so much hard work, dedication and planning, the City of New York (see links above) is indeed still serious about making major changes to the Gowanus Canal clean-up timeline.  And that NYC is still willing to toy with the legal decision that is the Gowanus Canal Record of Decision (ROD), made by the Federal Government/EPA.  LINK 

We feel strongly the EPA or the Federal government  and NOT the City of New York, has been our SOLE friend and sole true ally in this Gowanus Canal clean-up process.

Why is our very own city so tone deaf to our needs?
Why does NYC wish to seize private property so eagerly using our own tax dollars?
Why does NYC deny the lengthy and costly process of seizing private property and deny the years litigation will surely add to the Gowanus CAnal clean-up?

And who amongst our POLITICIANS will dare to stand up and LISTEN to us?
Who will dare to represent and protect the actual interests of the PEOPLE in our community?

Triada Samaras, CORD Co-Founder


Monday, November 30, 2015

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Public Welcome!

Mary Star of The Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, Brooklyn
DRAFT AGENDA (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:45 PM: Introductions and Updates
  • Introductions
  • Project Updates (EPA)

6:45 – 7:30 PM:  Alloy proposal to donate land as part of tank siting
·      Representatives of Alloy will be present to describe their proposal and answer any questions

7:30 – 8:15:  NYC DEP and Parks Department
·      Representatives of DEP and Parks will be on hand to provide comments on the Alloy presentation and to discuss tank siting and open space

8:15 – 8:45 PM: CAG Committee Updates
  • Administration Committee
  • Outreach Committee
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee

9:00 PM:  Adjourn

Friday, November 27, 2015

Community Boards' Opinion on Rezoning Not as Important as MINE!: De Blasio

Community Boards' Opinion on Rezoning Not as Important as MINE: De Blasio

"EAST HARLEM — Mayor Bill de Blasio downplayed the role of the city's community boards, which have overwhelmingly rejected his citywide rezoning proposals, saying Monday their opinions are merely advisory as he pushes forward with the controversial plan. The boards, which are appointed by the mayor, City Council and borough presidents, have criticized the rezoning plans as not providing enough housing that is affordable to the actual income levels of people in the neighborhoods and for fear that it would spark more gentrification and overcrowding."

"Other boards fear the plans are too broad and would hurt the character of individual neighborhoods. "They don't have a perfect vantage point on their communities. No one has a perfect vantage point on the whole of a community, but they bring a lot of valuable insight," de Blasio said. "Community Boards are appointed to give input. They give input," the mayor continued. "The folks that are elected by all the people, the council members and the mayor, have to make the final decision."

"The mayor's remarks upset some community board members and borough presidents who worried the mayor would jam the proposals through despite the outcry.
"I think he’s taking that position because we didn’t vote supporting his plan," said Dolores Orr, chairwoman of Queens Community Board 14. "Had we voted in favor of his plan, he would have a different opinion of the community boards."

"The mayor's remarks come as community boards across the city are uniting against zoning changes proposed by his administration that are part of the plan to facilitate the preservation and creation of 200,000 units of affordable housing over the course of the next decade. Under the Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal, the parking requirements for affordable housing would be eliminated while allowing taller building heights to increase affordable housing.

"Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require the construction of affordable housing for projects receiving city land or a subsidy.  The City Planning Commission, of which the mayor appoints the chair and seven of 13 members, and the City Council also must approve the changes.

"Respectfully, if the mayor is going to create affordable housing, he has to think about the people living in each community district," said George Fernandez, chairman of Community Board 12 in Washington Heights. "Because if it’s not for the community, then for who is it?"
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said last week that de Blasio needs to "realize that one size does not fit all" when it comes to zoning.

"In Queens, 12 of 14 boards voted against the zoning text amendments. In The Bronx, eight of 12 boards disapprove so far. Three of five borough community boards have come out against the plan."

"The mayor was unfazed when asked about the rejections Monday, saying "there's often a divergence between the community boards and the council and the mayor" that is "healthy" and "part of democracy." (edit)  ..........................

For more of this article please see

Katie Honan, Eddie Small, Emily Frost and Carolina Pichardo contributed reporting.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Say it Ain't So Mayor DeBlasio! No Towers in Cobble Hill! Sign the Cobble Hill Association Petition!

“We are not embarking on a mission to build towering skyscrapers where they don't belong. We have a duty to protect and preserve the culture and character of our neighborhoods.”


Dear neighbors and friends of Cobble Hill,

Guess who said that last February?! Mayor de Blasio!

But somehow the Mayor has lost his way and now he is supporting building  high-rise towers right next to our historic low-rise brownstone community.

At Wednesday's community meeting, hundreds of our Cobble Hill neighbors and friends made their feelings loud and clear: No towers in Cobble Hill! Our representatives heard our message and they are behind us 100 percent in this truly momentuous effort to stop Fortis Property Group from building their high-rises on the site of the former Long Island College Hospital.

Now we need to make sure Mayor de Blasio hears us, too! Toward that end, we are petitioning Mayor de Blasio to work with us— not against us— in our efforts to significantly downscale the current redevelopment plans. We've already collected hundreds of signatures, but we needs several times that to make an impact.

Please read our petition and-- if you agree— add your vitally-needed voice to our campaign. There are two ways you can participate.
1. Please print out a copy of our petition, sign, and mail to: Cobble Hill Association, 123 Congress Street 11201 (or you can drop through the mail slot).
2. Access and sign our petition online. (Your email will be your signature.)

All the community's signed petitions will be delivered directly to the Mayor's office.

Please sign today! The sooner these petitions reach the Mayor the better!

And THANK YOU! for being a part of our community.


The Cobble Hill Association

P.S. Please share this email with your neighbors. We need to spread the word quickly.


Copyright © 2015 Cobble Hill Association, Inc., All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you attended a past Cobble Hill Association event, sent us an inquiry, or simply told us at some point you'd like to be informed of neighborhood news.

Our mailing address is:
Cobble Hill Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 376
Brooklyn, NY 11201


With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........