Friday, November 21, 2014

Brad Lander's Critical AND FINAL Bridging Gowanus Meeting This Monday/Thanksgiving Week

Hello from CG CORD!

There is a critical meeting to attend this coming Monday!
We know it's Thanksgiving Week and this is a difficult time to attend a meeting but this one is IMPORTANT!

What:     Final "Bridging Gowanus"
When:     Monday, November 24 at 6:30, at 
Where:    PS 32  317 Hoyt St, Brooklyn

There has been a great deal of criticism of how Councilman Brad Lander's Bridging Gowanus process has NOT been democratic, and has NOT been hearing our community voices.

That is why it is important to attend the meeting this Monday.

We agree with PMFA:
"As Councilman Lander is asking us to convene one last time  for Bridging Gowanus, it behooves all of us to come together and to ask him to put his words into action and to give some power back to the community.
We should all demand a process of validation at the end of Bridging Gowanus.  Is the document really a reflection of what the community envisioned at the meetings?  We should be able to vote to make sure of that.

Bridging Gowanus could be the beginning of so much.  It could be a new forward-thinking, true democratic community planning process. Let's see if Councilman Brad, who prides himself on giving power (and a vote) back to the people through Participatory Budgeting, is courageous enough  to give his Gowanus constituents a real voice." PMFA

CG CORD

FOR MORE INFO PLEASE READ:

Of Councilman Brad Lander, Pratt Center for Community Development, and the Final Bridging Gowanus Meeting Next Monday
http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2014/11/of-councilman-brad-lander-pratt-center.html

LINKS to Other "Take Back Gowanus" Stories

On-air 
The Brian Lehrer Show:  Taking Back the Gowanus Canal
WNYC story about Gowanus that aired recently 

Gowanus Residents Debate Future of Area

Disparate Factions Unite to Take Back Gowanus From Overdevelopment

Take Back Gowanus Challenges Brad Lander's "Shared Values"


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting: Think Health, Think Environment and then Think of a BIGGER and BETTER Gowanus Canal Area Post-EPA Clean-Up


Hello from CG CORD!
Above:  Riverbank State Park Olympic Size Swimming Pool
679 Riverside Drive Manhattan, NY

Here is our report on the meeting of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) from last week with much new information interspersed.

As we said, Tuesday, October 28th, the General Meeting of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) was held at the St Mary's Residences.

EPA Project Manager/Engineer Christos Tsiamis came to speak with the CAG to dispel some of the inaccurate and misleading information that has recently been circulated regarding  the  toxic contamination in and around the Thomas Greene Park and particularly, its pool and the role of the EPA.  

He mentioned the Gowanus Canal Competition Winners at http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/02/14/gowanus_canal_competition_winners_get_creative.php as a creative point of departure for the CAG members to begin to envision the bigger and better future possible for us in the Gowanus area post EPA clean-up.

For whatever reason, there is a fear amongst the residents who live closest to the pool that they will lose the pool completely and permanently if it is determined that the well documented contamination lurking beneath the pool requires that it be removed for a proper and healthy cleanup of the land.  

Maria Pagano, a CAG member representing the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, brought up that she has been informed that a replacement pool would cost in the neighborhood of  sixty million dollars ($60,000,000) and implied that the cost would eliminate the possibility of that replacement. (THAT MUST BE SOME POOL THE CITY LOOKED AT AS A COST BASE!)

So, therefore, the advocates for the park are so fearful of losing an amenity that they think may not be replaced  that they opt for a lesser cleanup of the place their children play????? 
CORD does not understand this logic.

Why would "advocates" for the park and pool ask for less of a cleanup rather than more?
Why would these advocates not be screaming at the top of their lungs for the cleanest, safest, healthiest environment for those who most enjoy the park and pool?

Witness Riverbank State Park in Manhattan, a 28 acre park built on top of a sewage treatment facility complete with an olympic sized  swimming pool and a skating rink.  http://nysparks.com/parks/93/details.aspx  (See pool image above)

Seeing that last Tuesday was Election Day, and so few people turned out to vote, perhaps it is the time for all of us to reflect upon what election day and CHOICE really means.  Often, Election Day is just a confusing jumble of information, mailings, TV ads, phone calls and hand shaking from strangers.  The ads, in one way or another, spend their time telling us why one candidate is no good for us while the other is perfect for us.

We try to care but the truth is, we mostly feel removed, powerless and inconsequential.
Well, we should make a conscious decision that from now on, WE elect, WE choose US because  WE are best for US.

What does that mean? It means that we choose common sense. It means that we say, in unison,  the area under and around the park is contaminated---especially under the pool which Mr. Tsiamis pointed out has in some places lakes and deep puddles of this dangerous, toxic goo.

It means we elect say---NY State--you are responsible for the actual cleanup of this site. WE want and deseve the BEST and most thorough cleanup not some quasi spit and a prayer.   
It means we elect to say--National Grid--you are the responsible party for the pollution of this site and should not only remediate as you are supposed to do but help replace any of the amenities--- think of it as another "Cinderella Project".

To clearly envision what we mean check out any of these great examples: 

The Manayunk Sewer Basin Project in Philadelphia
the Juan Solomon City Pari in Indianapolis
and Venice Island in Philadelphia
http://gizmodo.com/philadelphias-newest-park-is-built-on-top-of-a-sewage-o-1647780534?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+gizmodo%2Ffull+%28Gizmodo%29

It means we ELECT to say to the City of New York---you chose to build a park on this site. 

You chose to MAINTAIN and help MAKE IMPROVEMENTS to this site--even when you were aware that there was a strong probability of contamination that eventually would have to be remediated. Now--- CLEAN IT UP PROPERLY AND REPLACE and IMPROVE, ANY AMENITIES THAT ARE TEMPORARILY CLOSED DUE TO THE CLEANUP.

Please click the links above to see what other areas that hold underground retention tanks and even sewage treatment plants now offer above the ground to their community residents.
We found a proof that creativity and purpose can produce some extraordinary results when it comes to turning something that sounds awful into something wonderful.

It means we elect to say that the responsible parties involved here HAVE AN OBLIGATION to set aside those monies now and reveal what they are planning to do for US.
It means we stand together as a community and ELECT to CHOOSE what is best for us...how about a beautiful indoor pool as well as an outdoor one---something that can be enjoyed year round instead of just a couple of months a year?

Let's put our heads together---maybe a beautiful community center- as well--think of the jobs created around such an amenity...Let's think out of the box---let's think BIG
Will it cost? Yes, it will. But the City of NY knows it must pay its share in the cleanup. And part of its share should be that they FULLY REPLACE and improve the amenities that are suspended or removed during the cleanup.

THE EPA is NOT THE ENEMY. They are not looking to take anything--they are here to help keep all of us safer and healthier---

LET'S ELECT to DEMAND THE BEST. Let's starty choosing what we want and make it known....
Let's CHOOSE to put our efforts there instead of looking for ways and means to divide us and have us bicker when we really all want the same thing.....
Let's CHOOSE to stop thinking small----let's CHOOSE to start really thinking about what is safest and best for our community!

WE ARE NOT REMOVED. WE ARE NOT POWERLESS. WE ARE NOT INCONSEQUENTIAL.
WE ELECT OUR COMMUNITY!

If you are truly a friend of Thomas Greene Park---think HEALTH, think ENVIRONMENT, and then THINK BIGGER... Let's work and dream together!

We invite people to share their ideas/visions/hopes/dreams with us for the site/park:
Please email us at cgcord@gmail.com

CG CORD

For more information please see:

"Think With Us:  EPA Provides Bigger Picture in Regards to Siting One of Two Gowanus Retention Tanks"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We Elect Our Community! Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting

Christos Tsiamis, EPA Region 2 Project Manager for Gowansu Canal Superfund Site

Hello from CG CORD!

On Tuesday, October 28th, the General Meeting of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) was held at the St Marys Residences.
EPA Project Manager/Engineer Christos Tsiamis came to speak with the CAG to dispel some of the inaccurate and misleading information that has recently been circulated regarding  the  toxic contamination in and around the Thomas Greene Park and particularly, its pool and the role of the EPA.

For whatever reason, there is a fear amongst the residents who live closest to the pool that they will lose the pool completely and permanently if it is determined that the well documented contamination lurking beneath the pool requires that it be removed for a proper and healthy cleanup of the land.
Maria Pagano, a CAG member representing the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, brought up that she has been informed that a replacement pool would cost in the neighborhood of  sixty million dollars ($60,000,000) and implied that the cost would eliminate the possibility of that replacement. (THAT MUST BE SOME POOL THE CITY LOOKED AT AS A COST BASE!)

So, therefore, the advocates for the park are so fearful of losing an amenity that they think may not be replaced  that they opt for a lesser cleanup of the place their children play????? 
CORD does not understand this logic.
Why would "advocates" for the park and pool ask for less of a cleanup rather than more?
 Why would these advocates not be screaming at the top of their lungs for the cleanest, safest, healthiest environment for those who most enjoy the park and pool?
Seeing that this is Election Day, perhaps it is the time for all of us to reflect upon what election day and choice really means.

Often, Election Day is just a confusing jumble of information, mailings, TV ads, phone calls and hand shaking from strangers.
The ads, in one way or another, spend their time telling us why one candidate is no good for us while the other is perfect for us.
We try to care but the truth is, we mostly feel removed, powerless and inconsequential.
Well, we should make a conscious decision this Election Day that from now on, WE elect, WE choose US because  WE are best for US.
What does that mean? It means that we choose common sense. It means that we say, in unison,  the area under and around the park is contaminated---especially under the pool which Mr. Tsiamis pointed out has in some places lakes and deep puddles of this dangerous, toxic goo.

It means we elect say---NY State--you are responsible for the actual cleanup of this site. WE want and deseve the BEST and most thorough cleanup not some quasi spit and a prayer.   
It means we elect to say--National Grid--you are the responsible party for the pollution of this site and should not only remediate as  you are supposed to do but help replace any of the amenities--- think of it as another "Cinderella Project"
It means we ELECT to say to the City of New York---you chose to build a park on this site. 

You chose to MAINTAIN and help MAKE IMPROVEMENTS to this site--even when you were aware that there was a strong probability of contamination that eventually would have to be remediated. Now--- CLEAN IT UP PROPERLY AND REPLACE and IMPROVE, ANY AMENITIES THAT ARE TEMPORARILY CLOSED DUE TO THE CLEANUP.
It means we elect to say that the responsible parties involved here HAVE AN OBLIGATION to set aside those monies now and reveal what they are planning to do for US.
It means we stand together as a community and ELECT to CHOOSE what is best for us...how about a beautiful indoor pool as well as an outdoor one---something that can be enjoyed year round instead of just a couple of months a year?

Let's put our heads together---maybe a beautiful community center- as well--think of the jobs created around such an amenity...Let's think out of the box---let's think BIG
Will it cost? Yes, it will. But the City of NY knows it must pay its share in the cleanup. And part of its share should be that they FULLY REPLACE and improve the amenities that are suspended or removed during the cleanup.

THE EPA is NOT THE ENEMY. They are not looking to take anything--they are here to help keep all of us safer and healthier---
LET'S ELECT to DEMAND THE BEST. Let's starty choosing what we want and make it known....
Let's CHOOSE to put our efforts there instead of looking for ways and means to divide us and have us bicker when we really all want the same thing.....
Let's CHOOSE to stop thinking small----let's CHOOSE to start really thinking about what is safest and best for our community!

WE ARE NOT REMOVED. WE ARE NOT POWERLESS. WE ARE NOT INCONSEQUENTIAL.
WE ELECT OUR COMMUNITY!

CG CORD

For more information please see:

"Think With Us:  EPA Provides Bigger Picture in Regards to Siting One of Two Gowanus Retention Tanks"

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gowanus Community Represented at People's Climate March



Photos Above:  Courtesy of PMFA Blog

http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2014/09/gowanus-community-represented-at.html

From the PMFA Blog today:
"In the midst of the 300,000+ people who attended the People's Climate March this past Sunday in Manhattan were members of the Gowanus Community. 
Their signs reminded of Hurricane Sandy, the fact that most of the neighborhood is in Flood Zone A and that global warming will have a huge impact on the area.
It was quite impressive how many fellow marchers who had come from all over the country, seemed to respond or ask about the Gowanus. 
Obviously, there is national interest in the area. No doubt, the community is a poster child for all the issues associated with climate change."


http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2014/09/gowanus-community-represented-at.html

Monday, September 15, 2014

Join Gowanus neighbors and friends at The People's Climate March

Join Gowanus neighbors and friends at The People's Climate March


The march is in NYC at 11:00 am on Sunday, September 21st.

To mark the UN Climate Summit, a massive march will take place, beginning at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, and continuing on to 11th Avenue and 14th Street.

Gowanus, Brooklyn is experiencing climate change first hand.

We've seen how frequent, heavier rainfall causes sewage to flow into the canal.
How developers are pressuring city government for more zoning changes to build their large-scale, residential buildings on toxic land, in a flood evacuation zone.

Let's continue to speak up on behalf of the environment and our Gowanus community!

Let's march together on September 21st, under a Gowanus banner, and demand action on local and global climate crisis issues!
 
Meet

Sunday September 21st at Carroll St Station at Smith and 2nd Place
Time: 9:30 AM

We will have a banner and will meet to make signs.

RSVP and for more info: Lisannem@gmail.com or lizzieo@mindspring.com or call Lizzie @ 917-623-9225


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Even ART can not heal broken Gowanus







































Even ART is powerless is the face of Gowanus Canal chemical contamination.

 

















Last night, a group of unaffiliated and highly concerned Gowanus residents staged a silent, community art protest at the ArtBridge art opening held at the contentious Lightstone Development on 2nd and Bond Streets in Carroll Gardens/Gowanus Brookyn.

Residents, including families with young children, donned white masks, with the words "TOXIC PLAN" and "TOXIC LAND" and silently gave out flyers with a list of bullet points in a performance art community protest piece.  Their presence was so calm and seamless that many people attending the art opening mistakenly thought the protest was part of the main event.  The Brooklyn paper referred to it on Friday as a "bohemian face-off."




Many of the community protesters, artists and/or artisans themselves, explained they were not protesting the artists in the exhibition per se, but rather the PRETENSE for the exhibition.  Being creatives themselves, they understand very well that art can be a powerful vehicle to reveal the truth or to conceal it.  Moreover their target was certainly not their fellow artists. 




The Artbridge exhibition, mentioned recently at CURBED, garnered the comment,
“No matter how pretty the art is, nothing can mask what's been going on behind the fence.”  This comment was the general thinking behind last night's event. 

To the locals who live and often work in Gowanus, the Artbridge website words, "Art, we believe, is a powerful connective tissue that helps to reshape and inspire the physical and social character of neighborhoods in transition" ring hollow indeed in an area besieged by both the chemical contamination of the EPA Superfund Designated Gowanus Canal, and the recent Lightstone Development.  ART is not a miracle worker.  Just ask EPA Project Leader for the Gowanus Canal Clean-Up, Christos Tsiamis, a published and highly regarded poet as well as chemical engineer LINK


The Gowanus community has been suffering through a miserable spring and summer this year near the Lightstone Group's development site.  The ginormous Lightsone construction site has been creating untold noise, shaking, noxious odors, and other nuisances since its inception a few months ago, while the Gowanus Canal remediation is in its early stages   LINK.  Residents, community members, and even the EPA have been increasingly frustrated by the official and dismissive response by the city of New York.  The EPA has even written a public and unilateral order to the NYC DEP telling them the city must comply with the ROD. 

Community members note that any construction projects near the Gowanus Canal ahead of the EPA clean-up might stir up unknown contaminants in the brownfield soil that become airborne and could be harmful to human health. On July 21, 2014, the New York Post reported that on "stinky brown goo bubbling up from drains around the Gowanus Canal" LINK

The latest community outrage has been over the extreme smell of gas at the site.  Mounds of petroleum soaked soil are being stockpiled until it is removed, reeking of heavy gas odors that are causing great concern for residents, especially parents of young children as to the possible health hazards of these eye stinging odors.  



Gowanus locals have been reaching out constantly to Councilman Brad Lander's office and to several New York City agencies.  Recently the group: Gowanus Preservation Society aka Take Back Gowanus has been attracting many new members in the Gowanus community and challenging Councilman Lander's vision for the future development of Gowanus as the complex issues embedded in the Gowanus Canal clean-up become clearer and clearer, and clearer than any Gowanus Canal "Poo Poo Tsunami" can dish up.

CG CORD
cgcord@gmail.com


For More Info See:

EPA
Gowanus Canal ROD/Record of Decision
http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/gowanus/pdf/gowanus_rod_qs_as_final.pdf

Gowanus Canal Superfund Designation
www.EPA.gov/region2/superfund/npl/gowanus/ 

EPA Unilateral Order to NYC
http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/gowanus/pdf/gowanus_nyc_rd_order_5_28_2014.pdf to perform Gowanus work

New York Post 
Stinky Brown Goo Bubblin Up from Drains Around the Gowanus CAnal
http://nypost.com/2014/07/21/stinky-brown-goo-bubbling-up-from-drains-around-toxic-canal/

PMFA/Pardon Me for Asking
"A Whole Lot of Noise, Shaking, Toxic Smells, and Traffic Jams at Lightstone Group's Mega Construction Sight in Gowanus"
http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-whole-lot-of-noise-shaking-toxic.html

PMFA/Pardon Me for Asking
"EPA Issues Order to NYC to Perform Gowanus Work"
http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2014/05/epa-issues-order-to-new-york-city-to.html

Brooklyn Paper
"Bohemian Face-Off as Activists Crash Gowanus Art Party"
http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/37/36/dtg-lightstone-art-show-protest-2014-09-05-bk_37_36.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Curbed
"Public Art At Huge Gowanus Site"
http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/08/25/281_union_ave_fully_leased_public_art_at_huge_gowanus_site.php

Gowanus Your Face Off
"Fight for Gowanus"
http://www.gowanusyourfaceoff.com/category/brooklyn-3/gowanus/fight-for-gowanus/

Gowanus Preservation Society
https://www.facebook.com/GowanusPreservation

EPA-DEC Enforcement Agreement http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/33040.html 

"Video of Raw Sewage Spilling Into Canal"  http://www.doobybrain.com/2010/09/27/video-of-raw-sewage-spilling-into-the-gowanus-canal/



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Community's "Take Back Gowanus" vs. Councilman Lander's "Bridging Gowanus"

Hello from CORD!
The Take Back Gowanus meeting held last week on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 7pm at the Green Building, 452 Union Street/Bond exuded passion, concern, knowledge, timely issues, and optimism.

Over 100 people attended this first meeting held at the Green Room and put together by a consortium of neighborhood groups including:  Friends And Residents Of Greater GowanusVoice Of GowanusCarroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development, and Save Kentile,

Take Back Gowanus (now called the Gowanus Preservation Society) was created as an alternative to the sterile, scripted, and manipulative "Bridging Gowanus" meetings organized by Councilman Brad Lander in which the constituents of Councilman Lander have been feeling shut out of any meaningful decision making or planning for the future of Gowanus.  Instead the community has been feeling rather coddled by a Councilman who clearly has his own agenda with the Gowanus Canal re-development plan.

“The year-long process was touted as a real chance for community stakeholders to jointly shape a vision for the future of the neighborhood.  In reality, the "Bridging Gowanus" community meetings have been highly curated affairs, seemingly designed to divide stakeholders at small group tables, making a more inclusionary discussion impossible. Facilitators at each table stuck to rigid scripts that seemed expressly designed to get specific comments and a pre-determined outcome.”  (PMFA Link)

On the other hand Take Back Gowanus strove to
“allow the community to engage in a real, honest conversation and to demand a real collaboration between our community and the City of New York.” (PMFA Link)


The result was a Take Back Gowanus meeting that was participatory and thus lively, thought provoking, and even messy at times, as any truly democratic process always is.

We at CORD hope this first meeting is just the beginning of what will be an organized and concerted effort on the part of the community to become a part of the Gowanus decision making process.  In the very near future Councilman Lander will present the community with a plan for the Gowanus that looks unlikely to warm the hearts of many current residents, business owners, and constituents in the Gowanus Area.  The plan for a corridor of high rise residential buildings (likely to be rental units) along the Gowanus looks like a real possibility unless the community can mobilize to stop it.

Among other things the Take Back Gowanus community favors: 
  • maintaining and allowing expansion of manufacturing and business
  • repurposing/reusing current structures 
  • human scale development
  • contextual development to truly BRIDGE the Carroll Gardens and Park Slope neighborhoods 
  • no high rises or topographical changes on the banks of the Gowanus which is also in the flood Zone A and must be evacuated in emergencies.
The only way to prevent such a plan (by Councilam Lander) from occurring is with a concerted and coordinated community effort to stem the tide.  This means real footwork such as demanding a combined hydrological study/ infrastructure analysis be conducted by the proper authorities so that we can assess our current needs and our situation.  

We call  on our electeds to demand a comprehensive study analyzing what it is we are lacking now in the present moment.

  • For example, why is sewage rising in our neighbors' sinks? 
  • What improvements are needed to meet our current situation? 
  • What improvements will be necessary in order to grow? 
  • Only once equipped with this vital information should we move forward. 

A thoughtful analysis of these questions is in order and hopefully the attendees at the meeting last week are up to this task and are ready to dive in to getting some answers!

CG CORD


LINKS to Other "Take Back Gowanus" Stories

On-air 
The Brian Lehrer Show:  Taking Back the Gowanus Canal
WNYC story about Gowanus that aired recently 

Gowanus Residents Debate Future of Area

Disparate Factions Unite to Take Back Gowanus From Overdevelopment

Take Back Gowanus Challenges Brad Lander's "Shared Values"

CORD HISTORY:

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........

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?crlgrdns