Gowanus

Bridging Gowanus: A Brief Introduction

For the past two years, we have been grappling with important questions through the “Bridging Gowanus” community planning process. Across dozens of meetings, more than 300 stakeholders – including long-time and newer homeowners, tenants, and NYCHA residents, small business owners, environmental activists, artists, affordable housing advocates – identified broadly-shared goals, discussed diverse viewpoints, and built consensus around a planning framework for the Gowanus area. The complete Bridging Gowanus Community Planning Framework is available here

The issues we face in Gowanus are serious ones: How do we confront the legacy of industrial pollution, and the challenges of climate change and resiliency? How can we create inclusive neighborhoods – with room for working- and middle-class families, for public housing, for artists, for manufacturing – amidst skyrocketing real estate values? What’s the right balance of housing and jobs? Can we preserve, (or even strengthen) the mixed-use, eclectic, creative character of the neighborhood amidst change?

The posts below are intended to provide a series of updates on issues facing Gowanus, including describing the work that’s been done to make progress, and outline the work that remains. Read more »

PBNYC 2016 Ballot is here: What will you choose?

You’re going to get a lot of chances to vote this year – the Presidential primary in April, the State legislative primary in September, and the General Election in November.

But only one ballot contains 13 fantastic local projects to improve our schools, parks, libraries, streets and transit: the PBNYC 2016 ballot for our district is here, and its time to get ready to vote on how you want to spend $1.5 million. Read more »

Don’t drive into the Gowanus. Help us improve the parks instead!

First things first: don’t drive your car into the Gowanus Canal – as an out-of-state, hit-and-run driver did over the weekend, after he hit a parked car and slightly injured a woman and her infant daughter (all three of them are going to be fine, and he was taken into custody).

A better way to get involved in Gowanus: work with us to improve the parks and open space in the neighborhood.  

As one part of my office’s “Bridging Gowanus” initiative, we’re working to create, upgrade, and connect public open space throughout the neighborhood. The long-term goal is a “Gowanus Greenscape” that would connect a series of parks, plazas, canal-front open space, safe places to walk and bike, public art, and a clean, publicly-accessible canal.

We’ve got a long way to go toward that vision, but – thanks to the work of some great partners, especially the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Alliance, and Gowanus by Design – we’re off to a great start. Read more »

Ennis Playground – What’s your vision?

You might have seen that that last year, my office—together with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams—allocated $1.85 million in public funding to renovate Ennis Playground -- located between 11th & 12th Streets and 2nd & 3rd Avenues in Gowanus. We’re working together with the NYC Parks Department to upgrade the entire park over the next few years, including the children’s play area, basketball courts, and seating area. Read more »

Gowanus Canal Clean Up Update

Update: On April 15, 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reached in agreement on the location of two sewage and stormwater retention tanks in Gowanus: an eight-million gallon tank will be built on privately-owned property along the Canal, between Butler and Degraw Streets, and a smaller four-million gallon tank will be located on a City-owned property at 2nd Avenue and 5th Streets. You can read the full agreement here.

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Black mayonnaise. Poo-nami.  Rumors of a three-eyed catfish.  

I know this update isn’t well-themed for the holiday season – I’m not aware of any Christmas carols about “combined sewer overflows” – but we wanted to give you an end-of-year update on the work to clean up the Gowanus Canal.

The Gowanus Canal has been deeply polluted for more than a century, making it a long-time source of local lore—and cringe-inducing headlines.

However, since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated the canal as a “Superfund” site in 2010 (after longstanding advocacy by many local leaders), the Federal, State, and City government have all committed significant resources to reversing many decades of environmental degradation and neglect. Projects are underway that will, over the next several years: dredge the toxic sludge at the bottom of the waterway, curtail its use as an open sewer, remediate the land nearby, and minimize neighborhood flooding.

Here’s some of the progress toward a cleaner Gowanus that we’ve seen in the past year: Read more »

#AnnotateNYC (my first trip to genius.com)

Earlier this month, I had the chance to visit the new genius.com HQ (on 3rd Street between Hoyt & Bond, just a few steps from the Gowanus Canal).

genius.com (aka rapgenius.com) allows users to annotate & interpret song lyrics, news stories, and any other form of text on the web.  It was launched in 2009 with a focus on hip-hop lyrics, and expanded in 2014 to cover other forms of media. This year, they moved to Gowanus, so I went by to check it out.

Although I’m not certainly not a hip-hop connoisseur, I love the idea of a community of people annotating, interpreting, and arguing about text. It’s a lot like an online version of the Talmud. Or a University of Chicago seminar. Or a committee mark-up of a piece of legislation.

So I’ve signed up, and tried my hand at my first two annotations. Read more »

More New Plans for St. Mary’s Playground

As you might have seen earlier this year, a major reconstruction is in the works for St. Mary’s Playground (under the F and G tracks, along Smith Street from Luquer to Huntington Streets).

The park has long been closed, due to MTA’s rehabilitation of the Culver Viaduct and nearby Smith 9th Street station. But with that work largely complete, we’re working to bring it back!

On Wednesday night, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation will present their preliminary design for the northern half of St. Mary’s Playground (between Luquer and Nelson Streets) at the Brooklyn Community Board 6 Parks Committee: Read more »

NYC to Build New 180-Student Pre-K Center on Border of Park Slope and Gowanus

For Immediate Release:

NYC to Build New 180-Student Pre-K Center on Border of Park Slope and Gowanus

School Construction Authority Advances Plans for New Pre-K Center on 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues

Proposed Facility Builds on Ongoing Effort by City and Elected Officials to Advance “Pre-K for All” and Address School Overcrowding in District 15

Brooklyn, NY – The NYC School Construction Authority has proposed constructing a new Pre-K center near the border of Park Slope and Gowanus, Council Member Brad Lander announced today. The proposed school, which would seat approximately 180 four year-olds, is planned for the vacant lot next to an American Legion post on 9th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues. The SCA is beginning the public review process, and will accept public comments on the site until December 13th.

Read more »

#KeepGowanusCreative

For the many artists and friends of the arts in Gowanus, this is a month of both celebration and protest.

The celebration: This weekend will be the biggest-ever Gowanus Open Studios (produced by Arts Gowanus), with over 300 participating artists, special events, and tours. It has become one of the premier community arts events in NYC, and a real celebration of creativity and community. I hope to see you there.  

The protest: Many artists in the complex at 9th Street and 2nd Avenue (a haven of painters, musicians, graphic novelists, woodworkers, and much more) will be participating in Gowanus Open Studios for the last time, as they are being kicked out of their studios by landlords who care more about their profit than about creativity or community.   Read more »

Whose visions for Gowanus? Come take a look.

You may have seen the recent New Yorker cover on Gowanus, in which artist Adrian Tomine makes fun of “people eating their organic kale and quinoa salads while gazing across the opaque, fetid water.” It’s a funny cover, and it’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves (and our neighbors). And there are certainly many ironic contradictions around the Gowanus Canal these days.   

But the issues we face in Gowanus are serious ones: How do we confront the legacy of industrial pollution, and the challenges of climate change and resiliency? How can we create inclusive neighborhoods – with room for working- and middle-class families, for public housing, for artists, for manufacturing – amidst skyrocketing real estate values? What’s the right balance of housing and jobs? Can we preserve, (or even strengthen) the mixed-use, eclectic, creative character of the neighborhood amidst change? Read more »