Gowanus

From the depths of the Gowanus Canal...

Yesterday afternoon, the EPA dipped their toes—or, more accurately, a 100,000-pound hydraulic excavator—into the depths of the Gowanus Canal, and began removing the decades of debris that has accumulated there.

Looking into those dark waters, we’ve all wondered what lies beneath. This week we'll start to find out: from sunken vessels, to discarded tires and bikes, and at least one very wet art project. (For more detail, here is a fact sheet from the EPA.)

Here on dry land, we are moving forward to answer questions about the Gowanus Canal area by coming together to shape its future. This Thursday evening, the NYC Department of City Planning will hold a kick-off meeting to introduce their Gowanus neighborhood planning study (or “PLACES” study), which will build upon the ground work our community laid together through the Bridging Gowanus community planning process. Read more »

Save the Date: Kick-Off of Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Process

Over the past three years, neighborhood leaders, community groups, elected officials, and hundreds of you have come together to envision a sustainable, livable, and inclusive future for the area around the Gowanus Canal. The "Bridging Gowanus" community planning process has laid a solid foundation of thoughtful, community-led planning and strong public action to shape our neighborhood.

Now, beginning this fall, the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) will convene a series of conversations in our community—to build upon our work together though Bridging Gowanus, and develop plans for the future of the area. On Thursday October 27, DCP will host a kick-off meeting for the Gowanus neighborhood planning study: 

Kick-Off Meeting: Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study
with the NYC Department of City Planning
Thursday October 27th at 6:30 pm
PS 32 – 317 Hoyt St, at Union St
More information here  (under “How can I get involved?”) Read more »

The future we want for Gowanus: help us get there

A few short years ago, the future for Gowanus looked bleak. The canal was toxic, with no plan to clean it up. Businesses were on the decline. New housing on 4th Avenue displaced existing residents, was zero percent affordable, and featured ground-floor parking garage grilles blighting the streetscape.

We’re making some genuine progress. Thanks to the EPA’s Superfund process, a real cleanup is on the way. New businesses are springing up – light manufacturing, artists, materials re-use, co-working, and more. We’ve got funding in the budget for new parks and schools.  

Now, we face new challenges. Real estate pressures threaten manufacturing businesses, artists, and affordable housing. Current trends will yield more hotels, self-storage facilities, and big-box stores which do little to strengthen our neighborhood. Long-term disinvestment in infrastructure means streets that flood, dilapidated public housing, and a continued need for schools, open space, and transit.

So the next steps – in shaping the future for Gowanus we want – are up to us. Read more »

Springtime in Gowanus: Big steps forward toward a healthier canal

At the end of 2015, I wrote to you with a (rather in depth) update on the Gowanus Canal cleanup. I’m happy to report that, this month, we took another big step forward toward a healthier canal. We are also working hard to involve community members in the cleanup efforts

As part of the Superfund cleanup process, the EPA has required that the City of New York construct two large sewage retention tanks in Gowanus—in order to dramatically reduce the amount of sewage that flows into the canal when it rains. On April 15, the EPA and the City announced a proposed agreement on the location of those tanks: 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. Read more »

Local Elected Officials Welcome EPA/DEP Agreement on Gowanus CSO Retention Tanks

For Immediate Release                                                                                              April 22, 2016

 

Local Elected Officials Issue Statement Welcoming Agreement between U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and NYC Department of Environmental Protection on Gowanus CSO Retention Tanks:

Will Dramatically Reduce Sewage Flowing Into the Canal While Fully Preserving Thomas Greene Park and Increasing Open Space

BROOKLYN, NY -- In advance of a public meeting on Monday, April 25, New York City Council Member Brad Lander, New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, and New York State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, issued the following statement:

"We welcome the agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on the location of two sewage and stormwater retention tanks in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Construction of these two large retention tanks is an essential component of the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup, to reverse over a century of environmental degradation and neglect that made the Gowanus Canal one of the most contaminated water bodies in the country. Together, the two retention tanks will achieve an estimated reduction of 58 to 78 percent of the combined sewage discharges (CSO) that flow into the Gowanus Canal today. 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 »