Save the Date: Planning for Resiliency and Sustainability in Gowanus
The second public meeting in the NYC Department of City Planning’s Gowanus PLACES study will focus on grounding our planning work in the critical issues of resiliency and sustainability – including the risks of flooding (from sea level rise, storm surge, and rain), the EPA’s Superfund cleanup, and what we can do to make Gowanus a model of environmental sustainability.
For the better part of two centuries, the Gowanus Canal functioned as both sewer and symbol of our country’s environmental neglect, as industrial pollution, the toxic waste of making energy through coal gasification, and combined sewer overflows (CSOs) poured into the Canal. The dissolved oxygen level in the Canal reached zero in about 1904, and stayed that way for most of the past century.
More recently, during Hurricane Sandy, we saw the Gowanus flood its banks, damaging homes and great businesses like Architectural Grille. And it’s not only during superstorms – currently, 9th Street floods in almost any significant rain.
We’ve made some progress in recent years. New York City restored the flushing tunnel, which pumps clean water into the canal. The EPA’s Superfund cleanup will dredge the toxic sludge and reduce the CSOs. New rules require that any new construction is far more resilient and sustainable than existing buildings. NYC DEP’s “High Level Storm Sewer” project will reduce CSOs and help address flooding from rain.
Now, we must use the Gowanus planning process to do even more. Making sure Gowanus is a sustainable, resilient, environmentally healthy community was one of the top goals in our Bridging Gowanus community planning framework, and we need to make sure that becomes a reality.
At the meeting we’ll hear from the NYC Department of City Planning, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency, and the Mayors’ Office of Sustainability, about a wide range of topics including:
- EPA Superfund cleanup
- Flood protection investments
- Building resiliency requirements
- Opportunities for waste reduction, renewable energy, and more
We’ll also hear from community and environmental groups – and from you – about what steps we could take to make Gowanus a model of sustainability. How could we make Gowanus a “zero waste” community? Can we plan for the community in a way that reduces car trips? How can we maximize renewable energy?
In Gowanus, we have the opportunity to move from a tarnished legacy of two centuries of industrial pollution, to a sustainable community that reduces impact on the planet, plans for resiliency in the face of rising sea levels in the coming decades, and addresses the two existential challenges of our time: climate change and inequality.
Hope to see you on December 8th.
In the meantime, best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving. For me personally, focusing at this moment on what we are thankful for, still and always, feels like an urgent need.
The opportunity to work together with you – as stewards of our neighborhood and our environment for the coming decade – is one of the blessings for which I’ll be giving thanks.