Whose visions for Gowanus? Come take a look.

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?

For the past two years, we have been grappling with those 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:

  • Upfront investments in sustainable infrastructure
  • Making sure manufacturing can thrive (and residents benefit)
  • A genuine Gowanus mix of uses
  • Preserve and create affordable housing
  • A pathway for responsible growth

We’ve recently updated the Bridging Gowanus website to include the dozens of public comments we received. They don’t all agree, of course – especially around whether, where, and at what scale to allow new residential development. Some commenters strongly oppose new housing at heights taller than the surrounding brownstone neighborhoods. Others see it as necessary to achieve the community’s range of goals.

We don’t have all the answers. But Bridging Gowanus has provided a strong start. I hope you'll take a look at the shared vision for Gowanus we’ve worked together to develop.

Meanwhile, a lot of work is happening on the ground to put these shared values into action. In the coming months I’ll be giving you updates about many areas where we are already seeing progress: including flood mitigation, cleaning up the canal, improving parks and open spaces, maintaining affordability, new businesses, an expanding arts community, and much more.

If you want a firsthand look at some of what’s been happening, I encourage you to join me this Sunday for a walking tour of new Gowanus public art. You’ll see this mural (titled “Industry & Ecology), have a chance to sit on this piece of sculpture, and see the other 5 pieces created through a program that Arts Gowanus, Old Stone House, and Groundswell Mural produced, funded by my office.

While we walk, we’ll have a chance to talk about the challenges and opportunities we face in Gowanus … and how we can work together in the coming months and years to get them right. And maybe we’ll recreate the New Yorker cover with our own canal-side selfie, that better captures our vision for what Gowanus can be.

Hope you’ll join us! Please click here to RSVP.

Brad

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