Gowanus

Planning for the future of Gowanus

When we launched the “Bridging Gowanus” community planning process a year ago, we knew we were taking on a big challenge. 

We’ve seen (and smelled) the fetid water after a rainfall.  I was there when it flooded its banks during Hurricane Sandy.  And we knew these toxic waters might seem still compared to asking Brooklynites to debate too-often-polarizing questions about development, density, infrastructure, industry, and housing. 

But deciding not to engage seemed worse.  Should we just wait and let developers make plans of their own (or pretend that they won’t)?  Should we allow hotels, big-box stores, and self-storage facilities (all currently allowed “as-of-right” throughout the Gowanus) overrun the whole area?  Should we miss the opportunity to frame the community’s priorities for the new mayoral administration? Read more »

A Flood of Compassion … But Not Much Justice

By Lisa Cowan (Red Hook Initiative) and Brad Lander (New York City Council)

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy darkened the skyline and changed the lives of so many of our neighbors.  This week’s anniversary calls to mind the crowds who waited for food and supplies in Red Hook, the cars full of baked ziti and batteries dispatched to Coney Island, Staten Island, and the Rockaways, the gas station lines, and the rows upon rows of cots for hundreds of evacuees at the Park Slope Armory (and so many other places). Read more »

Final cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal

It’s a big moment for Gowanus. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its final Superfund cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal

I long believed that Superfund designation was the right move for the Gowanus – to ensure that it got the time and focus it needed. And with this plan, we have taken a major step forward toward a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Gowanus Canal. Read more »

We want your ideas

Two years ago, we tried something new. New Yorkers were given the power to decide how to spend tax dollars on projects in their neighborhood.

That idea, Participatory Budgeting, has been a huge success. Thousands of neighbors have given ideas, joined committees to develop proposals, and come out to vote. Based on your votes, we’ve funded 15 projects. And, even more importantly, we’ve seen a new excitement for local democracy. The New York Times called it “revolutionary civics in action.” And now participatory budgeting has spread to nine City Council districts across the city. Read more »

Our City's budget, and our values

Last week was a busy one at City Hall. We passed two important police reform bills (more on those here), overrode the mayor’s veto of legislation that will guarantee paid sick days for a million more New York workers, and we passed the City’s FY2014 budget, for the fiscal year that begins today (for good measure, we also passed a bill to “save brunch,” which had apparently become threatened due to an outdated law).

In budget negotiations, we were able restore the essential public services proposed for cuts by Mayor Bloomberg. Libraries will keep their full hours. Low-income families will keep their childcare. Our neighborhood firehouses, parks, and pools will remain open. You can access all the details of the City’s FY2014 budget here, and on those areas where the Council focused on restorations and additions here. Read more »