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Thread: The Gowanus Canal

  1. #46


    Quote Originally Posted by ladybean View Post
    I am not talking about pollution, I am talking about the lame efforts to revive a community that everyone turned a blind eye toward 20 years ago when there was no glimmer of hope..
    What do you propose be done with the canal?

  2. #47


    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Shop steward.
    Here... or in the union?

  3. #48

    Default Simple but effective

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    What do you propose be done with the canal?
    Why is it so impossible to just clean it up? Healthier doesn't HAVE to mean restructuring the surrounding areas. Remove the trash and such... low crime shouldn't have to mean high rent either. There are options out there to make a median of the situation rather than jumping from one extreme to another. Clean isn't necessarily bad but when it means uprooting people to create some picturesque recreation place for other people... it makes you wonder if this is even about the environment or creating an oasis to get rich off of in a place where it's cheap to build it.

  4. #49


    Quote Originally Posted by ladybean View Post
    creating an oasis to get rich off of in a place where it's cheap to build it.
    That's not true.

    Building here will be expensive. Environmental remediation of the surrounding land will cost hundreds of millions.

  5. #50

    Default Who's the sugar daddy?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    That's not true.

    Building here will be expensive. Environmental remediation of the surrounding land will cost hundreds of millions.
    I guess that is all the more proof of why the bankers expect to make a buck off the resulting project. Chances are they only want to spend that much to make it back, no one puts out that much effort in America, NY especially, unless they intend to get something in return.

  6. #51


    Sort of like how the canal was built. Sort of like how the neighborhood was built. Sort of like how NY was built.

    Your posts are rambling and unfocused. What EXACTLY do you want to be done?

    Just clean the canal? How does that get paid for?

    Leave the surrounding land unused? That's a waste.

    Park? Low income housing? Mixed use? What?

  7. #52


    Gowanus Canal

    The Cleanup After the Cleanup

    Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
    The famous smell still lingers, but plans are afoot to make it fainter.

    Published: November 18, 2007

    THE year 1999 seemed to mark the end of an era for the Gowanus Canal, and a smelly era it was. In summers past, said Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6 in Brooklyn, “the odor would curl your toes.”
    All that changed when the city replaced a long-broken propeller, flushing the canal with clean harbor water through an underwater tunnel. Within months, blue crabs and jellyfish arrived, the smell abated, and developers like Shaya Boymelgreen and the Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers acquired land near the banks.

    But the canal has since undergone bout after bout of bad publicity. Neighbors have complained of geysers of water — the back flow when the canal floods — capable of lifting manhole covers on nearby streets. A group of biology students at the New York City College of Technology found gonorrhea in a water sample. And the canal’s smell, while weaker, is far from gone.

    A new $125 million project, announced piecemeal over the last few months by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, is designed to address these problems. Starting in July, the city will widen the tunnel that brings harbor water into the canal, and install three pumps to replace the propeller, which turned out to be inefficient and prone to corrosion.

    The city will also redirect to a treatment plant about 120 million of the roughly 370 million gallons of sewer overflow dumped in the canal every year. Ten to 20 percent of that mixture is untreated sewage.

    Some parts of the project, such as the tunnel widening and pump installation, will be completed by 2012; for other parts, no date has been set. But when the project is finished, nearly all the canal water should contain enough dissolved oxygen to allow fish to breed, which is a key measure of cleanliness.

    “Our intention in 1999 was just to reduce that smell,” said Kevin Clarke, an official of the environmental agency. “By that measure, we’ve been successful. But now we’re giving it a tweak.”

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company.
    Last edited by brianac; November 18th, 2007 at 04:05 AM.

  8. #53


    “Our intention in 1999 was just to reduce that smell,” said Kevin Clarke, an official of the environmental agency. “By that measure, we’ve been successful. But now we’re giving it a tweak.”

    The city will also redirect to a treatment plant about 120 million of the roughly 370 million gallons of sewer overflow dumped in the canal every year. Ten to 20 percent of that mixture is untreated sewage.

    What an improvement.

    1999 to 2012. Thirteen years, and the flow of s**t into the canal is reduced to only 250 million gallons a year.

    Some improvement.

    Why is this thread in "New York City Guide for Visitors"?

    I would think this is the last thing visitors would like to read about.
    Last edited by brianac; November 18th, 2007 at 04:02 AM.

  9. #54


    February 29, 2008

    Gowanus as a National Historic Landmark?

    Grand Central Terminal. The Brooklyn Bridge. The Woolworth Building. The Gowanus Canal. Which of these does not belong? Yep, that's right, it's the Brooklyn Bridge. No, just kidding, it's actually the Gowanus Canal, the only one that hasn't been named a National Historic Landmark...yet. The Gowanus

    Canal Conservancy is currently spearheading a drive to get the canal named a national historic landmark district, a designation that could be a "useful tool" in terms of getting funding for the canal's cleanup, according to Bob Zuckerman, the GCC's executive director. "Right smack in the middle of brownstone Brooklyn, the canal has a history all its own," says Zuckerman, noting that the transformation of the Gowanus from a series of creeks to its role in aiding industry make the waterway historically significant. Zuckerman says there's precedent for a canal being designated a national historic landmark district: The Erie and Ohio Canal is one, for example. The proposed district will include the canal, the Gowanus pumping station and flushing tunnel, the Carroll Street Bridge (which is already a city landmark), as well as five buildings along the Gowanus. A Pratt student and former GCC intern is now preparing a report about the hoped-for landmark status, and Zuckerman says the conservancy will begin making moves to get the district recognized in the coming months.

    Posted by Gabby at 9:30 AM | Comments (23)
    Categories: Gowanus, Historic District

    Copyright 2008 The New York Observer.

  10. #55


    Not In Our Back Canal!
    Residents Hear Out Toll Brothers on Gowanus Project

    byLysandra Ohrstrom
    March 4, 2008

    The vice president of Toll Brothers David Von Spreckelsen and another company representative unexpectedly appeared at a neighborhood meeting in Gowanus, Brooklyn, last night to defend the 575-unit residential project the builders plan to develop along the polluted canal.

    Friends of Bond Street organized the meeting to rally public opposition to Toll Brothers' planned development before the public scope hearing takes place next week.

    At last night’s meeting, Toll Brothers revealed that it would not close on the two plots it intended to build on until its application for residential land use is approved ahead of the wider rezoning planned for the entire Gowanus Canal area.

    Brooklyn Planning Director Purnima Kapurtold the Gowanus Lounge blog that a rezoning draft plan for the entire area should be ready by late spring or early summer.

    Carrol Gardens residents are concerned about the impact both the Toll Brothers' project and the residential rezoning will have on the already overcrowded subway system, local retail, and the overtaxed sewage system.

    Toll Brothers did allay concerns about cleaning up the oil spill, Brownstoner reported. "We would not be able to sell one condo at this site unless we properly remediated it," Mr. Von Spreckelsen told the meeting.

    Queens Councilman Tony Avella, who heads the Zoning and Franchises Committee, also showed up last night and told The Observer this afternoon that he expects City Council to approve Toll Brothers' land use request.

    “Unfortunately the Council has been very friendly to developers,” Mr. Avella said. “The real estate community controls what’s going on in the city and what’s on the Council’s agenda. I believe that the people should have a greater say in what happens with their community... The present system works from the top down.”

    Copyright 2008 The New York Observer.

  11. #56


    March 28, 2008

    Click link for renderings.

    Reps From Toll Brothers Detail Big Gowanus Development

    Last night representatives from the Toll Brothers made a presentation to Community Board 6 about the company’s proposal to build a large development next to the Gowanus Canal. About 45 people showed up to the meeting, and there was a notable lack of vitriol towards a project that’s stirred quite a bit of controversy at other meetings. As one would expect—or at least hope—from a powerful national real estate firm, Toll’s presentation was polished and addressed many facets of the company’s plans, including the overall scope of the project and how the company intends to deal with environmental issues at the site. Some highlights:

    Housing/Built Component: The multi-building, GreenbergFarrow-designed project between the canal, Bond Street, and Carroll and 2nd Street will have 450 units, 30 percent of which Toll wants to set aside as affordable for residents earning only up to 60 percent of the area median income. The affordable component will be rental and L&M Equity will oversee its development, not Toll. The remaining units will be condo, and at bare minimum will attain LEED certification. The affordable rentals will be clustered on the Bond Street side of the development. In terms of density, the project's buildings will get taller as they get closer to the canal, going from six stories near Bond to 12 stories near the canal. There will 268 parking spaces.

    Environmental Concerns: An environmental consultant for Toll said the company’s done one Phase 1 environmental assessment and three separate Phase 2 assessments that included collecting 59 soil and groundwater samples. They found petroleum-related compounds and compounds typically associated with urban infill materials, but no evidence of a large plume of oil. The remediation of the property will involve soil removal and capping. Toll VP David Von Spreckelsen noted that bringing residents to the edge of the canal would also likely have a positive effect on cleanup of the waterway.

    Park Area: In addition to building two residential courtyards and planting trees around the entire development, landscape architect Lee Weintraub has designed a public park space next to the canal. It is unclear whether Toll or the Parks Dept. will be in charge of maintaining the space. Weintraub said the park will “be more than just an esplanade.”

    Rezoning: Toll’s development, which conforms to the specs City Planning has generated in its preliminary framework for rezoning the Gowanus corridor, needs to go through ULURP since it leapfrogs the wider rezoning. “We don’t know what the timeframe is on the rezoning,” said Von Spreckelsen. “We’re concerned that an area-wide rezoning might not happen in this administration and that with a new administration there might not be as much impetus to rezone.”

    Reactions: Although commentary from those in attendance last night was largely civil, there were a lot of questions and concerns raised about exactly how the site’s remediation will occur and how the development will affect infrastructure, such as the sewer system. Meanwhile, Councilmember Bill de Blasio said “we have to think” about whether allowing the project to jump ahead of the larger rezoning “is the right thing to do.”

    Copyright 2008 Brownstoner.

  12. #57



    Do you think this thread should be moved to the Brooklyn section?

    It's not really for visitors.

  13. #58


    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Gowanus Rising: New Development, Rezoning & Other Issues

    It's been an eventful, if not tumultuous month or two, for the Gowanus Canal and Gowanus. Last week, the Hudson Companies was picked to develop the polluted Public Place site. Earlier, Toll Brothers unveiled their plan for a big Gowanus development and their intention to leapfrog the city planning process. A new gallery opened on Bond Street a couple of weeks ago and the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment unveiled its new headquarters on Seventh Street on Friday. Then, there is the Gowanus Hotel District, fully chronicled and mapped out by Brownstoner. And, there is more in the pipeline, with major properties on the market for tens of millions of dollars.

    When we spoke with him last week, Council Member Bill de Blasio said he was confident that some of the big developments on the drawing board--like the Toll Brothers and Gowanus Green projects--could go forward. "The odds are still good for them," he said. "This particular area is so appealing on so many levels." He said that Public Place enjoys the "advantage of publicly-owned land" and that it would spark a "cleanup waiting for decades to happen." As for the Toll Brothers, who seek to circumvent the ongoing zoning process, he said, "the jury is still out on whether they should be able to move forward" ahead of the overall zoning. He said the project had "some good elements" including the level of affordable housing and public space that it offers.

    On the topic of the polluted canal itself, which will be the subject of a cleanup effort over the next decade, Mr. de Blasio said he believes "the best way to get the canal clean is to create a residential area around it" and, therefore, a constituency for faster action on a cleanup. Mr. de Blasio, whose support would be crucial for the success of the city's Gowanus rezoning, said that he is "comfortable with the framework as a starting point for discussion." The framework calls for buildings up to 10-14 stories tall on the canal as well as for affordable housing and public space requirements. He has called for the upzoning to be linked to a downzoning of Carroll Gardens. The city has refused to commit to a timetable for the latter. "The burden is on City Planning to make them correlate," he said. "I would be shocked if the whole upzoning would fail because they won't move a downzoning." Mr. de Blasio added that "I can't support a rezoning unless that downzoning is garuanteed." He did say, however, that the two wouldn't necessarily have to happen at the same time.

    posted by rsguskind at 9:00 AM

    Copyright 2008 The Gowanus Lounge.

  14. #59




    Last updated: 2:45 am
    April 9, 2009
    Posted: 2:38 am
    April 9, 2009

    The feds say Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal is so contaminated they plan to declare it a Superfund site -- a move that some critics said would only delay plans to build luxury housing along the toxic canal's banks.

    The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed yesterday that it wants to add the 1.8-mile canal -- once dubbed "Lavender Lake" for its purplish chemical hue -- to the Superfund's National Priorities List, so it could begin investigating the cause of the contamination and determine how best to deal with it.

    "The sooner we get the listing under way, the sooner EPA can begin its work, so that one day the Gowanus Canal can be used again to benefit the people of Brooklyn," said the agency's acting regional administrator, George Pavlou.

    But Carroll Gardens activist Buddy Scotto, leader of an at-times successful effort to clean up the canal for decades, said the EPA's decision stinks.

    He said all the designation "would do is tie up development projects off the shore," such as a luxury condo and townhouse project planned by the Toll Brothers developers.

    "There's no question the canal is clean enough now to support development," Scotto said.

    "This is all political because someone has decided they don't want to see development near the canal, but it doesn't make sense. How can anyone try to kill these projects during such a poor economic climate?"

    The project by Toll Brothers calls for 130 of the 577 units to be marketed to low- to middle-income households near Bond, Carroll and Second streets, and the rest would go for market rate.

    Other developments planned for the area around the canal include a 68,000-square-foot Whole Foods superstore on Third Street.

    Normally, polluters are required to pay for cleanups after completion of an EPA Superfund review, but in the case of the canal, much of the contamination occurred well over a century ago. In these situations, federal dollars are used to pay for a cleanup.

    Copyright 2009 NYP Holdings, Inc.

  15. #60
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    On the Gowanus Canal, Fear of Superfund Stigma

    April 23, 2009

    Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

    Pollutants in the Gowanus Canal include pesticides, heavy metals and carcinogens like PCBs.


    The New York Times
    Two housing developments are planned along the canal.

    On a warm Saturday morning, Jose Ilarraza stood by the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn watching two yellow cranes on the other side digging into mountains of scrap metal and dumping it onto a barge.

    While Mr. Ilarraza, a 40-year-old school custodian, said he likes to spend time by the canal, fishing for striped bass near its mouth in Gowanus Bay and enjoying “the nice breeze,” he never eats his catch.

    “There’s a lot of garbage,” said Mr. Ilarraza, a longtime Brooklyn resident.“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that.” The “garbage” in and along the mile-and-a-half-long canal includes pesticides, heavy metals and carcinogens like PCBs from more than a century’s worth of industrial activity. This month, the Environmental Protection Agency said that the contamination posed a public health hazard and proposed to add the Gowanus to the National Priorities List of its Superfund program, an effort to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous waste sites.

    Yet the proposal for a comprehensive cleanup, on which the agency is seeking public comment until June 6, is pitting federal and state officials against the Bloomberg administration and neighbor against neighbor.

    City officials and many residents fear that the Superfund label, reserved for the worst contamination in the country and evoking health emergencies like the Love Canal debacle of the 1970s, could deter new development in Gowanus, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook.

    City officials said that the listing could jeopardize more than $500 million committed to the waterfront for two private projects involving more than 1,200 housing units.

    Experts on contaminated sites said that a Superfund listing typically stirs contradictory emotions. On one hand, some people who live nearby may feel demoralized or frightened by the finding of serious contamination and worry about its impact on real estate values; on the other, some are often relieved to get a firm commitment to clean up the toxic substances in their midst.

    “It’s very common to have the division between those who see it as terrible and those who see it as an opportunity,” said Kris Wernstedt, an associate professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria campus who specializes in Superfund and brownfield issues.

    Studies have shown that property values decline after a Superfund listing but rebound after the cleanup, sometimes to far higher levels, he said.
    The proposed designation has put Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has championed a greener New York, in the odd position of opposing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which requested the Superfund listing for the canal.

    City environmental officials say they would welcome a cleanup, but not the stigma of a Superfund designation, which authorizes federal officials to pursue parties responsible for the pollution, and have them pay for the removal of hazards. They object to that process because it can extend the cleanup period into decades.

    They also argued that the Superfund designation would give the Environmental Protection Agency veto power over the city’s own Gowanus plans, including rezoning 25 blocks of industrial land to allow for residential and commercial development and spending $175 million to diminish odors and prevent sewage discharges that have contributed to the canal’s pollution.

    “Everything would have to be looked at fresh,” Daniel Walsh, director of the mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, said of a Superfund designation. “There’s no way to predict what would happen.”

    The mayor has linked economic development and environmentalism in his vision for the city, as he did with his plan to clean up moderately contaminated parcels known as brownfields. (The City Council voted on Wednesday to authorize the brownfields program, which is not linked to the Gowanus dispute.)

    But some officials and neighbors who favor the Superfund designation accused Mr. Bloomberg of putting development ahead of the environment in a mayoral election year.

    “It’d be nice to point at the housing units the developers would build” in a mayoral campaign, said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, a Democrat whose district includes the area and who held a meeting about the Superfund program for local residents last week. “But with the type of contamination that exists and the offer from the federal government, to say they oppose it and to go with a piecemeal approach is beyond me.”

    The city countered that it was seeking faster solutions from the Environmental Protection Agency than the Superfund would provide, like voluntary cleanups by polluters.

    “We don’t think about development in any capacity without thinking about environmental impact,” Robert C. Lieber, the deputy mayor for economic development, said in a statement. “Our chief concern with a Superfund designation is that it would delay a comprehensive cleanup.”

    But Environmental Protection Agency officials said that a voluntary approach could allow polluters to evade their obligations. Walter Mugdan, director of the Superfund Division for the New York region, also said that while it was too early to say how long the federal cleanup would take or how much it would cost, he did not expect it to interfere with the city’s current plans.

    Pete Grannis, the commissioner of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, said his agency had asked for the Superfund listing because the state lacked the resources to clean up the canal.

    “Everybody agrees on the need for this cleanup, and the stars are aligned with the E.P.A.’s interest in getting involved,” he said. “The faster this is cleaned up, the better it is for any development plans.”

    But at least one housing developer, Toll Brothers, has threatened to scrap its building plans if the Superfund designation goes through. Like other real estate companies, it already faces the challenge of a depressed housing market. Ethan Geto, a Toll Brothers spokesman, said a Superfund listing could torpedo its plan for a complex of 460 housing units on three acres by the canal.

    “To market residential units at a Superfund site is virtually impossible,” he said.

    The mixed emotions about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal were evident at the meeting organized by Ms. Velázquez last week. Many residents sided with the city and expressed concern about a drop in property values and the loss of jobs if the planned projects were scuttled.

    The main concern for many other residents who were at the hearing, though, is getting rid of the contamination, not what the cleanup is called or the development it could delay.

    “If there’s any kind of flooding, these contaminants will be in people’s backyards and homes,” said Steven Miller, 47, a filmmaker who lives about 100 yards from the canal, in Carroll Gardens.

    “Simply saying there’s millions of dollars of private money really is a separate issue than any cleanup of the canal. I’d love to see low-income housing and expensive housing for rich people, but I don’t see how that works without a thorough cleanup.”

    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

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