Please note that the next general meeting of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group will take place on Tuesday, August 1, at 6:30 p.m., at Mary Star of the Sea, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens.

This is a deviation from our regular fourth-Tuesday-of-the-month schedule. There will be no regular August meeting later in the month.

The CAG will resume its regular monthly meeting schedule on September 26.

Please join us for our next General Meeting, on Tuesday, June 27, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens. All of our meetings are open to the public.

Draft Agenda (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:45 PM: Introductions

  • Introductions
  • Approve minutes from May

6:45 – 7:45 PM: Project Updates, Q&A

  • EPA

7:45 – 8:00 PM: Discussion of CAG Endorsement of EPA Statement* on avoiding certain activities in the canal prior to cleanup

  • Facilitation Committee

8:00 PM: CAG Committee Action and Updates

  • Administration Committee
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Facilitation Committee
  • Land Use Committee
  • Outreach Committee
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee

8:30 PM: Adjourn

EPA Statement for Discussion and CAG Endorsement at June 27, 2017 meeting

“It has come to our attention that there are plans for an organized expedition at the First Street Turning Basin, which is part of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site, for the purpose of removing industrial artifacts that are found at that location either buried or exposed. EPA strongly advises against such undertakings and other activities that involve the removal of sediment, water, debris and objects in general by individuals or groups in all parts of the highly contaminated canal and its exposed shorelines, since contact with the contamination poses a health risk. For the First Street Basin, in particular, as with several other locations along the canal, in addition to the risks due to contamination, there are additional risks of physical harm due to the condition of the site, including an unstable bank which might be further destabilized and collapse as a result of activities by individuals.”

Please note that the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Outreach Committee meeting originally scheduled for June 9th at 8:30 a.m. has been postponed.

We’ll post a new date to the calendar as soon as we’re able to reschedule.

Please join us for our next General Meeting, on Tuesday, May 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens. All of our meetings are open to the public.

DRAFT AGENDA  (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:45 PM: Welcome

  • Introductions
  • Approve minutes from April meeting

6:45 – 7:15 PM: Project Updates, Q&A

  • EPA

7:15 – 7:45 PM: Update on Gowanus Canal Public Health Assessment

  • Scarlett McLaughlin, New York State Department of Health
  • Leah Graziano, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

7:45 – 8:15 PM: CAG plans for comments on the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Facilities Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement due June 16

8:15 PM: CAG Committee Action and Updates

  • Administration Committee
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Facilitation Committee (updates on communication plan)
  • Land Use Committee
  • Outreach Committee (proposal to merge with Facilitation Committee)
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee

8:30 PM: Adjourn

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

Announcements

Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:30 PM.
The February meeting summary was approved with no revisions.

Project Updates (Christos Tsiamis, EPA Project Manager)

  • Fourth Street Basin – Last fall’s pilot involved debris removal, as part of larger pilot that will be complete with the dredging and capping of the portion of the basin next to Whole Foods; right now EPA has the 50% design for that portion of the pilot and is looking to complete it in the coming months. We anticipate being out in the basin and doing work in summer, depending on the schedule. The work will involve installing bulkheads to support the dredging, then dredging the basin, removing the material, and treating it on a barge at Public Place. Once the material is stabilized, it will be sent offsite, as described in the Record of Decision (ROD). Once we’re finished dredging, we will cap that portion of the basin, which will complete cleanup for that part of the Canal.
  • The First Street Basin, located adjacent to the Powerhouse property, is filled in. The ROD calls for excavation and the basin will be restored to waterway once EPA is done. We are working with the city to finish the design in the coming months; the goal is to start construction by the end of the year or early next year.
  • The Powerhouse property is not part of the Superfund site but does have a PCB problem. It’s being cleaned up under the NYS Brownfields program, but EPA wants the site cleaned to levels that won’t turn it into a source of recontamination of the Canal. We will keep the CAG posted.
  • The design of the entire upper Canal cleanup (RTA) involves similar aspects to the Fourth Street Basin, but is more complicated because we need to stabilize the banks so that when the dredging happens, there’s no collapse. The properties are individually owned and every bulkhead reconstruction has to be done in co-operation with the property owners. In cases where the owners are not willing to do the work, EPA will coordinate with PRPs to make sure the design and construction will be on time for all the different bulkheads north of the Fourth Street Basin and the start of dredging, in late 2018.
  • EPA goals are based on what we think is a reasonable allocation of time for engineering projects; the parties we work with have different schedules, which requires lots of discussion to reconcile.
  • Bulkhead restoration and reconstruction involves many legal arrangements between EPA and the owners, and EPA and PRPs. Brian Carr (EPA attorney) will describe what kind of work is involved.

Read more »

At its April 25, 2017 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution, originally proposed by the CAG’s Archaeology Committee.

Henry Willems
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Environmental Remediation 625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7017

By Email: henry.willems@dec.ny.gov

Site Name: Gowanus Canal Northside
Site Code: C224080
Program: Brownfield Cleanup Program

The following comments have been prepared by the Archaeology Committee and approved by the full Gowanus EPA Community Advisory Group for consideration as part of the DEC lead cleanup of contamination on this site.

There is reason to believe that this brownfield site may have significant archaeological remains from the events that took place during the August 1776 Battle of Brooklyn. The area is noted as the place where General Washington’s army operated Fort Box, a one-gun fort to guard the Freek’s mill-pond passage across the Gowanus Creek. Maps from 1776 indicate this passage across the creek met solid ground on the west side at the location of your C224080 cleanup site.

Historic references, both maps and historical documents, state that Fort Box was located in the vicinity of present-day Sackett and DeGraw streets on the western side of the Gowanus, which is the same area as the proposed brownfield clean up.

An eyewitness account of the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn, as seen from the west side of the Gowanus, near Fort Box, was given by a Private Joseph Martin in a book he wrote in 1830 under the title, A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier. The present-day historian, David McCullough, referenced Private Martin’s writings in his book, 1776.

Read more »

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present: David Briggs, Rita Miller, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Triada Samaras, Sue Wolfe, Maryann Young

Item 1

Could the 7th Street and Lowe’s turning basins become salt marshes? After some discussion, it was agreed that they should be included in the list of areas that the NRDA trustees consider for restoration.

Action

The committee will compile a list of areas and contact the trustees.

Item 2

Questions from committee member: “What are salt marshes?” and “Do they increase mosquito populations/problems possibly posing a problem for residents nearby?” Answer: Salt marshes support different types of plants, fish, birds, and invertebrates.

Action

More research required on the mosquito issue.

Item 3

Carl Alderson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the waterfront planning person for the Department of City Planning will be invited to the next committee meeting.

Action

Andrea will invite both individuals.

Item 4

A list of public and private land/waterways that could be considered for ecological restoration under the NRDA was developed. Sites include the Salt Lot, all turning basins, street ends, extension of the 4th Street turning basin east of 3rd Avenue, Long Bank Park (behind Home Depot), Lowe’s parking lot, and the former Pathmark site.

Action

The committee will present a list to the NRDA trustees.

Item 5

Questions regarding the assessment: What are the injuries that the trustees have identified? What can we ask for? Is loss of open space a potential damaged resource since it affects humans’ access to fresh air and maintaining a sustainable environment that can support plant life, trees, birds, fish, etc.?

Action

Andrea and Dave will forward the questions to Carl Alderson.

Please join the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach & Education Committee for our regular monthly meeting. We’ll be meeting in the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street, in the large conference room on the ground floor (if the front door is locked, please ring the doorbell and someone will let you in).

We’ll be discussing plans for outreach at EXPO Gowanus, a possible community update town hall meeting, and other business.

As always, this meeting is open to the public.

Please join us for our next General Meeting, on Tuesday, April 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens. All of our meetings are open to the public.

DRAFT AGENDA (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:40 PM: Introductions

  • Introductions
  • Approval of minutes from March meeting

6:40 – 7:00 PM: Project Updates, Q&A

  • EPA

 7:00 – 8:00 PM: Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Facilities Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement

  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection

8:00 PM: CAG Committee Action and Updates

  • Archaeology Committee (proposed letter to NYS DEC)
  • Outreach Committee
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee
  • Administration Committee
  • Facilitation Committee
  • Land Use Committee

8:30 PM: Adjourn

Coming up at the Brooklyn Historical Society…

Superfund Brooklyn
Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 pm
$10 / $5 Members

Reserve your spot!

Three major environmental remediation project sites lie within or on Brooklyn’s borders, and each at big development sites: Newtown Creek, Gowanus Canal, and Wolff-Alport. Join Jarrett Murphy, Executive Publisher of City Limits, as he talks to a panel of experts about the history of these sites, cleanup efforts, and what this means for the borough. Panelists include Walter Mugdan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Division Regional Director, Willis Elkins, Program Manager at Newtown Creek Alliance, and Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of the Fifth Avenue Committee.