Please join us for our October General Meeting, on Tuesday, October 22, 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.

Please join us for our first General Meeting of the fall, on Tuesday, September 24, 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: Welcome and Introductions

6:45 – 7:15 PM: EPA Project Updates

7:15 – 8:30 PM: CAG Committee Issues and Updates

• Admin Committee
• Leadership Committee
• Outreach Committee
• Land Use Committee
• Archaeology Committee
• Water Quality and Technical Committee

8:30 PM: Adjourn

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, October 17, at 8:30 a.m., in the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street.

CAG Attendees: Sabine Aronowsky, Christine Petro, Eric McClure, Jessica Roff

Review of last month’s meeting notes and action items, and of the September general meeting.

Christine has requested a fact sheet from EPA for RTA 1. No update yet. She’ll follow up with Natalie.

North Canal Visioning Group does not appear to have met recently. We need to remind Council Member Levin of the necessity to engage the community around the north end of the canal, especially with the 90% design due at the end of last month.

Sidebar conversations are happening about the order to provide a temporary swimming pool while the park remediation is progressing. Christine or Sabine will invite Benjamin Solotaire from Council Member Levin’s office to update us on the North Canal Visioning Group. Christine will double check with Andrea about whether there have been any recent NCVG meetings.

We will move the November Outreach meeting to November 14 (Sabine will confirm a meeting room and will move her standing appointment so we can go longer than an hour). Invite EPA and Levin’s office for a discussion of design processes for Fulton cut-off wall and tank projects, as well as park remediation and temporary pool.

We also need to get an update from National Grid regarding the remediation of Thomas Greene Park. We’ll invite Terri Thompson to the December Outreach Committee meeting to provide an update.

What will the impacts be of the two projects (CSO tank and park remediation) possibly going on at the same time? Will parts of the park remain open, and what kind of safety provisions will be in place to protect park users?

With 90% design of the RTA-1 clean up , will there be an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the plan?

CAG could issue a press release after Thanksgiving with an update on the project, perhaps in conjunction with Council Member Levin’s office.

Much of these potential actions hinge on an update on the RTA-1 work. Opportunity to comment on plan, etc. Head house open space design, incorporation of Gowanus Station building façade, etc.

EPA Region 2’s Gowanus Superfund cleanup Senior Project Manager, Christos Tsiamis, sent along the following notification yesterday:

“…NYC DEP will be shutting down the Flushing Tunnel for 10-12 weeks starting next Tuesday October 1st in order to perform the modifications to the Flushing Tunnel Discharge Chamber to address the foaming issues at the Flushing Tunnel outlet.”

Tsiamis reported that it is his understanding that the work will take place on land, on the premises of NYCDEP’s property at the top end of the canal.

At its September 24, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution empowering the CAG to formally submit a petition to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requesting that the Gowanus Canal be reclassified from Class-SD to Class-I.

The resolution reads as follows:

Resolved, that the EPA Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) formally submit a request for water reclassification or a “reclass petition” to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Division of Water, Bureau of Water Assessment and Management. The CAG seeks to reclassify the surface waters of the Gowanus Canal through the State’s formal rule making process from its current industrial designation of Class-SD to Class-I. The current Class-SD designation mandates a minimal level of dissolved oxygen be maintained in the waters, but places no limit to levels of pathogens present in the waterway and is not protective of current and future recreational uses, which include contact recreation for families and children. A Class-I designation would impose limits on pathogen levels, both coliform and enterococci bacteria, and is necessary to ensure that children and others are not exposed to dangerous diseases due to a simple act of coming into contact with the water while recreating in, on, or at the canal.

Read more »

At its September 24, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution calling on the EPA to finalize a Programmatic Agreement or Memorandum of Agreement covering the Gowanus Superfund site pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

The resolution, addressed to the EPA, Gowanus Canal Superfund Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), reads as follows:

Resolved: 

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that the EPA and the PRPs, as well as any contractors employed by them, refrain from proceeding with demolition, site clearance, or any other tangible preparations for the creation of the cut-off wall proposed for the east side of the Gowanus Canal above the Union Street Bridge or any other demolition, excavation, or bulkhead replacement activity along the Gowanus Canal until such time as the EPA has finalized a Programmatic Agreement (PA) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) covering the Gowanus Superfund site’s entire area of potential effects pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Read more »

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it had rejected a proposal by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to substitute a combined sewer overflow (CSO) tunnel for the two CSO retention tanks prescribed in the EPA’s Record of Decision for the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup.

In a letter dated September 20, 2019, US EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez informed NYC DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza that after careful and lengthy review, EPA had decided against the city’s tunnel proposal. Lopez outlined several reasons for the EPA’s decision, which largely focused on concern over potential delays in the cleanup if a tunnel were to replace the tanks.

Click here to read the full letter from Administrator Lopez.

At its May 28, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution calling for greater coordination between the New York City Department of City Planning and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to address additional loading of contaminated CSO solids that may result from the proposed rezoning of Gowanus, in order to protect the Superfund Remedy.

The resolution, addressed to City Planning Director Marisa Lago and NYCDEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, reads as follows:

Resolved, as the proposed Gowanus neighborhood rezoning could impact the Superfund process and remedy through increased loading of contaminated CSO solids in the Canal, the Gowanus CAG hereby requests that the Department of City Planning (NYCDCP) and Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) work closely together to coordinate mitigation of negative impacts. To ensure agency compliance, we further request regular updates on coordination efforts by providing written answers to questions unaddressed at the March 26 [2019] general CAG meeting (below) and responding to our comments on the impacts of the Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning and Related Actions.

Questions from March 26 CAG Meeting:

  1. Will the proposed increase in density as a result of the rezoning impact the annual volume and frequency of CSO contaminated solids discharged into the Gowanus Canal and throughout the East River and New York Harbor?
  2. How will the timeline and phasing of eventual construction projects as a result of the rezoning impact and overlap with Superfund clean-up efforts?
  3. In order to accurately assess the impact of the proposed rezoning on the Superfund Remedy, will DEP calculate CSO discharge volume and frequency by each CSO-shed, incorporate data from real-time water quality monitoring and data collection, and model impact based on both Projected and Potential development sites in the Gowanus Draft Scope of Work?
  4. Can DEP commit to providing a current and ongoing publicly accessible record of infrastructure upgrades and system improvements as well as a mechanism for tracking proposed mitigation measures identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Gowanus rezoning?
  5. There have been several infrastructure upgrades that include direct discharge of treated stormwater into the Canal. Their performance needs to be proven in pilot projects, in order to adequately support the Superfund remedy. At the general CAG meeting on March 26, 2019, DEP made a commitment to reporting on monitoring results for Sponge Park and the High-Level Storm Sewer. What is the timeline for these monitoring programs, and when will the CAG have access to the results?
  6. The Superfund Record of Decision specifically requires that new development mitigate additional sewer loads that could compromise the Superfund remedy (p. iii, par. 4). Which City agency(ies) or PRP(s) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with this, or will it be passed to the private developer, as was the case with 363-365 Bond? If so, how will the developer be monitored for compliance?
  7. The Superfund Record of Decision specifically requires that CSO retention tanks are sized to “accommodate projected additional loads to the combined sewer system that result from current and future residential development, as well as periods of high rainfall, including future rainfall increases that may result from climate change” (p. 8, par. 5). How will added density impact plans for the CSO infrastructure required under the Superfund ROD?

You can download a copy of the full resolution here: Gowanus CAG Resolution_DEP DCP Coordination_5.28.19.

At its May 28, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution requesting independent analysis of the potential for preservation of the entire Gowanus Station building located at 234 Butler Street.

The resolution, addressed to Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 (EPA), the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), reads as follows:

Resolved, the Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that EPA engage independent consultants to conduct further site and engineering analysis investigations with respect to retention in place of the City Of New York Water Supply – Distribution GOWANUS STATION building, located at 234 Butler Street.

The CAG asks for an independent consultant to conduct its own analysis to determine whether DEP’s 234 Butler analysis is on point, preferably a consultant familiar with historic preservation practices, such as Jan Hird Pokorny. The CAG asks that the Gowanus Station building be preserved in its entirety.

Background: A previous resolution regarding the request for an independent engineering analysis of this building was passed by the CAG in March 2018.

The CAG was not able to provide direct Section 106 consultation regarding the proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between June of 2018 and February, 2019.

The original resolution was drafted by the CAG’s Archaeology Committee. You can download a copy of the full resolution here: Gowanus CAG Resolution_234 Butler_5.28.19.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation last week announced that cleanup of the former Citizens Manufactured Gas Plant site at Smith Street and 5th Street, also known as Public Place, will begin in June. The project should be completed in less than two years, with work being performed by contractors on behalf of National Grid, with supervision by NYSDEC.

NYSDEC will host a public discussion about the cleanup activities prior to the start of work. You can drop in any time during the session to ask questions and discuss the project. Details are as follows:

Thursday, June 13th
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
PS 372, The Children’s School (Gym Entrance)
291 1st Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

For more information, you can download a Fact Sheet about the project here.