The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Friday, December 9, at 8:30 a.m., at the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street. The agenda included planning for a community orientation/re-orientation to be held at the February 2017 CAG meeting, and a discussion of plans for EXPO Gowanus 2017.

Committee Members Present

Sabine Aronowsky
Michelle de la Uz
Katia Kelly
Eric McClure
Maria Pagano
Christine Petro

EPA Representatives Present

Natalie Loney



Recap of December 8 Department of City Planning meeting on Gowanus Resiliency and Sustainability.

Should we invite DCP to participate in the February re-orientation? How about DEP? Or should we save that for the March CAG meeting?

Should we plan the orientation as a community meeting separate from the CAG monthly meeting? Who would facilitate, assuming that Doug’s presence isn’t funded.

The original concept for the February meeting was a status and recap from EPA. Should this be something different?

Natalie: There’s a lot happening at breakneck speed. The canal cleanup. Potential eminent domain condemnations (for construction of CSO retention tanks; at Wyckoff Gardens for infill development). Rezoning. It’s very confusing to people. Maybe an update on the cleanup can serve as the jumping-off point for a meeting that has a broader focus.

The objective of the meeting is to educate and inform the community about the canal cleanup, and how it relates to rezoning and development, resiliency, etc.

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Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street


  • September minutes approved.

CAG Announcements

  • A petition to rename part of Union Street to Bette Stoltz Way was distributed.
  • Message from former CAG member Angela Murphy – she misses the CAG.
  • Admin Committee requests response to this year’s member survey.
  • Newtown Creek CAG will put together an informal meeting of area CAG groups early next year.

EPA Updates

  • EPA has started the debris removal study and will use the results in planning the overall Canal cleanup.
  • The subcontractors on this project got a late start. The original plan was to take all debris to the staging area but that would really delay the process. The new approach is to ask National Grid to bring a staging barge to the project area; they started removing debris on Monday. Once they finish loading, the debris will be taken for disposal. They expect to finish before Thanksgiving.
  • EPA will continue with the next stages – dredging of soft material and capping, along with some support of bulkheads. That work will be finished by the end of 2017. Then we will have all of the information to start planning for the start of dredging at the top of the Canal.
  • Air-monitoring stations near Whole Foods are monitoring emissions that may be coming from the work; we are monitoring for volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, ammonia, and dust particulates – we get readings every 15 minutes. EPA had four days of air-quality measurements before beginning on Monday, which are being used to establish background levels. After two days of operation, EPA has not noticed any incidents.
  • EPA is removing targeted debris (from a previous sonar scan of the bottom). We’re going to use regular dredging buckets along the Canal. At the bridge, we’re going to use different techniques in order to not damage the structure.
  • One private party will be replacing their bulkhead (the new owner of the scrap-metal operation in the southern part of the basin). A Cube Smart self-storage facility will be going up there.
  • Over the summer, EPA will work at the extension of the 4th Street basin and the 5th street basin. We will excavate and restore the basin to 20 feet beyond the 3rd Avenue bridge (we have flexibility to adjust that length). EPA has conducted an investigation with National Grid and went over 100 feet further from the point of the sample. Right now, we are interpreting the results.
  • EPA found some petroleum contamination at the 30-foot layer. This geological layer has a high quantity of organic matter. We are assessing the extent and will update the CAG once we’ve come to conclusions and decisions.
  • EPA is working with the city to open and restore the 1st Street basin. Land Use Committee recommendations, approved by the CAG, have been sent to the City. We will try to address the following points: to support marine life and wet-life species. We can provide areas to support marine life at the bottom of the Canal – it doesn’t necessarily need to be in the bulkheads. There are recommendations for a shelf on the Power House side, which would be a habitat. The proposed width is 10 feet. There’s also a possibility of a 20-foot wide shelf (the whole basin is 50 feet wide).

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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 focusing on planning for a community update meeting tentatively scheduled for March.

As always, this meeting is open to the public.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, November 10, at 6:30 p.m., at the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street. The agenda included choosing future meeting dates/times, brainstorming the future of the Outreach Committee, and a discussion of key initiatives for outreach to the broader community, including holding a community orientation/re-orientation at the February 2017 CAG meeting.

Committee Members Present

Stefan Doering
Rafael Gomez de Luna
Eric McClure

Eric will create and circulate a Doodle poll for future best meeting dates and times.

Eric will review Outreach Committee attendance. Most listed members of the committee have failed to meet the required 50% attendance commitment. Will submit attendance info to the Admin Committee.

Is there a way to track whether CAG member are pushing out information to their constituents and the community at large? Every organizational CAG member needs to be distributing notices and materials. How do we hold them to account? Read more »

Please join us for our next General Meeting, on Tuesday, November 29, 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 October

6:45 – 7:30 PM: Project Updates, Q&A

  • EPA

7:30 – 8:00 PM: Land Use Committee Proposed Resolution

  • Resolution on Thomas Greene Playground

8:00 PM: CAG Committee Updates

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

8:30 PM: Adjourn

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Friday, October 14, at 8:30 a.m., at the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street. The agenda included discussion of choosing future meeting dates and times to best accommodate all Committee members, brainstorming the future of the Outreach Committee, and discussion of key initiatives for outreach to the broader community.
Committee Members Present
Sabine Aronowsky
Eric McClure
CAG Member (non-Committee)
Louis Kleinman
Natalie Loney, EPA
Terri Thompson, National Grid
Sabine will create a Doodle poll for future best meeting dates and times.
Participation on the committee has been poor; nearly 20 people are listed as Outreach members, but attendance has been in the low single digits.  Eric will check attendance rules for committees vs. full CAG [follow-up: Attendance rules are the same; attendance at 50% of committee meetings is required.  Given that standard, most Outreach Committee members have failed to meet their attendance obligation.]
People have a limited capacity to help; assigning tasks might be the best approach.
The Admin Committee should crack down a bit on non-active members, both at-large and organizational members. There should be more coordination between Admin and Outreach to communicate with CAG members about attendance.

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Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

CAG Facilitator Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:40 PM. CAG members and guests introduced themselves.

July minutes were presented and approved.

EPA Updates

At the July CAG meeting EPA discussed the start of work at the Fourth Street Turning Basin, which was intended to begin in August.

  • At this time, National Grid is having minor challenges getting subcontracting in order.
  • Debris removal has been delayed, and is expected to start sometime in mid-October.
  • This delay allows EPA to develop a more robust communication strategy.
  • EPA will provide fact sheets with visuals to the CAG and the larger community.

Questions and Answers

CAG Member: Do you have a target date for providing the information?
EPA: No, we do not.

CAG Member: Are you referring to the archaeology component?
EPA: No, we are talking about the contractor who will perform the debris removal work.

CAG Member: What does this work involve – will there be sampling? Will it smell?
EPA: There was some sampling taking place behind the bridge and the Al-Madinah School. What we’re talking about is the debris that needs to be removed before dredging can take place; it’s the preparatory (non-remedial) work of removing material from the Canal. Depending on what we find there, there may be some odors, but part of the process will include air monitoring on the perimeter.

CAG Member: There are clearly strong feelings about dredging the Canal. The problem is that there’s been a government claim until all the land on the sides of the Canal have been cleaned so that it doesn’t re-pollute the Canal.
EPA: The Fourth Street Basin is not the area we’re talking about. You don’t see the coal tar migration here like at other locations, for example, the head of Canal. This work is preparatory – we’re not going to be dredging right after that. There is a concern about recontamination of the Canal and portions where there is coal tar down to the native sediment – that’s where the solidification process will take place. There are certain sources upland where EPA is working to address contamination and there are steps being taken to address continued contamination in the Canal. We are not remediating all of those properties.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, October 4, 2016, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present: David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Erica Stoltz, Sue Wolfe

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid; Erica Stoltz, CAG/South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation; Maya Kremen, Geto & Demilly Inc.; Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan, Columbia University Journalism School; Leroy Branch, Community Coordinator, Brooklyn Borough Commissioner’s Office, New York City Department of Transportation; Rahul Shah P.E., Director-Movable Bridges, Bridge Capital Design & Construction, New York City Department of Transportation

Item 1

Review of September 6, 2016 meeting minutes.


Minutes approved without comments.

Item 2

After introductions, Mr. Shah presented fixed and moveable bridge options that could replace Union Street Bridge. Following are a list of criteria that DOT will consider when selecting a final design:

  • With a fixed bridge option, part of the existing bridge can be kept open during construction of new bridge; this is not possible with a moveable bridge.
  • A moveable bridge is approximately 3-4 times more expensive to construct than a fixed bridge.
  • A moveable bridge is more expensive to operate after it is built.


None required.

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Contractors working for the Environmental Protection Agency today began the process of removing debris from the Gowanus Canal’s 4th Street Turning Basin, a necessary first step to facilitate the dredging of toxic materials from the canal bed. The work being performed in the 4th Street Basin, a pilot project that will eventually be replicated throughout the canal, is expected to take several weeks.


EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Natalie Loney briefs reporters on the start of debris removal from the Gowanus Canal’s 4th Street Turning Basin.

The work is being staged from two large barges, which are supporting two excavators. Sonar scans have revealed 36 large objects in the 4th Street Basin, including two boats, a tree, and several pilings. Dredging is expected to begin in the basin in 2017.

Click here for a fact sheet with more information on the debris-removal pilot project.