Next Scheduled Meeting of this Committee:
Agenda: Discuss strategies for independent committee operations, debrief Superfund Symposium, plan for future outreach session, follow up on engaging public housing representatives
Summary from October 24th 2014 Meeting:
Agenda of October 24th 2014 Meeting:
8:35 – 9:00 AM: Debrief of Superfund Meeting sponsored by Congresswoman Velazquez
- Discuss CAG role
- Discuss results of the meeting/questions raised/interest generated
- Discuss any follow-up items
- Debrief what worked well and what could be improved in planning and execution
9:00 – 9:20 AM: Discuss Engagement of Public Housing Residents
- Discuss ideas that have emerged since the last O&E meeting about engaging public housing residents
- Discuss potential proposals for full CAG to consider at the upcoming meeting (e.g., a separate committee?)
9:20 – 9:50 AM: Planning for the Future
- Confirm the group’s mission
- Confirm specific activities it performs now
- Discuss what new activities it might take on in the future in a more independent environment
- Discuss associated implications for committee structure/operation if it were to take on these new responsibilities
9:50 – 10:00 AM: Announcements and Next Steps
- Announcements on other related efforts or things that people have been working on
- Website issues/ideas
- Preparation for the CAG meeting
Meeting Participants, October 30, 2014
Participants (*indicates Committee member)
Michelle de la Uz*
Natalie Loney (EPA)
Terri Thomson (Nat’l Grid)
Pat Tallarico (Facilitator)
Debrief of Superfund Meeting Organized by Congresswoman Velazquez:
The group discussed the October 22nd Superfund Orientation meeting that was organized by Congresswoman Velazquez’s office. This meeting came about as a result of some initial contact by the Outreach Committee to members of Congresswoman Velazquez’s staff. The purpose of the meeting was to engage a broader cross-section of the community to raise awareness about the Gowanus Superfund site and cleanup process. Approximately 60 people attended the meeting, and about a third were from public housing communities.
This was not a CAG event, although the CAG was asked to provide a brief presentation. Ariel Krasnow shared some basic information about the CAG and handed out a brief fact sheet. EPA, DEP, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), and other elected officials also were represented at the meeting.
Lesson Learned: The CAG needs to be clearer about its role in these types of events moving forward and make sure that this role and the details of the event are communicated to the full CAG.
The conversation focused largely on concerns of residents such as sewage backups. NYCHA representatives indicated that these backups were due in large part to residents dumping grease into the sink drains. O&E members felt that this characterization may not be accurate and that these backups are more likely related to the larger sewer system issues in the area. One of the participants at the October 22nd meeting also made this assertion. Someone from Congresswoman Velazquez’s office is following up with NYCHA on these issues.
Another similar meeting is being planned for the spring at the Miccio Center in Red Hook. It is hoped that Spanish translation services will be available for this meeting or that there will be a separate meeting conducted in Spanish.
Action: The committee will continue to work with Congresswoman Velazquez’s office to plan for the spring meeting and keep the full CAG informed about progress.
Superfund Symposium November 20th:
Natalie Loney talked about the upcoming EPA Superfund Symposium. The purpose of the symposium is to bring together various Superfund communities in Brooklyn to share information and experiences. She would like to have one CAG member provide a brief overview of the CAG, observations about the process, to date, interactions with the community, etc. Once this person is identified, Natalie will work with them to provide more information as the agenda is finalized. She also requested that a few other CAG members participate in a less formal capacity to answer questions from other community members and provide additional perspectives.
Action: Pat will ask Doug to put this on the agenda for the full CAG meeting so that the full CAG can be made aware of the request and the group can identify the point person.
Josh Skaller expressed some of the feedback he has been hearing from community members about the proposed retention tank site at Douglass/Thomas Green Park. (DEP is proposing to add a retention tank either to the park or to a privately-owned site across the street from the park. These proposed sites are near the Outflow RH-034 at the head of the canal. There are other retention tanks being proposed in other locations as well.) There have been questions raised about whether the proposed tanks would take the pool totally off line. Also, some elected officials have the impression that CAG members have expressed support for taking part of the park off line or that they don’t care what happens there.
The Douglass/Thomas Greene Park site had been suggested by EPA in the Record of Decision since it was one of the three former MGP sites along the canal, and NYS DEC is currently coming up with a remediation plan for the park site under the Brownfield program. One of the Committee members indicated that National Grid was required to remediate the pool site. Terri Thomson stated that the park actually may not need to be cleaned up. The NYS DEC’s remediation plans for the site would be released in December and public comment would be allowed following the release. It will be through that process that the public would gain clarity on the necessity and the level of remediation necessary at the Fulton Site and the likely impact on the park.
The group agreed that the CAG needs to identify the range of concerns, questions and issues they have related to the proposed tank at the park. This will help the group have a more informed conversation about whether the CAG needs to develop a formal position or provide DEP with criteria when they are making their decisions about the retention tank. These discussions should involve other interested parties to ensure that the CAG is reflecting the full range of community perspectives.
Action: Pat will work with Doug to include an initial discussion about the retention tanks at the full CAG meeting. Specifically, the CAG should try to develop a plan to deal with DEP’s decision and its decision-making process for retention tank placement and for upland remediation issues directly related to the placement.
John McGettrick suggested that the group consider engaging local teachers to see what information they might want or be able to provide to their students on Superfund. Based on their response, the CAG could help to identify some materials that could be used by teachers or identify potential speakers that could visit schools to talk about Superfund.
Engaging Public Housing Residents:
Several public housing residents participated in the September CAG meeting. After the meeting, five of these residents submitted applications to be members of the CAG. Some of these individuals are already residents of communities that have a representative on the CAG, but that member is not active. Some of these applicants also identified themselves as members of the group Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE). They agreed that the Admin Committee should meet and discuss these applications soon and consider the following:
- The Admin Committee should consider the candidates in the context of the current membership list. There may be some overlap in organizations that are already represented, but the current representative may not be active.
- The Committee should conduct a broader assessment of membership to identify inactive members.
- The Committee should review the information that is available for potential candidates to determine if it is clear what happens after the CAG receives their application. If it is not clear and readily available, they may want to consider developing some new material.
- The Committee should get back to each new candidate and let them know what the process is so there is not an expectation that they will become a member immediately. These individuals should be encouraged to continue to come to CAG meetings.
Planning for the Future:
The group briefly discussed the need to build CAG capacity to function more independently in the future. This is part of the overall strategic planning conversation that the full CAG will need to have at an upcoming meeting. The meeting attachment included some ideas of things that the facilitation team does now that could be taken on by CAG members moving forward. The Committee will discuss this in more detail at a future meeting.
The Committee did not decide when to meet next. The November full CAG meeting will be held early on November 18th.