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Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday February 24, 2015
41 1st St. Brooklyn NY 11231, Mary Star of the Sea, Community Room



Christos Tsiamis: EPA Project Manager for Gowanus Canal Cleanup

  • Ecological Issues & Work in the canal and the role of the CAG as a Consultant on the Archeological Work
  • Work has begun on the canal and is proceeding well
    • New techniques for measuring information from the liquid tar
  • Good workshop with National Grid
    • EPA presented their work on the design of the cap
  • Cable study to measure upwelling of fresh water has been expanded
    • New cables from Carrol St to 4th St Basin will be utilized
  • Nothing to report from the City about the location of the storm water retention tanks
  • As part of the design, EPA is preparing a groundwater model to understand how the groundwater moves from the top to the bottom of the canal
    • Important to take into account rising sea levels to see how it impacts the work of the EPA on the Canal
    • CAP for remedy is designed to withstand 100 years, so EPA looked at projections for the next 100 years of sea level rise
      • Projections vary from 1 to 6 feet


CAG Member: Freshwater upwelling is from what sources?

Christos: Unknown, a combination of sources

CAG Member: What is happening with the Flushing tunnel, it seems as if it is not working

Christos: Unsure, but there is data from the tunnel regarding particulates and velocities from the City in December indicating that the water is moving

CAG Member: Are you looking at additional rainfall predicted by Climate Change?

Christos: No, though you can anticipate more ground water as a result of rain fall and sea level rise

CAG Member: Any news from the State about Brownfield Cleanup for Thomas Greene Park

Christos: No. You should be petitioning the State directly


Bridging Gowanus Presentation

Council Member Brad Lander

“Community Planning Framework Draft for Community Feedback”

  • Opportunities and Challenges provided the impetus for the Bridging Gowanus initiative. A broad set of stakeholders was brought together to participate in the planning process. Five major goals include:
    • Guaranteeing infrastructure investments:
      • Canal Cleanup & Neighborhood cleanup
      • Minimizing flooding from rainstorms and future storms
      • Improved resiliency in the face of climate change
      • Air quality
      • Parks and Open Space improvements
        • Creating a network / greenscape
      • Transit investments
      • New school seats


  • Strengthening and Preserving Manufacturing (& Ensuring that Residents Benefit)
    • New zoning tools
    • Improve and invest in critical business infrastructure
      • Telecommunications, sewage, road improvements, loading zones
    • Industrial Business Improvement District
    • Support developing multi-tenant industrial/ commercial buildings
    • Incentivize business owners to purchase property
    • Foster emerging materials re-use cluster
    • Explore job trainings programs and providing public support for workforce development


  • Strengthening a Genuine Mix of Uses
    • Create mandatory mixed use district
    • Consider NYC landmark designation
    • Public Interpret Community History
    • Explore other approaches to HP
    • Dedicated arts spaces
    • Access to public and private spaces for community based artists and organization
    • Ongoing support for art and cultural groups


  • Preserving and Creating Affordable Housing
    • Capital Improvements
    • Resilient Buildings and Infrastructure
    • Preserve neighborhood retail
    • Create job linkages
    • Protections fir existing rent stabilized tenants
    • Mandatory inclusionary zoning


Comment period extended through the end of March



CAG Member: So far what is the feeling about how City Administration will react to this, and will they take it seriously?

Brad Lander: I am confident that they will take it seriously, but it is unclear what that means exactly when it comes to specific zoning rules etc. There are many different Agencies that will need to coordinate and work together. Where ULURP actions are required, it is likely that the City Council defers to the local member, and Brad is excited about this, and will push for maximizing the public goals outlined in this process.

CAG Member: What is the logic of trying to eliminate truck and bus depots? These uses provide significant job opportunities for working individuals.

Brad Lander: All existing depots are in Gowanus Manufacturing Zone (IBZ). In the mixed use zone these uses might conflict with residential uses

CAG Member: (Summarized) The planning exercise that was done during the Bridging Gowanus Meetings involved a scenario with increasing building heights based on community priorities (affordable housing, deeply affordable housing, etc). This seems shameful and misleading.

CAG Member: Frogg conducted historical survey, please correct. Who are “the people” that participated in the Bridging Gowanus meetings? It seemed as if there were people at those meetings representing folks who do not live in this community. Were they developers interested in rezoning’s?

Brad Lander: When the surveys were conducted, anonymity was preserved

CAG Member: When you talk about public housing and new developments that are large, you should think about shadows. Who from NYCHA is going to be having a say in what happens on the NYCHA property? Who will ‘affordable’ developments be for- people who live here, or people making 100k.

Brad Lander: 2 of 3 public meetings were in public housing, goal of making sure that investments are made in NYCHA . The height conversation can continue to happen, but consider that increased heights can bring increased affordable housing.

Community Member: Exciting that this process occurred. There are pros and cons and tradeoffs for an development scenarios.

CAG Member: If people are submitting anonymous comments they could live anywhere. Why isn’t there a process guaranteeing local residents are participating? Is this about rezoning?

Brad Lander: Anonymity is important

CAG Member: Who will be in charge of leading Brownfield Cleanup and Block by Block analysis? Who will keep this program working when the elected officials are gone?

Brad Lander: We will work hard to ensure that maximum leverage can happen right away, but agencies that don’t have elected officials will still be there. We need to do everything we can to get the best set of rules possible to ensure that good things happen and the smartest changes happen.

CAG Member: How can this neighborhood support additional residential development?

Brad Lander: This is why the infrastructure goal is first.

CAG Member: But we have residential buildings going up now.

CAG Member: TA president elected last year, and I was not invited to these meetings. NYCHA buildings are going to be left with no help and no support while new developments are coming up around them. We need help to repair our buildings, to worry about the elderly. If you aren’t helping to preserve these spaces, you are putting people at risk because these developments are putting pressure on the

Brad Lander: You are making a great case for this plan- we need to invest in NYCHA housing first as the first affordable housing goal. We are committing to fighting hard for the goals that the community has said.

CAG Member: If we wait for this program to be adopted peace meal, the preservation of mixed use and manufacturing zones, we will loose them. Is land use staff drafting some changes to preserve these spaces?

Brad Lander: The council Is making manufacturing preservation a high priority.

CAG Member: Prefaces this with the mistrust in the room concerning this priority. The only group that seems to be doing something responsible seems to be the EPA, and there seems to be a huge disconnect between permitting the new Public Place development next to the polluted canal and without new infrastructure. What guarantees can you give that the City will be responsible and do what they say they are going to do?

Brad Lander: We can’t. But if we didn’t do this in the spirit of cooperation and improvement, I have no other ideas.


Archeology Presentation

John Vetter: Contact EPA concerning this

National Historic Preservation Act

  • If a federal agency is working on a project that has the potential to impact historical sites, they must take action to address this, and to do so with professional experts.
  • EPA now needs to establish a consulting party group- the CAG already has an archeology committee and this will be the Consulting Party Group
  • State Historic Preservation Officer: SHPO is part of the consulting party
    • Presents an ongoing opportunity to take part in a project that looks into the past in the place where you are living.
      • Need active and proactive participation
      • Partner with NYLP
      • Identify priorities and values concerning what we think is important and valuable.

The archaeology project is bound by the boundaries of the superfund site



CAG Member: Will you use Oral histories?

John Vetter: We will explore the best methods: we will also discuss ‘what is it we have found’?

CAG Member: You are bound by the superfund site which technically does not go beyond the bulkheads- are you going to look beyond this?

John Vetter:The bulkheads themselves will be a major focus, the process of treating water in and around a canal will be considered, including historic sewers etc.?

CAG Member: is there a date cutoff for when something is old enough to be historic?

John Vetter: 50 years, though this is not an absolute.

CAG Member: What is the process from this point forward

John Vetter: A schedule will be coming soon, but having a variety of ppl involved in the project will be crucial.

Christos: As projects come up, John will consult. The archaeology committee can request meetings as well.

Natalie Loney: To clarify the Consulting Group is the Archaeology in addition to other interested members.

CAG Member: Were any significant findings discovered on the Lightstone site, and will you have purview on the 1st st basin site?

John Vetter: The answer is often yes from an archeologists, we have much more information about the bulkheads, how they were constructed, when, why et.

CAG Member: Some uf is would be interested in the Consulting Group, I presume there is a process for this? Will the group be open to the general public?

Christos: The CAG is the consultant.











Other Business



  • March meeting can be used for strategic planning process
  • Outreach and Engagement Committee Meeting 8:30 AM 5th Ave Committee on Friday March 6.
  • Borough President’s Meeting on Flooding and Sewer Backups on 3/11, and a survey is available

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