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


Report from Natalie Loney, EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator:

There are no new updates regarding work on the Canal from the EPA. Recently visitors from the People’s Republic of China came to the Canal. They were interested in the Superfund process, and how communities are involved in the government/community relationship. Katia Kelly served as the photographer for the day. This makes the fourth international visit: representatives from Italy, China, Russia and India have all come to the Canal.


Administrative Committee:

Didn’t meet, but there is a new membership application so the committee will be meeting soon.

Outreach Committee:

The originally planned meeting with Nydia Velasquez has been distilled into a one-pager of info to be distributed through various meetings coming up in Red Hook. This one-pager needs to be finalized and approved. The committee has an idea for a CAG general meeting in Red Hook, and would like to request that for the May or June general meeting.

There is a two-sided document about the CAG and Superfund process that is being revised and streamlined to a single page for circulation at the upcoming FEMA flood maps meeting on March 31. Based on CAG feedback, the existing document can be used if the CAG is unable to approve the one-pager in advance of this deadline.

Two letters for the DEP and DEC regarding canal cleanup and the MGP sites have been drafted for review, and need to undergo the formal approval process.

The letter intended for the DEC pertains to the MGP sites and invites the DEC to address the CAG during the June 30th meeting. The letter should come from the full CAG. Political language pertaining to the siting of the retention tanks will be struck from the draft since the CAG lacks more information about the siting, and the letter to DEC is approved.

The letter to the DEP will be addressed to Commissioner Lloyd and requests more information on the progress of final site selection for the CSO retention tanks. Political language pertaining to the siting of the retention tanks will be struck from the draft as above, and the letter to the DEP is approved.


Point of information: Do any revisions need to be reviewed by the whole CAG?

MOTION: CAG ask elected officials to request meetings with FEMA for Flood Maps happen in Carroll Gardens and other locations to get more information about new Flood Insurance Rates/Impact.


Comment: Will put CAG back on the map as far as the public is concerned.

The motion passes.

Outreach will handle this.

Archaeology Committee:

The committee has prepared a letter to the City regarding work to be done in the 1st street turning basin and the selection of firm AKRF. The letter includes qualifications about the firm, and suggestions for concerns that the committee has regarding archeological materials in the basin. Some members express concern that the letter lacks specific focus and clarity, and after several points of information, it is decided that the committee will refine the letter during its next meeting in order to present it to the full CAG for approval.

Specifics include:

-clarity regarding what is being asked of whom

-clarity of potential findings in the 1st Street turning basin

-Point of information: AKRF is the client of DDC, not DEC

In addition, the committee has been discussing the Consulting Party Function of the Archaeology Committee. This Consulting Party is open to the entire community, and there will need to be a public process about getting that information out. This process could also involve parties that might be affected by what is anticipated will be found. The scope of this is unclear, and the committee will ask for John Vetter’s presence in an upcoming CAG meeting to clarify the role and process of the Consulting Party.

Regular committee meetings happen the Monday before the monthly full CAG meeting at 7 p.m.

Real Estate Committee:

No meeting

Water Quality/Technical Committee:

No meeting. The committee finished a statement on water quality to DEC regarding classification of water body water quality standards.

Note: NYC Ocean Plan hearing that was snowed out is happening Thursday at the Central Park Zoo.

Regular meetings two Mondays before the full CAG meeting at 7 p.m.



The goal of strategic planning is to help establish the CAG as a more autonomous group, and to establish clarity as to how we operate and why, and to streamline ourselves around what we do and how we do it.

Conversation is based around a CAG Strategic Planning Process and Key Topics for Discussion prepared by the facilitators.

Leadership suggestions from the CAG:

Pat, Doug and Natalie can offer perspectives on what works and what does not work. A spokesperson or persons for the CAG would be an effective way of managing public-speaking events and responding to timely requests for comment, or news events. This would help the CAG maintain a better public presence, and would require less approval and lag time between news breaking and the CAG having a response.

The CAG could have a group of folks who take on this role, and it is possible that this could be a function of the facilitation committee. While the role of a spokesperson seems intimidating to some, it is unlikely to cause too much trouble. The CAG has agreed on many things about the canal: cleaning up the canal, taking care of the neighborhood and managing the project efficiently among them.

We need to think about using facilitation team hours and time most responsibly. Can the CAG do some of the things Doug and Pat do now, thus reserving working hours for ‘big ticket items’?

The first job of the facilitation committee should be to revise its Charter description.


  • Reactivating the Facilitation Committee is approved by the CAG with one reservation from CAG member who wants an executive committee with a chair
  • Each Committee should name a member for the Facilitation Committee before the next CAG meeting
  • Diane Bauxbam offers to schedule meetings and locations moving forward


  • To establish an annual retreat. This will help the CAG review membership, committees, and roles, and evaluate future needs for upcoming events/projects etc.
    • Details can be worked out when moving forward. The motion passes.


  • Membership
    • Going through the list and cleaning it out, but some people who came to the January meeting and wanted to not be removed have not attended since.
    • Outreach Committee needs to more consistently reach out to the people who are underrepresented on the CAG.
    • Rules regarding attendance at full CAG and Committee meetings need to remain as they are, and be enforced. Organizations should have to follow rules the same way. Alternate rules must be reviewed to ensure fair representation.
    • There must be a review of membership, requirements, and enforcement each year


  • Committees
    • What are the best ways to manage committees logistically?
      1. Every member must be on at least one committee
      2. Every committee needs to be functional
  • Facilitation Team will be in charge of assembling new committees
  • Review of Committee attendance rules:
    • MOTION: COMBINED ATTENDANCE 50% Committee/General meeting attendance, AND 25% committee meeting.
    • Dissent: either we want engaged members or we don’t
    • Doug suggests that the CAG Decide: leave attendance as it is, give Admin some flexibility with committee meeting attendance


  • Motion fails: CAG decided to leave membership rules as it is
  • Communications Plan:
    • The outreach committee will develop a communications plan to address inconsistencies with communicating both internally and externally
  • Charter update
    • The charter needs to be updated and streamlined



Motion 1: CAG will request additional FEMA floodmap meetings in the neighborhood

Motion 2: CAG reactivates the Facilitation Team and charges each committee with selecting a representative in advance of the April CAG meeting.

Motion 3: CAG will explore setting up an annual retreat for review of key info, an orientation for new members, and strategic planning on a yearly basis



CAG Members:

Joseph Alexiou
Jerry Armer
Paul Basile
Diane Buxbaum
Michelle de la Uz
Marlene Donnelly
Katia Kelly
Linda Laviollete
Margaret Maugenest
Eric McClure
John McGettrick
Andrea Devening (Alternate for David Meade)
Maryann Young (Alternate for Rita Miller)
Lizzie Olesker
Mark Shames
Bette Stoltz

Additional Participants:

Daniel Wiley, representing Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez

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