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The Gowanus CAG Outreach Committee met on Thursday, May 13, 2016, with discussion focused on continuing development of the CAG’s Communications Plan.

CAG members present: Sabine Aronowsky, Katia Kelly, Eric McClure, Christine Petro.

EPA: Natalie Loney

Review of Outstanding Action Items

The group reviewed the action items from the April meeting.

The full CAG approved all four requests put forth by the Outreach Committee at the April general meeting:

  • Establishment of a CAG Twitter account (@GowanusCAG) to be used to push out information available on the CAG website, such as meeting dates and times, links to web posts and CAG news.

Eric reported that he had issued invitations to the Google Group to CAG members, activated the Twitter feed, and had posted the links to the Facebook and YouTube pages.  As agreed, the links to the EPA’s Gowanus Superfund Facebook page and the CAG’s YouTube page contain the following disclaimer:  “The contents of the EPA’s Gowanus Canal Facebook page/the Gowanus Canal CAG YouTube page are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gowanus Canal CAG.  We make no representations as to the accuracy of the information presented.”  The disclaimer appears when someone hovers over the links on the home page.

Eric reported that he had not had an opportunity to draft a sample press release for circulation to the Committee, using the announcement of the Draft Settlement Agreement on retention-tank siting as a sample topic and already-approved language from resolutions as the basis for a release.  The intent of creating a sample release is to see if the CAG could respond quickly to developing situations or breaking news without having to seek approvals from the full CAG, using existing material.  Eric will aim to provide this prior to the next Outreach Committee meeting.

Discussion of Outreach Opportunities at EXPO Gowanus and Smith Street Fair

The Committee discussed the invitation from Christine Petro and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to staff a table at EXPO Gowanus on Saturday, May 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (more info here:, as well as an invitation from the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation to table at the Smith Street Fair on Sunday, June 26, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Eric agreed that he would staff the table at EXPO Gowanus, distributing the CAG’s previously approved two-sided flyer (featuring a description of the CAG and links to the CAG website and YouTube page as well as the EPA’s Gowanus Canal website and Facebook page on one side, and the cleanup timeline on the reverse) and providing a sign-up sheet for the email list for people who are interested in more information.  Volunteers are needed to staff the table at the Smith Street Fair.

The group discussed the existing CAG timeline of the cleanup to ensure that the information is still accurate.  Natalie said that the dates are still correct, though dredging would start in the First Street Basin rather than at the head of the canal.  Sabine agreed to forward a PDF copy of the two-sided flyer to Eric, and to make a number of color copies for distribution at EXPO Gowanus and for using to greet newcomers at CAG meetings.  Christine offered to print any needed signage in advance of EXPO Gowanus given a few days’ lead time.

Google Group

Natalie asked about membership in the CAG’s Google Group.  Eric reported that he’d sent invitations to CAG members along with Doug Sarno at this juncture, in case the group might want to discuss matters exclusive of the EPA.  [In retrospect, in order for EPA staff to communicate with the Group, they would need to be members of the the group, or a facilitator would have to approve non-member messages, so it makes sense to invite EPA staff to join as well.  As of June 9, 25 CAG members have joined the group.]

EPA Gowanus Website and CAG Website

Because the EPA has created a new website for the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup, some links on the CAG’s home page are no longer working: links to the Record of Decision and Community Update (both English and Spanish versions) in the center box beneath the home page banner.  Eric said he would look into fixing those.  In addition, there are a number of minor issues with the CAG website that still need to be resolved; Eric said he would reach out again to Josh Skaller for help.

Planning for Future Outreach

Sabine agreed to put together a calendar of annual events at which it would be appropriate for the CAG to do outreach.  Sabine also asked if the EPA’s self-guided walking tour of the Gowanus still existed, and Natalie reported that it did, and would share it with the Committee.

NYC DOT Presentation on Replacing the Union Street Bridge

The Committee briefly discussed the presentation that NYC DOT’s Bridges Division had made to Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee in April.  The EPA has been in contact with NYC DOT about the bridge-replacement project, and the Committee agreed it would be beneficial to have DOT give the presentation to the full CAG at the June meeting.

Action Items

  • Eric to draft and circulate sample press release.
  • Eric to staff table at EXPO Gowanus.
  • Volunteers needed to do outreach at Smith Street Fair (June 26, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
  • Eric to update links to EPA site on CAG home page.
  • Sabine to assemble calendar of outreach events/opportunities.
  • Eric to provide Doug with contact at NYC DOT Bridge Division for scheduling of Union Street Bridge presentation to full CAG.

Next Outreach Committee meeting: Thursday, June 9, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., at the Fifth Avenue Committee, 621 Degraw Street.

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