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
Michelle de la Uz
EPA Representatives Present
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.
Rezoning could include requirements for on-site control of sewage to maintain the integrity of the canal cleanup (not limited to directly adjacent properties but to the entire watershed).
EPA and DCP have met about the city’s PLACES study. EPA has not taken, nor will it take, a position on rezoning. Tank design takes into account generalized population growth, and DEP does recognize that the retention tanks cannot be retrofitted for additional capacity. The sizes of the tanks are based on projections and are considered ideal. New development will have to incorporate sewage and storm-water retention on-site to protect the integrity of the remedy.
Potential outline for a “Gowanus Superfund 101” public meeting:
– Nydia to give an update on Washington and the future of the EPA
– EPA to provide an overview of the work done to-date, and over the coming year
– DEP to provide an update on the retention tanks
– DCP to provide an overview on Gowanus rezoning
– Call to action to join the CAG or at least attend our meetings/use CAG for info
March 7th or 9th?
– Reach out to Doug to let him know what we’re planning.
– Send an update to the full CAG.
– Engage the Land Use and Water Quality committees.
Need to nail down Nydia’s availability. Sabine and Eric will shape an outline for the meeting and tasks.
For January retreat, each committee should provide a short overview about what they do and when they meet, in order to try to boost participation.
EXPO Gowanus 2017
Saturday, May 20th, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., in Thomas Greene Park and on Douglass Street adjacent to the park (street will be closed to vehicles).
Moving the EXPO into Gowanus for 2017. Aiming to make it much more of a community event.
Aiming for about 500 participants, including:
– Participating students, teachers and parents
– Gowanus-area/neighborhood residents and families
– People interested in getting involved/new to the neighborhood
Types of events and activities:
– Exhibits/Activity Stations – Expo-style, interactive tables by schools, community organizations, artists and agencies focused on Gowanus cleanup, revitalization, and planning. Students from local schools educate the public about water quality, green infrastructure, wildlife and public-space access.
– Park stewardship/Thomas Greene Park Clean & Green – Volunteer event in Thomas Greene Park or adjacent blocks. Volunteers organized by Gowanus Canal Conservancy with stewardship activities coordinated with Thomas Greene Park.
– Gowanus Blue – learn about green infrastructure techniques for homes and schools. Free rain barrels and instruction on how to install them at home or school.
– Gowanus Greenscape charrette – Neighborhood residents can weigh on what’s important for waterfront parks, neighborhood greening and public space.
– Additional Partner Activities – include existing spring event or festival-type activities to draw people, e.g., food vendors, games/sports, arts and crafts, gardening and plant-care workshops. What would draw in people from the surrounding neighborhood? What would make it a destination?
Some Topic Areas:
– Superfund – The canal is polluted by a history of industrial waste. Superfund cleanup process is underway and will take place from 2017 to 2022.
– CSOs – Combined sewer overflow is the most significant source of ongoing pollution affecting canal water quality. Everyone can help reduce pollution from CSOs. Here’s how we can make Gowanus blue.
– Stewardship – Thomas Greene Park is an important community asset and, like other parks, needs volunteer stewards to care for it.
– Neighborhood Planning – planning processes are underway for rezoning and waterfront access. Community stakeholders have a say in this process through city planning and Gowanus Greenscape.
– Sewage – As the future location for the CSO retention tank, the community should advocate for this important infrastructure to improve water quality in the part of the canal with the most concentrated pollution.
Expo Gowanus Schedule Benchmarks:
– January – Partners sign up to participate
– February – Confirm plans for exhibit or activity
– March to May – Outreach/Promotion