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Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street



Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35 p.m.

The July meeting summary was approved with no revisions.


Project Updates

Natalie Loney, EPA, presented the updates:

  • At the June CAG meeting, there was a question about the PRP group contact list. The list has not been updated yet. Once EPA receives it, it will be emailed out to the CAG.
  • Bulkhead collapse: Langon Engineering will be addressing this latest collapse and this is the same company working with Lowe’s. There is a pre-stabilization report underway, similar to what is happening at the previous collapse. A full site condition report will then be prepared. EPA has no more details as to how it happened right now.
  • The PRP group is set to mobilize into the 4th St Basin on August 22 or August 24.

Questions and Answers:

CAG Member: Will work on the 4th Street Basin occur during the weekend? The Dredgers are planning a “Gowanus Challenge” canoe and kayak event on the canal between the Carroll and Fourth Street bridges.
EPA: We do not know the work schedule yet; we will talk with the Dredgers.

CAG Member: Regarding eminent domain and the property that Alloy was going to develop – if it is going to be taken by eminent domain anyway, why do a brownfield clean up?
EPA: We don’t know the answer to that. The City is in the process of acquiring this property.

CAG Member: The Newtown Creek CAG unveiled new great multi-lingual “don’t eat” street signs (paid for by the PRPs); now that there is a template, can we create similar signs along the Canal?
EPA: There are signs at some of the outfalls.

CAG Member: Were the signs at Newtown a result of a community request?
EPA: Yes. The EPA team did a walk-through and determined how many were necessary. An EPA contractor installed and put them up – they are nicer than the CSO signs because they include EPA on them and appear more official. Signs have not been formally requested at Gowanus. A committee would need to write a resolution

CAG Member: Is there any way for EPA to start laying groundwork for that because it would be past September 26 before it could happen (A Water Quality Committee resolution to create and implement these signs is scheduled).

CAG Member: What is the Length of time for 4th Street Basin work?
EPA: At least several months because they first have to shore up the bulkheads. The work will be conducted similarly to the debris removal, and there will be a fact sheet for the community while the work is happening.

CAG Member: At the Power House site, the vegetation has been cleared away except for the largest cottonwood – do we know that that tree will remain? Can it stay?
EPA: We need to look into it, because I do not know the rationale for why it wasn’t cleared.

CAG Member: Will you be removing the boom or weir?
EPA: We will look into that and get you an answer.

Committee Reports

There will be no committee meetings in August.


No meeting.


These two committees merged and are now meeting concurrently. There will be joint minutes released if the facilitation meeting is open to it.

The CAG communication plan should be ready for discussion and approval by the CAG at the September meeting.

There is a two-page document and the Facilitation/Outreach team came up with social media and communication strategy as to who should be the voice or face of the CAG. The group decided there is no one voice; attention should be brought to the whole and what the group does, not just one person. No one should speak to media on behalf of the CAG without CAG approval.

One thing people can do right away to change social media presence is to refer to the CAG. Instagram #GowanusCAG, Twitter handle is @GowanusCAG.

The CAG does not have an Instagram handle, but will use multiple images when #(hashtag) pops up and collects data or records.

Created new structured press releases with a new template and will make sure press contacts are up to date.

EPA’s Gowanus Facebook page will be used as a resource. We plan to release the resolutions there and to the press and just repost and stay dedicated to posting and reposting.

Will tweet basic information, for example about this meeting. Also someone should be able to post relevant articles to the web site. There is still a question about who is going to be responsible for Twitter and Facebook.

EPA has a social media person and uses it when it can be used well – some events/things are more “tweetable” than others. The CAG can tag the Region 2 EPA account, too (CAG could retweet and vice-versa).

We’re getting to a point where the project is going to be moving fast and have a lot of action and activity. The CAG needs to be prepared to have a social media presence to give updates on the work happening and incorporate that into board responsibilities.

Questions and Answers

CAG Member: What are all the upcoming tasks? Can EPA share a timeline to keep the CAG more aware for things that are possible events for CAG social media updates?
EPA: The more activities on the canal, the more difficult it is to provide a basic schedule, but EPA will try.

A public event is being planned as part of the new communication strategy to unveil what is about to happen with the Gowanus cleanup. The CAG will be coordinating with Nydia Velazquez’s office to schedule a date. This event would include an overview of the CAG and 1) status of clean up, 2) what has happened to date, 3) activities that will happen over the next couple of years, and 4) the Canal health assessment.

There is a Congressional recess the week of October 16th, so we will work to find a new date that works.

The CAG would like to have fact sheets to help inform people who might not come to CAG meetings but do come to this town hall event and other functions.

The EPA Facebook page has 650 members from all over the country. The hope is that the EPA will tag the CAG when including Gowanus work, especially on Twitter.

Land Use

We agreed to tweet out general meeting minutes and non-opinions.

Discussed locations that need NRDA restoration and identified 10 sites.

Developed a resolution about identifying sites under consideration for the temporary pool facility location at Thomas Greene Park and those minutes are posted on the website.

Temporary sites would be posted prior to the demolition of the pool and Land Use Committee wants to know where the relocations will be.

Water Quality/Technical

Concerned about the NYSDOH fact sheet that indicates certain crabs and fish are safe to eat at a fairly high level in the canal and believes it needs to be rectified. Where did DOH get data that says anything is edible? The City says that the canal is swimmable but EPA says don’t go swimming. DOH says crabs are consumable; is the EPA planning on saying please don’t eat the crabs?

EPA: EPA’s swimming concern is not limited to bio-hazard exposure, but also include barge traffic, cleanup activities in the canal, and other physical hazards.

Summary of Actions/Motions

  • EPA will provide the PRP list
  • EPA will get an answer regarding the Cottonwood Tree removal on Powerhouse Site
  • EPA will get an answer about removing the boom or weir along 4th Street Site

The meeting adjourned at 7:25 PM

CAG Members Present

Dave Briggs
Diane Buxbaum
Justin Collins (alternate for David Meade)
Beverly Corbin
Sean Dixon
Marlene Donnelly
Rafael Gomez de Luna
Ben Jones
Linda Mariano
Eric McClure
Lizzie Olesker
Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Buddy Scotto
Brad Vogel
Maryann Young (alternate for Rita Miller)


EPA and CAG Support

Doug Sarno, Facilitator
Natalie Loney, EPA

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