At its September 24, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution calling on the EPA to finalize a Programmatic Agreement or Memorandum of Agreement covering the Gowanus Superfund site pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
The resolution, addressed to the EPA, Gowanus Canal Superfund Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), reads as follows:
The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that the EPA and the PRPs, as well as any contractors employed by them, refrain from proceeding with demolition, site clearance, or any other tangible preparations for the creation of the cut-off wall proposed for the east side of the Gowanus Canal above the Union Street Bridge or any other demolition, excavation, or bulkhead replacement activity along the Gowanus Canal until such time as the EPA has finalized a Programmatic Agreement (PA) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) covering the Gowanus Superfund site’s entire area of potential effects pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Be it further Resolved:
The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that EPA, the PRPs, and SHPO conduct consultation pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act as follows prior to finalizing any PA or MOA and prior to proceeding with any demolition or further site work:
1. Email all potentially interested parties, including federally recognized indigenous tribes, to determine if they would like to serve as consulting parties.
2. Notice and hold two consultation meetings (one during the day, one in the evening) that are solely held for the purpose of Section 106 consultation, open to the public, and specifically noticed to those parties that have indicated they would like to be consulting parties. The meetings should be held in Gowanus, not in an adjacent area, and they should be widely advertised in local media outlets by EPA.
3. The consultation process should result in written feedback from EPA, the PRPs, and SHPO regarding any specific suggestions by the consulting parties as to potential ways to minimize, avoid, or mitigate adverse effects anticipated for historic resources in the area of potential effects.
To date, an MOA* has been created for signature by both EPA and SHPO that addresses the proposed effects from the two proposed Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) tanks, one to be built at the head of the Canal and one to be built near the middle of the Canal on the Salt Lot site.
The vast remaining bulk of the Gowanus Canal and its turning basins, however, including currently filled-in turning basins set for excavation, have not had a formal document signed pursuant to Section 106 with respect to mitigating, avoiding, or minimizing adverse effects on historic resources. The Gowanus Canal itself, including its bulkheads, has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, as well as numerous structures in the immediate vicinity of the Canal.
The pilot project in the Fourth Street Turning Basin occurred before a PA or MOA has been put in place for any historic resources that stood to be impacted. Multiple properties surrounding the pilot site were impacted, with at least one building suffering physical damage.
This resolution seeks compliance with a requirement of federal law before additional work proceeds.
*It is unclear whether this MOA has been finalized with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation or not; the CAG has not seen anything further beyond the February 2019 draft and DEP’s subsequent objection to part of that draft.
NYC Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, District 38
NYC Councilmember Brad Lander, District 39
NYC Councilmember Stephen Levin, District 33
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
Sarah Carroll, Chair, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
Walter Mugdan, Superfund Division Director, USEPA
Christos Tsiamis, Gowanus Canal RPM, USEPA
Natalie Loney, Gowanus Canal CIC, USEPA