At its December 27, 2022 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution, initiated by the Land Use Committee, demanding that the New York City Department of Buildings, New York City Office of Environmental Remediation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, New York City Department of City Planning, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Department of Health, and EPA Region 2 formalize a process for oversight and communication for all remediation and construction work taking place in the Gowanus neighborhood.
The resolution reads as follows:
Resolved, the CAG urgently demands that the agencies addressed above immediately formalize competent, transparent and inclusive communications and oversight about all remediation and construction work in the Gowanus neighborhood. This must include:
BEFORE ANY CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
- Setting and communicating clear requirements and penalties for construction hours and community notice for all permitted construction;
- Transparent and accessible communication to, and coordination with, all agencies, elected officials and Community Board 6 before, during and after all planned construction activities, including details about environmental monitoring protocols and results; and
- Providing an accessible database of all local permitted construction activities.
DURING ANY CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
- Taking immediate action to stop construction activities that are unpermitted, taking place outside required hours or potentially creating environmental hazards for on-site workers or the surrounding community; and
- Providing a 24/7 contact number for community concerns, and cataloging all concerns.
We are concerned about the unanticipated pile driving activity by the private owner that began on Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 475 and 463 Smith Street in Brooklyn, Parcel 3, the former Citizen’s Manufacturing Gas Site, a known polluted area which is both a state brownfield site and part of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Superfund Site. The pile driving caused intense vibrations, intense noises, and emitted a coal tar smell. No advance notice of pending construction was received by any elected officials, EPA, Community Board 6, or the community from any agency or entity. The public deserves to know when any aspect of construction is taking place in an environmentally fragile area—particularly a highly toxic marshland full of coal tar which spreads in every direction through the site—and what oversight measures have been made to protect them from the toxicity at the site.
This community is about to undergo the development of many new buildings as a result of a major rezoning. The Gowanus rezoning was approved contingent upon a list of conditions the community expected to be fulfilled, especially with regard to the integrity of the Superfund remedy to ensure the health and safety of existing and future residents. Failure to communicate about this recent pile driving does not bode well for the public trust which needs to be repaired. Competent and transparent communications are critical for the accountability demanded by the Community Board and local residents and agreed to by the City.
Click here to view a PDF version of the full resolution.