Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street


Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35.

The October meeting summary was approved with no revisions.

Townhall Meeting Recap

The town hall was long in planning with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s office. For those on the CAG this information was well known, but for the outsiders it was good information. EPA staff were great and it was also helpful to meet the new EPA regional administrator. The main purpose was to provide community information and broaden the reach of the CAG. This is a big step in adding communication to the community as a CAG function.

Natalie Loney, EPA: agree it was a great success and good to see a lot of new people attend. People who had never come to a CAG meeting, or have not been engaged since the last big public meeting. In regard to comments, there was a question of how people would address the comment/question cards. We need to come up with a response to how questions from the public should be addressed

Project Updates

Christos Tsiamis, EPA Remedial Project Manager

First, about the November 16 town hall, it was a great outreach effort by the CAG. Kudos to those who worked hard on it, especially the outreach committee. At the last meeting I challenged the community to help people take care of the Gowanus and not pollute it. In response, the Dredgers put up signs saying not to pollute, and I was pleasantly surprised. Keep up the good work.

EPA received the 65% design for the upper part of the canal just before Thanksgiving and is reviewing it. EPA will not be starting the pilot at the beginning of December because of some unanticipated work related to the bulkheads. It will be starting in early January.

EPA has been meeting with the City for their part of the design for the underground CSO storage tanks. One is for design of the tanks, and this will start by 2020 if the city meets stipulations of the order. EPA is also working with the city for the design, excavation, and restoration of the canal and canal infrastructure.

Read more »

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present:

David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Katia Kelly, Louis Kleinman, Hildegaard Link, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Maryann Young

Guests present:

Terri Thompson, National Grid

Item 1

The committee will not meet in January.


None required.

Item 2

The disposition of the building at 234 Butler Street (corner of Butler and Nevins) and how it will be impacted by the headhouse/retention tank facility was discussed. Some committee members expressed concern that the building would be demolished.


None required.

Item 3

Conversation expanded to address how the rezoning, remediation of coal tar under the Thomas Greene Park pool, and possible relocation of the headhouse/retention tank facility to the park will impact the neighborhood and its residents.

The committee drafted goals to help the community better understand and possibly mitigate the impacts:

  • Preserve 234 Butler Street building
  • Create accessible community space large enough for local groups
  • Provide active recreation space above the retention tanks
  • Require community input as part of visioning process for the neighborhood. Invite design team to participate
  • Request DEP to share preliminary designs and concepts for the headhouse/retention tank facility.
  • Develop/solicit design options for temporary pool


Dave will reach out to CB6 and formulate a request to the Borough President and Councilmember Levin’s offices for a community visioning process.

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street


Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35.

The September meeting summary was approved with no revisions.


Project Updates (Christos Tsiamis, EPA Remedial Project Manager)

EPA has started prep work on the pilot study, which will start a little over a month from now. They’ve opened the tunnel of the 4th street basin so equipment can get in. Today they’ve begun the sheet piling that is required to start the dredging and capping. Dredging should commence at the beginning of December, and they should complete the pilot in the spring of 2018, when for the first time in over a century a portion of the canal will have a clean bottom.

They’ll remove all the toxins that have accumulated for a century and a half and remove and replace a brand new bottom with clean material. Once we have the results from this pilot, EPA will finalize a design for the entire canal. Then we will clean out the canal from the top to the bottom.

Fourth Street Turning Basin Dredging and Capping Pilot Project

More details on the pilot study were provided by David Himmelheber of Geosyntec, the contractor working on the design. Dave presented a number of slides to give sense of what the work will look, smell, and sound like over the next few months.

Read more »

Uniform Land Use Review Procedure Public Hearing – Gowanus Canal CSO Facility

Pursuant to Section 201 of the New York City Charter, the Brooklyn Borough Board will hold a public hearing on the matter of the proposed Gowanus Canal CSO Facility in the Community Room of Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, commencing at 6:00 PM on November 27, 2017. The Gowanus Canal CSO Facility is the second of two items on the agenda.

Calendar Item 2 –– Gowanus Canal CSO Facility (180065 PCK)

An application submitted by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), pursuant to Section 197-c of the New York City Charter, for the selection and acquisition of three privately owned parcels on a site at the head of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn Community District 6 (CD 6). Such actions would facilitate the construction of a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) control facility at 242 Nevins Street and 234 Butler Street through site acquisition, with a staging area at 270 Nevins Street that would be leased by the City.

Note: To request a sign language interpreter, or to request Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) services, and/or foreign language interpretation in accordance with Local Law 30, please contact Land Use Coordinator Inna Guzenfeld at (718) 802-3754 or iguzenfeld@brooklynbp.nyc.gov prior to the hearing.

The Gowanus Canal was designated a federal Superfund site in 2010, which initiated a complex, multi-year clean-up. Dredging has started this fall in the 4th Street turning basin and will continue in 2018.

Come to this public meeting for information about the canal clean-up, timeline and what to expect. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez will give a keynote, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will present an overview and timeline. An audience Q&A session will follow the presentation.

Please RSVP via Eventbrite.

At the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center, 272 Wyckoff Street, in Brooklyn.

At its September 26, 2017 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution, originally proposed by the CAG’s Land Use Committee.

Resolution on Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Process for the Gowanus Canal and its Surrounding Environs

Whereas the EPA Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group [CAG] seeks the best possible environmental restoration for the canal and its environs, and an Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) of the Gowanus Superfund site was conducted by the EPA;

Resolved, the CAG urges the Natural Resource trustees conducting a Damage Assessment to consider the preliminary sites listed below for actions promoting environmental restoration proposals that have a direct beneficial impact on the canal and its environs.

Preliminary Sites:

• Salt Lot
• Lowes Bulkhead/ Home Depot Waterfront
• Edge of Pathmark Site Along Canal
• Gowanus Bay Terminal
• Street Ends & Turning Basins
• Public Place Waterfront
• Carroll Park & Thomas Greene Playground
• Under the Tracks Playground
• RTA-1 site
• Sunset Park Piers
• Gowanus Canal Bed
• NYCHA and other publicly-owned properties within the watershed
• Bush Terminal Park

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street


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

The August meeting summary was approved with no revisions.

The Gowanus Town Hall with Nydia Velázquez was tentatively re-scheduled for 11/16.

Project Updates (Christos Tsiamis, EPA Remedial Project Manager)

The second phase of the pilot study in the 4th Street Basin will begin in early October, not in August as previously scheduled. The potentially responsible parties (PRP) will conduct the activities associated with this project. The first phase of the work was conducted last year to remove debris; this phase is designed to study the planned dredging and capping system according to the clean up plan.

There will be equipment and barges in the 4th Street Basin. Preparatory dredging to create enough space to allow access for more equipment further into the 4th Street Basin is planned to begin October 5. The first activities will be to stabilize the shores. Bulkhead work should occur between 10/23 and 10/31 and continue into November. By the first week of December, dredging should be ready to begin. The dredging will occur over at least two months, capping should take place by the end of April or beginning of May 2018. During this work, there will be some barges moored in the canal and the canal will be narrowed, so you won’t be able to access the 4th Street Basin next to Public Place.

EPA will conduct a meeting with the PRPs in November to discuss the 65% design for the cleanup activities related to the dredging and the capping of the upper portion of the Canal. By this design phase, the scientific and engineering questions (e.g. what kind of cap, how will the sediment be treated, where will the sediment go) have to be answered.

By November, the designs of the upper canal bulkheads that have not been completed or planned by private groups will also be released. The PRP group will submit a draft final bulkhead design by mid October.

The aim is to use results from the 4th Street Basin pilot as lessons and apply them to the entire area. EPA will incorporate lessons from the pilot into the 95% design scheduled for February 2019. EPA will try to share the lessons learned from the pilot while the studies are being conducted and compiled. There are lengthy internal reviews.

New York City government’s role in the cleanup may look something like that at the 1st Street Basin, where the city took measurements, did work, and incorporated measures for EPA to review.

Quite a bit of contaminated soil removal is about to be completed at the Powerhouse site. A cap was installed there and reviewed by Brian and Christos from the EPA. This cap is more stringent than NYS Brownfields policy requires for site development, as EPA requires additional work to prove whether any contamination will continue there.

Read more »

Earlier this month, contractors working for the Environmental Protection Agency began work on a dredging and capping pilot study in the Gowanus Canal’s 4th Street Turning Basin.

The process involves installation of steel sheeting in front of existing bulkheads, followed by dredging of contaminated sediment from the canal, before the installation of a multi-layered protective cap at the bottom of the canal.

The EPA expects to complete this pilot effort in the Spring of 2018. The results of the study will be used to evaluate and finalize the elements for the dredging and capping of the entire canal.

Download a complete fact sheet here: 4th Street Dredging Factsheet FINAL


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.

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