The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street.

CAG Attendees: Sabine Aronowsky, Christine Petro, Eric McClure

Guests: Benjamin Solotaire, Jennifer Jones


10th Anniversary Event
• Updates to the Timeline

Jennifer knows someone who lives in the neighborhood who does data visualization for the New York Times – might be a good resource for the timeline redesign.

Benjamin: North Gowanus Visioning Group meeting next on January 28th.

Replicating the Double D pool exactly will be difficult; siting the temporary pool within a reasonable distance from its current location will be a challenge without some tradeoffs. Sabine mentioned that Goldfish, a private pool operator, has opened recently in the neighborhood, and could be a possible temporary solution.

Tank site design still has some flexibility.

Haven’t been in touch with DEP about anything in particular. Demolition should start in the next couple months.

Council Member Levin is still planning to host a February/March informational meeting to provide the community with an overview of the CSO tank plan, construction process, 234 Butler preservation. Contingent on acceptance of the design by EPA. Haven’t chosen a firm date yet.

ULURP agreement includes creation of a construction watchdog group, which needs to be in place by the time that demolition starts. Benjamin and Eric will check with CB6 about the task force.

Sabine is willing to compile a video montage of CAG and cleanup history and take the lead on pulling visuals.

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The Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG) on February 5th submitted a formal request for water reclassification, or a “reclass petition,” to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Division of Water, Bureau of Water Assessment and Management.

The CAG seeks to reclassify the surface waters of the Gowanus Canal, north of Hamilton Avenue, through the State’s formal rule-making process, from the current industrial designation of Class-SD to Class-I, in order to require more stringent regulatory oversight and enforcement for improved water quality.

The CAG has requested that the Gowanus Canal be given a water classification that will be reflective of ongoing investments in water quality improvement, including the federally mandated Superfund clean-up, and recent and proposed infrastructure investments; is protective of its current recreational uses which include primary and secondary contact; supports the abundance of aquatic flora and fauna living in the Canal, including substantial fish populations in a variety of life stages; and ensures public health and safety in light of a proposed rezoning that will bring new residential development requiring public access at the waterfront.

To see the CAG’s request for water reclassification in its entirety, including our letter to NYS DEC, the formal petition, letters of support from elected officials, and supporting documents, please click here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New York District, in cooperation with non-federal sponsors the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, has announced a public meeting for the New York New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Study on February 27, 2020 in Rockaway Park, Queens. 

According to USACE, the coastal storm risk management study covers the New York and New Jersey Harbor and tidally affected tributaries encompassing all of New York City, the Hudson River north to Troy; the lower Passaic, Hackensack, Rahway, and Raritan Rivers; and the Upper and Lower Bays of New York Harbor, Newark, Jamaica, Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays; the Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill and East River tidal straits; and western Long Island Sound. 

The study is authorized by a 1955 law that directs the examination of damages in coastal and tidal areas due to coastal storms, such as hurricanes, “and of possible means of preventing loss of human lives and damages to property, with due consideration of the economics of proposed breakwaters, seawalls, dikes, dams, and other structures, warning services, or other measures which might be required.”  

At the meeting, the USACE will update stakeholders and the public on tasks underway since the release of an interim report in February, 2019.  One key task is the development of new preliminary data from USACE hydrodynamic modeling, which identifies possible induced flooding extents, including the Rockaway area, and consideration of measures to minimize, avoid or mitigate any and all induced flooding that may result from conceptual alternatives.  

Meeting details are as follows:

Thursday, February 27, 2020 
(Rain/snow date of Thursday, March 05, 2020: In case of postponement due to a forecast of inclement weather, an e-mail announcement will be made by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 26th, and information will be posted on the project website.)

Beach Channel Educational Campus
100-00 Beach Channel Drive
Rockaway Park, NY 11694
(The meeting will be in the auditorium; enter through the main entrance on Beach Channel Drive.)

Welcome:  5:00 p.m.
Initial Presentation:  5:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Questions and Discussion:  6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Presentation Recap:  7:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Further Questions and Discussion:  7:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it is issuing an administrative order requiring the start of the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal.

The EPA cited the order as a major milestone in the cleanup of the site. It covers the cleanup of roughly the upper third of the canal, designated as Remediation Target Area, or RTA, 1, as well as the 1st Street turning basin.

The work required by the administrative order includes the full-scale dredging and capping of RTA 1, as well as full restoration of the 1st Street turning basin, which is currently filled in.

According to the press release issued today by the EPA, the work will cost an estimated $125 million, and should take about two-and-a-half years to complete. Work is projected to begin in September of this year, contingent upon the completion of necessary upgrades to canal bulkheads.

You can read the complete EPA press release here.

To see the EPA’s Administrative Order in its entirety, please click here.

Please join us for our first General Meeting of 2020, on Tuesday, January 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens. All of our meetings are open to the public.

DRAFT AGENDA  (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:40 PM:     Welcome and Introductions 

6:45 – 7:15 PM:     USEPA Project Updates

  • Q&A

7:15 – 7:45 PM:     Overview of USACE Storm Barrier Study

  • Riverkeeper & Water Quality/Technical Committee
  • Q&A

7:45 – 8:15 PM:     CAG Committee Issues and Updates

  • Admin Committee (membership update)
  • Land Use Committee
  • Outreach Committee 
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Water Quality and Technical Committee
  • Leadership Committee

8:15 PM:  Announcements

8:30 PM:  Adjourn

Join the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a public meeting on the Citywide & East River/Open Waters Long Term Control Plan (LTCP). The goal of the LTCP is to better understand the water quality impacts of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and to evaluate various CSO controls.  

The meeting will include a presentation and discussion on the LTCP’s Recommended Plan. NYC DEP seeks public input before the plan is submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in March 2020.

For more information, please visit Citywide & East River/Open Waters or download the Plan Summary.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM EST

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law
2 Court Square
West Auditorium – 2nd Floor
Queens, NY 11101
View Map

Register via Eventbrite.

Gowanus CAG Administration Committee meeting, January 15, 2020
Held in the Carroll Park Park House.

Ben Jones
Maryann Young
Katia Kelly
Rita Miller (on the phone)

1) The first item on the agenda was to change the language of one proposal to a Charter change previously brought to the full Gowanus CAG.

At the December 2019 meeting, the CAG passed ALL the proposed language changes to the Charter, but wanted us to tighten the language on one point.
Below is the paragraph we need to review. It was felt that the first two points were way too much for committees to realistically implement.
It was suggested that we change the language to “reasonable efforts shall be made for committees to maintain written record of the drafting process” and lose “all relevant discussion and change/edit history.”
It was also suggested that we clarify in the two last points that everything needs to be submitted to the full CAG seven days prior to the upcoming CAG general meeting. I have already edited that in bold.

Read more »

Proposed Agenda: 

  • NYS Superfund Cleanup Work at MGP’s
  • Reclassification Petition UPDATE
    Waiting on letter of support to submit
  • Jan 8 NYS DEC hearing on reclassification standards;  open public comment period through Jan 13
  • Army Corp Presentation to CAG – coordination update
  • Committee Administrative updates – attendance, procedures for 2020


Marlene Donnelly
Peter Reich
Diane Buxbaum
Katia Kelly
Eymund Diegel
Terri Thomson
Louis Kleinman
Amy Motzny
Kelsey Butterworth
Richard Lawrence 

Summary and Follow-up Items 

NYS Superfund Cleanup Work at MGP’s:

  • WQ/Technical Committee concern about remediation process and long-term impact of development on MGP sites. Committee to invite DEC, NYS DOH, and National Grid to present on technical aspects of the process to the CAG at January or February general meeting.  
  • It was suggested that a brownfield tech specialist and/or an environmental scientist be present to provide an exact description of the cleanup and capping and the long-term monitoring for (a) runoff and (b) human health issues – both on land and air, and his/her analysis of the cleanup/capping as being sufficient to protect human health.
    • Marlene to coordinate with Doug on dates 
    • Amy to circulate initial list of technical questions for committee review; send to DEC before CAG presentation 

Water Reclassification Petition:

  • Waiting on letters of support from the following:

    Committed but not received*
    JoAnne Simon – State Assembly District 52
    Felix Ortiz- State Assembly District 51
    Brad Lander – NYC City Council District 39
    Steve Levin – NYC City Council District 33

    No Response*:
    Velmanette Montgomery- State Senate District 25
    Zellnor Myrie – State Senate District 20
    Nydia Velazquez – US Congressional District 7
    Carlos Menchaca – NYC City Council District 38
  • CAG to send final petition by end of January with whatever letters are received at that point. 
  • Kelsey to reach out to Menchaca’s office 
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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street.

CAG Attendees: Sabine Aronowsky, Christine Petro, Eric McClure, Jessica Roff

Guests: Natalie Loney, Benjamin Solotaire, Terri Thomson


– 90% design of RTA1 clean up
 – Can EPA produce fact sheet?

– 90% sewage tank design 
 – What is the public input process?
 – Can EPA produce fact sheet?

– Fulton Cut-Off wall 
 – any discussion needed? Do we want to ask about the tugboat sinking or any project updates?

– CAG 10th Anniversary
 – what are the goals? (re-engaging old members, engaging new members, celebrating milestones?)
 – What are the outputs?  report/event 
 – Who should be engaged? 

Natalie: According to Christos, the current plan is to start dredging during the fall of 2020.

Estimated two years to dredge and cap Remedial Target Area (RTA) 1, and if all goes well, subsequent two years each for RTA 2 and RTA 3. Same process and sequence of events as the pilot effort in the 4th Street Basin.

Can the CAG create a stand-alone RTA1 timeline? Probably more helpful than the full (and now cluttered) existing timeline document. Jessica suggests that the full timeline might work better as a tri-fold.

EPA will produce an RTA1 Fact Sheet at a point closer to the beginning of work. Cut-off wall construction should begin this month, and target completion is August 2020. Must be done before RTA1 cleanup work begins.

Read more »

Last month Terri put together a meeting on the phone with NYSDEC. 

Water Quality FOILed information about some of what was said, re: 20,000 waterbodies and not enough time.

Since 2012, when the CAG submitted a resolution requesting reclassification of the Gowanus Canal, there have been eight requests for reclassification submitted to NYSDEC; four of them were in the past year. 

Link to FOIL documents:

The response was very similar to what they’ve consistently told the CAG.

One of the applications was 54 pages with absolute detail. 

There are three agency response letters that don’t say anything. 

We need another strategy that is more political – this isn’t just us – there is a unit to do reclassifications – do they just not move them? 

When you submit a reclassification application, they don’t respond with something pertinent. They want the applicant to provide all this information and wait. 

It’d be different if they said, “thanks, we’ll get to this in 35 years.”

They mimicked what they said on the phone – there’s nothing concrete that will help us figure out when or how to reclassify the waterway. 

Where were the ones that submitted? One in the Finger Lakes with lots of waterbodies in it, most in the Hudson Valley, more initiated by resident associations. 

I was thinking of asking how many have they reclassified without community input next. What bodies and how they were reclassified. Are there any internal processes/departmental processes?

The lake submissions were a little different because of freshwater/drinking water. Land use change is an initiator but obviously not prioritized. 

Sounds like less emphasis on this to be a huge comprehensive resource when we turn it in. 

Would be worth contacting Jo Anne Simon? Yes, is it worth asking the State Assemblywoman to be the petitioner? 

Once we have the application/materials ready, let’s have a resolution to the whole CAG to agree with what we’ve put together, and to have Jo Anne Simon submit it. 

Read more »