The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.
Committee Members present:
David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Katia Kelly, Rita Miller, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Triada Samaras, Deb Scotto, Sue Wolfe, Maryann Young
Terri Thomson, National Grid
Research was presented on the presence of mosquitos and rats in salt marshes and concerns were raised that this could be a community health concern in the Gowanus neighborhood.
It was pointed out that salt marshes clean/filter water through the process of phytoremediation and support wildlife that eat mosquitos.
Question: are there other salt marshes in NYC and have they increased the nearby mosquito and rat populations?
There are salt marshes in Inwood and Alley Pond.
It was agreed that further study is required to fully understand if there are community health impacts of new salt marshes.
The April 19 email from the NOAA Habitat Restoration Specialist, Carl Alderson was reviewed. A question was raised about whether Gowanus’s lost ecosystem (oysters, crabs, birds) that was partially re-established in the late 1990s when the pumping station was working could be restored under the NRDA.
Other points/questions on the applicability of the NRDA were raised including a) how to define a waterway that has been continuously damaged by its use for transport and industry (e.g. coal tar and CSOs) and b) what level of cleanliness is required by the Clean Water Act and how does this fit into NRDA requirements?
One “big idea” is to implement infrastructure projects across the Gowanus watershed to help eliminate CSOs.
For proposed infrastructure projects under the NRDA, can a maintenance budget be included?
Another big idea: creating a Gowanus Museum that speaks to the political and community will to create a restored Gowanus ecosystem. The museum could include a history of the canal, a research center, information related to the Superfund cleanup, etc. Honeywell’s Onondaga Lake Visitors Center is a good example and was designed and built by Honeywell to provide the public with access to the significant work taking place by scientists, engineers, and skilled craft laborers from the surrounding area.
Committee will decide how to best present these and other questions/suggestions to the NRDA trustees.