The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced that it had finalized an agreement with New York City for the siting and design of an 8,000,000-gallon retention tank at the head end of the Gowanus Canal, intended to significantly reduce the flow of untreated waste water into the canal during combined sewer overflow events.

The EPA’s full press release is below.

EPA Finalizes Agreement with New York City on Combined Sewer Overflow Tank Design

Contact: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y. – June 9, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized an agreement with the City of New York that secures the design of the larger of two combined sewage and storm water overflow (CSO) retention tanks, which are key components of the Gowanus Canal cleanup, including both the tank’s size and location. It also requires New York City to undertake activities to prepare that location for the tank installation and to pay EPA’s oversight costs. Prior to finalizing the agreement with New York City, the EPA accepted comments from the public for 45 days and attended two Brooklyn community meetings to explain the proposal. A response to the public comments has been issued with the final order.

The final administrative agreement and order released today allows New York City to locate an eight million gallon retention tank in New York City’s preferred location, known as the “Head-of-Canal” location, but it also holds the city to a strict schedule with monetary penalties imposed if violations of the schedule occur. Also, the EPA can require New York City to place the tank in the Thomas Greene Park location instead if certain activities do not occur on schedule, including if New York City is not able to acquire the land at the Head-of-Canal location within approximately four years. Locations for staging and other work related to the construction of the 8 million gallon retention tank will be acquired by New York City as part of the ongoing design phase of the project.

“The New York City Parks Department prefers not to have a large sewage retention tank permanently located in a city park,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The EPA is committed to preserving urban parkland and worked with the City of New York on this alternate location. This alternate location meets the dual goals of cleaning up the canal while also protecting urban parkland.” Read more »

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

Introductions and CAG Updates

Many CAG members attended the April 25 public meeting on the tank-siting agreement. The comments are on record but tonight’s discussion will not be on record. The formal transcript will take at least two weeks to complete but the CAG will be putting a full unedited video of the meeting online in the next few days.

There is a documentary film team present tonight. They have been filming a long-term project called Gowanus Current, documenting changes in the neighborhood and the lives of people who live and work here and occasionally attend and film CAG meetings.

Two resolutions tonight and procedural issues.

 

Outreach Committee Requests

The Committee presented four procedural items for CAG discussion and agreement. The CAG approved all four items:

  1. Reactivate and adopt the CAG Google Group. This will help to consolidate group correspondence. This will be a closed group consisting of the CAG membership, not the full CAG email list. We can also explore establishing committee sub-groups.
  2. Implement and use the @GowanusCAG Twitter account. This will be used to share information posted to the CAG website, such as announcing meetings and approved materials, just factual info, not editorial or third-party content.
  3. Include link to EPA’s Gowanus Facebook page on the CAG homepage. The Facebook page is managed by Natalie Loney. The link will include a CAG disclaimer.
  4. Include a link to the CAG YouTube page on CAG homepage. Again with a disclaimer. This provides a place to post useful videos such as we are doing with the 4/25 public meeting.

 

The March 29, 2016 Minutes were approved.

Read more »

Did you miss the EPA’s public meeting on April 25 at which they presented the proposed settlement agreement with New York City for the siting of an 8-million-gallon CSO retention tank at the head end of the Gowanus Canal? If so, you can view the EPA’s presentation here.

You can also watch a video of the entire meeting on our YouTube page, or read the complete, official transcript of the meeting here.

The EPA will be accepting public comments on the terms of the agreement (which you can see in full here) until May 31. You can submit comments by mail or email to:

Walter Mugdan, U.S. EPA Superfund Director
290 Broadway, Floor 19
New York, N.Y., 10007
mugdan.walter@epa.gov

 

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

CAG Members present: David Briggs, Marlene Donnelly, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Andrea Parker, Buddy Scotto, Debra Scotto, Mark Shames, Sue Wolfe, Maryann Young

Guests: Terri Thompson, National Grid

Item 1

Review of March 1, 2016 meeting minutes.

Action

Minutes approved.

Item 2

The Department of Sanitation of New York [DSNY] is planning to build a compost facility and a salt storage shed at the Salt Lot, which is the planned site of a retention tank. There is confusion about why DSNY is proceeding with this work in light of the EPA’s comments at the January CAG meeting that the retention tank installations could move forward. All agreed that the design and installation of both retention tanks should proceed expeditiously and be completed prior to the dredging.

Action

Andrea and Dave will draft a resolution requesting the EPA to move forward with the OH-007 retention-tank design process and construction schedule. The draft will be circulated to the committee for review and comment. Read more »

Did you miss the April 25 EPA hearing on the draft settlement agreement with New York City for siting of the CSO retention tank at the head of the Gowanus Canal? You can watch the entirety of the EPA’s presentation, and comments made in response to it by members of the public, below.

The video is also available at the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s YouTube page.

[Disclaimer: The contents of this video, and other videos posted on the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s YouTube page, are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the CAG. We make no representations as to the accuracy of the information contained therein.]

To read more about the draft settlement agreement, please click here.

The EPA is accepting public comments on the terms of the agreement until May 31. You can submit comments by mail or email to:

Walter Mugdan, U.S. EPA Superfund Director
290 Broadway, Floor 19
New York, N.Y., 10007
mugdan.walter@epa.gov

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, Carroll Gardens

Introductions and CAG Updates

  • It was noted that 21 full and alternate members were present at the start of the meeting representing a quorum. A 4/5 majority of those present is necessary to pass resolutions. Alternates have voting status if the members they’re representing are absent, but otherwise cannot be counted toward any votes.
  • Ed Tyre from Gowanus Residents Association attended and indicated the organization’s intent to re-engage membership on the CAG and attend future meetings.
  • February minutes were distributed to all members with the agenda; no changes were suggested. The motion to adopt the minutes was approved with 18 in favor, 2 abstentions.

EPA Update (Natalie Loney, Community Involvement Coordinator, EPA Region 2)

  • EPA is still in the process of selecting the site for the retention tanks. The decision will be announced soon but there is no exact date.

Questions and Answers

CAG Member: When will selection be made?
Loney: We don’t know. There are still things that have to be resolved.

CAG Member: I thought EPA was going to start dredging and not wait on the tanks decision.
Loney: The remedy consists of multiple parts. The remedial design is still moving forward, which is the major focus of the CAG. The project is not delayed.

CAG Member: Once the deal is reached, does EPA plan to come and present to the CAG first or will there be a press conference? How will EPA inform the CAG?
Loney: We haven’t finalized any press strategy. It depends on the timing but the CAG will definitely be made aware.

Read more »

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, Carroll Gardens

Presentation from Alloy Development

Alloy, a Brooklyn developer, has recently moved into Gowanus with several projects, including a new headquarters. Alloy has partnered with the owners of the Canal-adjacent properties currently under consideration as a potential site for the CSO retention tanks. Alloy is presenting a program for the site that allows the property owners to retain development and ownership rights to some of the land while allowing for public access and parkland. They want to encourage the selection of the site for the retention tanks.

Summary of the Alloy Presentation

  • Project Goals: Timely cleanup, cost effectiveness, preserve and enhance park space, promote job creation and economic development
  • 234 Butler: As-of-right commercial development
    • The lot at these sites could contain 104,000 square feet of space, but the large floor plate is not conducive to current standards for developing office space.
    • Alloy proposes two buildings at either end of the site, and a donation of the middle section as public space.
    • Alloy has signed agreements with 232 and 244 Butler to donate parkland to avoid eminent domain.
    • Repositioning the building mass within the area that already exists to accommodate public space and the head house.
      • Donating this land is estimated to save ~$100 million and 3 to 5 years by avoiding the use of eminent domain for the tank site
      • The proposed development will generate taxes and revenue, and local jobs – estimated 800 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs
      • Provides both temporary and permanent park space
    • Two diverging scenarios:
      • DEP proposal places head house at top of Butler
        • Most sensitive location based on sewer outfall
        • Added benefit of creating more space
      • EPA proposal places the tank in the park
        • A donation of parkland offers flexibility for programming head house
        • Addition of head house does not mean loss of park space
        • Resources available to develop more creative design

Read more »

Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, Carroll Gardens

Presentation: History of the Gowanus Canal

CAG Member Joseph Alexiou and EPA’s Natalie Loney reprised their presentation of the history of the Gowanus Canal, originally presented at EPA’s national community involvement conference, outlining the development of the Canal and corresponding areas of Brooklyn over time, up to the present-day Superfund cleanup.

Questions and Answers

Q: What is the argument for restoring the 1st Street basin?
A: Toxins that are in the site and could recontamination

Q: What about flooding?
A: Not a main reason for restoring the 1st Street basin, but will provide some benefits which is important in light of climate change?

Q: What about smells and air pollution exposure? We are looking for stronger protections from certain exposures for the very young and the very old.
A: Superfund looks at future exposures over a timeframe of 30 years so the effects of chemicals in the past are less relevant and more emphasis is placed on the future.

Q: Environmental Justice Concerns – can you explain this a bit more? Does the CAG or EPA have certain roles or responsibilities with specifically impacted communities?
A: Superfund involves Environmental Justice by necessity, one major component or the remedy was thought out with the Environmental Justice community in mind. EPA became familiar with the neighborhood and noted that communities of color seem most significantly impacted. Read more »