The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on February 22nd announced a plan to preserve certain features of the historic Gowanus Station building, also known as 234 Butler Street (pictured below), in conjunction with construction of an underground sewage capture tank at the site the building currently occupies.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group had recently passed a resolution asking that the building be preserved in full if the EPA and New York City agree on the construction of an underground storage tunnel, rather than a storage tank, as the city has proposed. The Memorandum of Agreement between EPA and the New York State Historic Preservation Office only extends to preservation of certain elements of the building’s façade.

You can read the EPA’s full press release on its agreement to preserve portions of the building here: Gowanus Butler St Bldg FINAL NEWS RELEASE.

Additionally, you can read EPA Region 2 Administrator Peter D. Lopez’s letter to Gowanus Canal CAG regarding the matter here: GowanusCAGfinaltr22219.

At its January 22, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution calling for preservation of the Gowanus Station building in full if the plan for a CSO storage tunnel is adopted.

The resolution, addressed to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 (EPA), and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), reads as follows:

Resolved, the Gowanus Canal CAG calls on DEP, SHPO, and the EPA to spare and retain in place the entirety of the two-story portion of the national historic register-eligible Gowanus Station building at 234 Butler Street if DEP and the EPA ultimately decide to pursue the CSO storage tunnel option discussed at the November 27, 2018 CAG Meeting.

Background: As noted by DEP at the November 27, 2018 meeting, the proposed tunnel alternative would require less space at the head-of-canal site than the current CSO tank planned for the site. Accordingly, this resolution expresses the CAG’s support of Peter Reich’s statement at the meeting, noting that the CAG supports saving the whole building in place if the tunnel alternative is ultimately selected.

The original resolution was drafted by the CAG’s Land Use Committee. You can download a copy of the full resolution here: Gowanus CAG Resolution 012219 Gowanus Station FINAL.

At its January 22, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution on the retention of existing marine bollards at the Public Place site.

The resolution, addressed to the New York City Department of City Planning, and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Administrator, reads as follows:

Resolved: the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that the existing marine bollards along the Gowanus Canal bulkhead of the Public Place site be retained and saved for reincorporation in public places in the Gowanus area.

Further resolved: the marine bollards should be retained and reincorporated in Gowanus even if they must be removed from their existing context, stored, and reinstalled at a later date to facilitate construction of the cutoff wall planned for the Public Place shoreline. Efforts should be made to reinstall the bollards in an historically authentic manner so that vessels may continue to use them to dock along the Gowanus Canal bulkhead in the future.

The original resolution was drafted by the CAG’s Land Use Committee. You can download a copy of the full resolution, including relevant background information, here: Gowanus CAG Resolution 012219 Marine Bollards FINAL.

At its January 22, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution on protecting the historic S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse and preventing navigational hazards from impacting the cleanup.

The resolution, addressed to the New York City Department of Buildings and the United States Coast Guard, reads as follows:

Resolved:

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) take enforcement action to the full extent permitted by law against the owner of the historic S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse building at 595 Smith Street along the Gowanus Canal, given that the owner is in violation of a posted DOB order following a fire in the summer of 2018. The CAG also requests that DOB present to the CAG’s Archaeology Committee in February 2019 regarding what enforcement action has been taken, as well as actions taken to ensure that the building does not collapse and create a navigational hazard near the mouth of the Gowanus Canal.

Be it further Resolved:

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that the United States Coast Guard take enforcement action to the full extent permitted by law against the owner of the historic S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse building at 595 Smith Street along the Gowanus Canal, given that the owner has not shored up the bulkhead on the property that partially collapsed in 2017. Additional collapses have occurred since and are likely to continue, posing the threat of hazards to navigation near the mouth of the Gowanus Canal. These hazards could limit the ability of vessels associated with the superfund cleanup from accessing the Canal as needed.

The original resolution was drafted by the CAG’s Land Use Committee. You can download a copy of the full resolution, including relevant background information, here: Gowanus CAG Resolution 012219 Bowne Storehouse FINAL.

At its January 22, 2019 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution calling for creation of a Programmatic Agreement for addressing the preservation of archaeological artifacts salvaged from the 4th Street turning basin.

The resolution, addressed to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”), the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the New York State Historic Preservation Office, reads as follows:

Resolved: EPA and the PRP’s pursuant to Section 106 be responsible for maintaining all cultural material recovered and retained from the 4th Street Turning Basin Pilot Project and currently stored on a privately- owned space. The EPA indicated the cultural materials must be removed by the end of January 2019.

Resolved: These cultural materials are of interest to the Gowanus community and the CAG members as tangible remnants of the community’s past, therefore the cultural materials recovered from the 4th Street Basin Pilot Project and cultural materials removed subsequently during the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal as the project proceeds, be addressed in the Programmatic Agreement (PA).

Resolved: The Archaeology Committee and the Gowanus community enough time to find a temporary or permanent repository for the cultural materials recovered from the 4th Street Basin Pilot Project, therefore, it is the EPA’s responsibility to secure a location and find the monies to relocate these items and store the collection until the disposition of cultural material excavated from the Gowanus Canal channel is resolved through a PA.

Resolved: The Archaeology Committee asks that EPA follow the guidelines set by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regarding community input, consultation and review of documents, including the PA, relating to historic properties within the project’s Area of Potential Effect (APE) and cultural material recovered from the Gowanus Canal project.

Resolved: Members of the Gowanus Community, including CAG members shall be the custodians and trustees of all artifacts recently discovered and all artifacts discovered in the future in the Gowanus Canal Corridor during the remainder of the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup.

The original resolution was drafted by the CAG’s Archaeology Committee. You can download a copy of the full resolution, including relevant background information, here: Gowanus CAG Resolution 012219 Artifacts.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, December 13, at 9:00 a.m., in the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street.

This was the first meeting of the reconstituted Outreach Committee, and discussion was focused on the future of the Committee.

CAG Members Present

Sabine Aronowsky
Jordan Heiden, Gowanus Canal Conservancy (Committee alternate for Christine Petro)
Katia Kelly
Eric McClure

Sabine reached out again to Dan Wiley and Natalie Loney about scheduling a spring 2019 Superfund Town Hall meeting.

Updating the cleanup timeline

Items that need to be updated/added:

  • MOU between National Grid and EPA for construction of the Fulton cut-off wall.
  • Completion of the 4th Street Basin pilot process.
  • Creation of the North Gowanus Visioning Group.
  • Acquisition of land for head house and northern CSO tank.
  • How does the tunnel proposal affect the cleanup timeline?

Will there still be a head house? What will the effect be on the Salt Lot? Will there be additional space freed up for public use at the Salt Lot?

If NYC DEP attends the January CAG meeting, we can get more clarity on the proposal for a tunnel vs. retention tanks.

Katia: in order to not confuse the community, we should maybe put a question mark on tunnel vs. tanks, and the timing of it.

Can EPA provide any more detail and estimated dates for future milestones? Check with Natalie Loney.

Other questions regarding the timeline:

  • Timing for construction of the Fulton cut-off wall?
  • What is the timing for Thomas Greene Park & Double D Pool remediation, given the city’s acquisition of the property adjacent to the canal?

Ask Andrea Parker to update the timeline (Jordan will relay the request).

Should the Outreach Committee do a “year in review” at the January CAG meeting? Milestones achieved, resolutions passed, etc.

Superfund Town Hall

Invite CB6 to co-sponsor.

Hold the meeting near the north end of the canal, since that’s where work will be happening. Wyckoff Houses? PS133? PS133 requires a fee and insurance (could EPA or CB6 cover those costs?).

Should DEP be invited to present? We should clear that with EPA first.

Need to make sure that the Town Hall includes a few minutes for the CAG to present itself to the community.

Aim to have a date for the Town Hall by our January CAG meeting.

January Outreach meeting can focus on putting together a review of 2018 accomplishments for the January CAG meeting. Could also be translated into a “newsletter” update to post to the website and for members to distribute.

Touch base in advance of January CAG meeting. Set the third Thursday of each month, at 9 a.m., as our regular meeting date.

On January 22, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection presented an overview of the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) storage tunnel the agency is proposing as an alternative to the Gowanus Canal CSO storage tanks that the city agreed to construct in a consent agreement reached with the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2016.

To see the full NYC DEP presentation, click here.

Click on the image below for a larger rendering of the proposed CSO tunnel alignment.

The New York City Department of City Planning today released the Draft Zoning Proposal for the Gowanus neighborhood. Documents related to the Draft Zoning Proposal can be found here.

In addition, CIty Planning will host an open house at which the public can provide feedback and ask questions of city agencies, learn more about next steps in the rezoning process, and give additional input. Here are the details:

Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study
Draft Zoning Proposal and Framework Updates
Wednesday, February 6
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
PS32
317 Hoyt Street
Carroll Gardens

See the flyers below for additional details.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Admin Committee met on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, at 9:00 a.m., in the Cobble Hill Community Room at 250 Baltic Street.

Committee Members attending:

Jerry Armer
Ben Jones
Katia Kelly
Rita Miller
Maryann Young (CORD alternate)

Non-Committee/CAG Members present:

Rafael Gomez
Louis Kleinman

Guests:

Owen Foote

Admin discussed some of the problems facing the CAG in regard to procedures that were apparently either never voted upon/ratified but put into effect, and procedures voted upon/ratified and ignored.

Problem #1

An At-Large member, trying to draft a proposal/resolution regarding a change to the Founding Member status, which permitted only organizations that joined the CAG at its inception to maintain their seats and return to the CAG at any time even though they were not in compliance with our attendance expectations/requirements.

The At-Large member contacted Rita Miller because she wanted to refer to the passage in the Charter in order to propose a change to the rule, but she could not find the rule anywhere in the Charter.

Since this omission had been noted and discussed at a general meeting before, yet the passage had still not been incorporated into the Charter, an Admin member went back to trace as to when the Founding Member rule was actually voted upon.

Although a timeline using all of the available minutes (and not all minutes were available) was reviewed, it did appear as though this particular proposal was never ratified by the general CAG. Meeting minutes discuss it from November 2011 and various months throughout 2012. On January 17, 2013, meeting notes which at some point were reworded and became part of the Charter Addendum, noted that “NYCHA representatives retain their Founding Member seats for as long as the CAG exists,” as if the Founding Member addition had been voted upon at some point.

However, when the Addendum was adopted sometime later, there was no mention of Founding Members at all.

Read more »

At its October 23, 2018 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution calling for safe emergency access to, and egress from, the Gowanus Canal.

The resolution, addressed to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”), Potentially Responsible Parties (“PRPs”), City of New York, NYC Department of Transportation, New York City Department of City Planning, and Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, reads as follows:

Resolved, in order to improve safety, we encourage the PRPs, the City of New York (especially DOT and DEP, whose properties abut the Gowanus Canal), and any other property owners who own and/or control land abutting the Gowanus Canal (e.g. street ends, publicly accessible esplanades, private property) to include safe emergency access to and safe egress from the Gowanus Canal. Access points should be provided every 100 feet along the relevant bulkhead section being replaced, substantially repaired, or temporarily installed.

Be it further resolved, access should be accommodated by means of a shoreline ladder, at a minimum, or by other means (see examples along the Gowanus Canal and other New York City waterways). A mix of access/egress opportunities are possible, including floating docks, sandy edges, stepped platforms, davit equipment or other soft edges. Accommodations can be installed on the marine face of any containment barrier or bulkhead and the installation of such barriers or bulkheads should, at a minimum, be designed to provide opportunity for future easy installation of access/egress devices.

Be it further resolved, we urge the placement of emergency communications like those installed at the Red Hook shoreline.

Be it finally resolved, we encourage the EPA to inform any relevant property owners of the CAG’s recommendations above when discussing replacement of bulkheads along the Gowanus Canal as part of its oversight of bulkhead repair or replacement under the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site Record of Decision.

The original resolution was drafted by the CAG’s Land Use Committee. You can download a copy of the full resolution, including relevant background information, here: CAG_181023_SafeAccess_Resolution.