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.

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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

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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 »

The Gowanus CAG Outreach Committee met on Thursday, April 14, 2016, with discussion focused on continuing development of the CAG’s Communications Plan.

CAG members present: Stefan Doerring, Katia Kelly, Eric McClure, Maryann Young.

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid

Review of Outstanding Action Items

The group reviewed the action items from the March meeting.  Eric McClure reported that he wasn’t able to reach a solution for including a Google Alert-based RSS feed on the CAG home page, but that Josh Skaller, who created the  website, believes it would be relatively easy to do and is willing to help with that.  Josh also is willing to update the “Join the CAG” form that’s linked from the home page, and Eric will send him the full form so that he can revise the form on the site.

Eric reported that he had posted the Land Use Committee resolution on CSO tank siting approved at the March CAG meeting to the website, but had not received the Water Quality/Technical Committee resolution requesting that the EPA establish a comment period once a decision is made on the location of the tanks.  Maryann responded that she had sent the resolution to Doug Sarno, and shared it via email with Eric (it has subsequently been posted to the website).

The Outreach Committee identified several items to bring to the full CAG for approval at the April general meeting. Read more »

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the City of New York have reached a proposed agreement on the siting of two sewer and storm water retention tanks intended to reduce combined sewer overflows into the Gowanus Canal.

In addition, the EPA announced that it will hold a public meeting about the agreement on April 25 at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 32, at 317 Hoyt Street in Gowanus, and will accept public comments on the proposed tank siting until May 31, 2016. Comments can be made in person at the public meeting or mailed or emailed to:

Walter Mugdan, U.S. EPA Superfund Director
290 Broadway, Floor 19
New York, N.Y., 10007

The full press release issued today by the EPA is below. You can read the full draft Settlement Agreement between the EPA and New York City here.

EPA Proposes Locations for Two Sewage Retention Tanks as Part of Gowanus Canal Cleanup
Public Encouraged to Provide Comments

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

(New York, N.Y. – April 14, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed agreement with the City of New York that establishes the location for two sewage and storm water retention tanks, included as part of the cleanup for the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site. The agreement sets out a schedule for the design of the larger of the two tanks. It also requires New York City to undertake activities to prepare that location for the tank installation, and to pay EPA oversight costs. Prior to finalizing the agreement with New York City, the EPA is accepting public comments. The proposed administrative settlement 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. 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. The EPA is accepting public input on the work contained in the proposed agreement for the next 30 days and will have a public meeting on April 25 to discuss the work being secured under the agreement.

Read more »

At its March, 2016 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution, originally proposed by the CAG’s Water Quality/Technical Committee, requesting a 30-day public comment period once the EPA and New York City on the siting of a CSO retention tank and related facilities at the north end of the Gowanus Canal:

The CAG believes that pending EPA decisions may effectively change the Record of Decision. Such a potential deviation warrants the establishment of an official Public Comment Period.

The CAG hereby resolves and requests that the EPA include a Public Comment Period as part of any CSO tank agreements made with New York City, and for any impending actions affecting remediation plans for the upland Fulton MGP site.

In response to the CAG’s resolution, the EPA has agreed to establish a 30-day comment period, as outlined in the agreement on siting of CSO retention tanks that it announced on April 14, 2016, and communicated to the CAG in a letter from EPA Region 2 Emergency & Remedial Response Division Director Walter Mugdan dated April 13, 2016. You can read that correspondence in its entirety here.

To see past resolutions passed by the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, click here.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

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

Guests: April Dubison, National Grid

Item 1

There was a brief discussion about the history of the Committee and its purpose. Originally, it was intended to focus on water quality and on whether real estate prices would drop due to the Superfund clean up.


None required.

Item 2

Andrea Parker expressed concern that a Department of Sanitation project is scheduled to begin on the Salt Lot on May 1 and may directly impact the installation of the retention tank project that has been presented by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] at community meetings.


The Gowanus Canal Conservancy [GCC] is reaching out to Councilmember Brad Lander for information. Additionally, the Committee could request that the EPA issue a statement that demands the New York City Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] start the retention tank project on the Salt Lot. Read more »

Join the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee for its monthly meeting on Thursday, April 14, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Fifth Avenue Committee, 621 Degraw Street, in Gowanus.

The Committee will be continuing its work on the formulation of an overall communications plan for the CAG. All Gowanus CAG meetings are open to the public.

At its March, 2016 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution, originally proposed by the CAG’s Land Use Committee, on the proposed siting of the retention tank, head house, and related facilities at the north end of the Gowanus Canal.

Whereas the United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] are currently discussing the siting of a retention tank, head house, and related facilities [the Facilities] at one or more of the following properties: 234 Butler Street, 242 Nevins Street, the Thomas Greene Park, or other directly adjacent properties;

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Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, Carroll Gardens

EPA Update

The EPA was not present at the meeting. No decision yet as to siting of the CSO retention tanks.

CAG Status and Decisions to Date

Doug Sarno reviewed the CAG strategic decisions made to date.

Facilitation Team

The Facilitation Committee will meet once a month for half an hour before the start of the general meeting. The main job is to help set the agenda by making sure all committees’ issues are brought to the table. The Facilitation Committee will review the draft agenda and make decisions about shifting meetings and canceling as necessary. When posting on the website is not clear cut, they will make decisions about how that will work. Each committee will have a liaison to the Facilitation Committee.


The charter says that all members must belong to at least one committee; attendance rules for committees are the same as full meeting rules but committees have more flexibility in enforcing them. We need to get all meetings on a regular schedule for 2016.

The Real Estate committee has been renamed the Land Use committee, so we now have four operating committees, along with the Admin committee.

CAG Member: You want as much participation on a committee as you can get so if you pick one day, you’re excluding people.

CAG Member: Why do some people feel they have to be on multiple committees? It’s a sign of distrust. Committees should keep the same date for meetings for consistency.

CAG Member: We need to have a calendar of all committee meetings for 2016 so that meetings don’t get moved around all the time.

Doug pointed out that a shared night could potentially serve two committees. We can reserve one room for one night to accommodate multiple committees to be more efficient.

Read more »