At its December 1, 2020 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution asking EPA to review and comment on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s planned changes to the remediation of Public Place.

The resolution reads as follows:

Resolved:
Due to the recent announcement by the NYSDEC of changes to its remediation plan for Public Place, we ask EPA to review and comment on the changes and make a determination as to the effectiveness of such proposed changes in preventing the remaining Public Place site contamination from contaminating the surrounding neighborhood and the Gowanus Canal. The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) strongly recommends that any clean up of Public Place prioritize the health and safety of the area’s present and future residents and aquatic life in the Gowanus Canal.

Be it further Resolved:
Since Public Place was and continues to be a major source of contamination to the Gowanus Canal, the Gowanus Canal Advisory Group requests that the EPA use its technical expertise to advise the CAG if the current plan for the Public Place remediation put forth by the NYSDEC will meet the current and future needs of the community under the Record of Decision.

Click here to see a PDF version of the full resolution.

At its December 1, 2020 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution in support of an October 27th letter sent by EPA Region 2 to the New York City Departments of City Planning (DCP) and Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding the Gowanus Superfund Record of Decision and the Gowanus Rezoning.

The resolution reads as follows:

Resolved:
The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) strongly supports the position EPA states in its October 27th letter to the NYC DEP and NYC DCP regarding the proposed rezoning of the land surrounding the banks of Gowanus Canal, “that any rezoning impacting the Canal must proceed in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment, as envisioned in EPA’s Canal remedy” and affirmed in the 2013 Gowanus Canal Record of Decision (ROD).

Background:
The EPA clarifies for the DCP and DEP that EPA’s role under CERCLA also includes: “ensuring that future land-use changes do not adversely affect the integrity of Superfund cleanups, including the ongoing work at the Gowanus Canal”; and in a May 2019 letter the EPA “directed the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide rezoning-related information to EPA as part of the CSO tank design process.” And the EPA again reiterates that “Progress on the CSO tanks . . . has been delayed by DEP”, while “Progress on the Canal cleanup is among the factors cited by the City in support of the rezoning.”

Click here to see a PDF version of the full resolution.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met via Zoom conference on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at 7 p.m.

CAG Members present:
Paul Basile
David Briggs
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
Hildegaard Link
Steve Marcus

Guests:
Owen Foote
Terri Thomson (National Grid)
Sandy Renz


Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Brad Vogel
Sue Wolfe
Maryann Young

Open Items:

Item 1

Draft resolution for bulkhead encroachments into canal.

Action

In lieu of a resolution, Brad will draft a letter to EPA with Peter’s assistance that states the following CAG requests: a) a navigable waterway be maintained, and b) if the lost canal surface area due to the new bulkhead encroachments exceeds the new surface area of the restored 1st Street turning basin, then additional canal surface area must be created elsewhere to offset the lost area.

New Items:

Item 1

Steve’s draft resolution summarizing Christos Tsiamis’ summary of Public Place’s cleanup history at the December 1st CAG meeting, which expresses appreciation and support for Christos’ contributions.

Action

After discussion on whether a resolution is an appropriate format for expressing support, most of the committee voted in favor of the resolution with two abstentions.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Admin Committee met via Zoom conference on Tuesday, December 15th, at 10:00 a.m.

Committee members attending:
Jerry Armer
Katia Kelly
Rita Miller

Other CAG members attending:
Louis Kleinman
Margaret Maugenest

Guest:
Owen Foote

1) New member applications reviewed

Mac Thayer
Ivana Nitzova

Earlier & Current Applicants who have responded that they are still interested; “interviews” to follow in January:

Mike Song
Andrew Timmis
Linda Laviolette
Nene Humphrey
Ashley Privett

Two earlier applicants did not respond. Admin will reach out to them once again after the January general meeting.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met via Zoom conference on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.

CAG Members present:

Paul Basile
David Briggs
Marlene Donnelly
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
Hildegaard Link
Steve Marcus
Margaret Maugenest

Rita Miller
Amy Motzny
Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Brad Vogel
Sue Wolfe
Maryann Young

Guests:

Martin Bisi
Owen Foote
Terri Thomson (National Grid)

Open Items:

Item 1

Brad inquired if reduced NYC budget will impact DEP’s headhouse design and construction cost.

Action

DEP has stated in its correspondence with EPA that the city’s budget constraints are impacting the allocated funds and schedule for the retention tank facilities. EPA, in its July 28 letter to DEP, requested supporting documentation.

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Archaeology & Historic Preservation Committee

Monday, December 7th, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Via GoToMeeting

Join GoToMeeting: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/253797341

Access Code: 253-797-341

To dial in by phone: +1 (571) 317-3122

Water Quality/Technical Committee

Monday, December 7th, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Via Zoom

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82576799490?pwd=blNLVis4ejRkcnkyQ0JJSmJPSlkrZz09

Meeting ID: 825 7679 9490
Passcode: 724713

Dial by your location:
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)

Land Use Committee

Tuesday, December 8th, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Via Zoom

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89550255124?pwd=UkJzbDI2VVlHa3BodlVPZHN2dVZEUT09

Meeting ID: 895 5025 5124
Password: 459738

Admin Committee

Tuesday, December 15th, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Via Zoom

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/94766146005?pwd=MmxFOWpmTWdZK1RNN0hYUTJIeVN1dz09

Meeting ID: 947 6614 6005
Passcode: 955154

Agenda:

• Membership discussion
• Setting up new applicant interviews
• Review of one new membership application

All Gowanus Canal CAG meetings are open to the public.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Admin Committee met via Zoom conference on Monday, November 30th, at 10:00 a.m.

Committee members attending:
Katia Kelly
Rita Miller

Guest:
Margaret Maugenest (who has expressed an interest to join the committee, this marking her first meeting)

1) Discussion regarding new member applications

There were nine (9) applications submitted over the last several months.
Three applicants were asked via email to provide more information and resubmit – as of today none of them replied. Admin will make one more attempt today to reach out to them [NOTE: REQUESTS SENT OUT TODAY]

Of the remaining six (6) Admin submitted their comments to the general CAG but no action was taken by the group as of yet

One of the six, a gentleman representing an upstate marine engineering firm, was not recommended by Admin for approval

The remaining five (5) were recommended for approval.

Since then, we have recently received two (2) additional applications – one from a former, founding CAG member who is ready to return, and one from a local Gowanus Dredger. They both wish to join as at large members. Admin recommends both of these two new applicants for approval.

In order to expedite all of these applications, Admin is asking that each application be circulated to each CAG member for review (via an email sent by our Facilitator), requesting that we forego the interview process, and requesting that the CAG express their approval or not of Admin’s recommendations of applicant group. If this can be done by the December meeting, great – if not, then the January meeting for sure. [NOTE: DOUG HAS CIRCULATED APPLICATIONS TODAY]

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Admin Committee met via Zoom conference on Friday, September 18th, at 10:00 a.m.

Committee members attending:
Jerry Armer
Ben Jones
Katia Kelly
Rita Miller

1) Committee reviewed and approved final Addendum to Charter

2) Committee reviewed nine (9) CAG applications – will report to general group

Regarding applications –
Discussed the need to elaborate on the application to include the following:
• the CAG mission printed onto the top of the application

Add the following two (2) questions:
• How did you hear or learn about the Gowanus Canal CAG?
• What is it about the CAG’s mission that motivates you at this point in time to join and what would you like to contribute to its stated mission?

Finally, Admin annually sends out the CAG Membership Survey in October. Since COVID has changed so much for so many during the membership year, Admin would like the CAG to discuss the possible suspension of the survey and its subsequent attendance review for the 2019-2020 year.

EPA Region 2 issued the following press release yesterday in conjunction with the start of dredging of the Gowanus Canal.

NEW YORK – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, New York State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, New York City Councilmember Brad Lander, members of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group and other dignitaries marked the start of dredging operations in the upper portion of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site in Brooklyn, New York, by the Carroll Street bridge. This is a major milestone in the history of one of the nation’s most contaminated waterways. It is anticipated that the dredging in this portion of the Canal will be completed in fall 2022, with capping to be completed in mid-2023.

“Today we mark the official start of a historic cleanup to address a legacy of hazardous waste and urban pollution that dates back to the 1800s,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “EPA’s partnership with local, state, and federal entities through constructive engagement and community engagement has been the hallmark of this successful collaboration. This achievement demonstrates the progress of the Superfund program and EPA’s commitment to protecting human health and the revitalization of the Gowanus and Red Hook communities.”

“We’ve come a long way to get where we are today. Full scale dredging is a welcome and long-awaited step toward full cleanup of the polluted Gowanus Canal,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.  “Though this project is years from completion, we are on an ambitious timeline for cleanup of our first Superfund site in the City. I would like to extend my thanks to EPA and the community for their commitment to the health of our community. Together, we’ll achieve a cleaner city for years to come.” 

“The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group is deeply gratified that dredging of the upper portion of the canal is getting underway today,” said Founding Member Eric McClure. “The start of dredging comes just over 10 years from the date of the first meeting of the Community Advisory Group, and many founding CAG members are still actively providing EPA with community input. We’ve looked forward to this day for a long time, as it marks the beginning of the actual removal of contaminants from the canal, and while we know the complete cleanup will by necessity proceed for another decade, we’re excited that a cleaner, healthier Gowanus Canal is on the horizon. We thank the EPA for their steadfast commitment to a clean canal, and for their partnership in reaching this historic moment and in the work ahead. It’s truly a momentous day for Gowanus.”

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group is deeply gratified that dredging of the upper portion of the canal is getting underway today. It’s truly a momentous day for Gowanus. The start of dredging comes just over 10 years from the date of the first meeting of the Community Advisory Group, which convened in October, 2010, and many founding CAG members are still engaged and actively providing EPA with the community’s point of view. We’ve looked forward to this day for a long time, as it marks the beginning of the actual removal of contaminants from the canal, and while we know the complete cleanup will by necessity proceed for another decade, we’re excited that a cleaner, healthier Gowanus Canal is on the horizon. We thank the EPA for their steadfast commitment to a clean canal, and for their partnership in reaching this historic moment and in the work ahead.

We’d specifically like to extend our gratitude to the EPA staff we’ve worked so closely with from day one: Project Manager Christos Tsiamis, Community Involvement Coordinator Natalie Loney, Assistant Regional Counsel Brian Carr, and Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. And while he’s a relative newcomer, we greatly appreciate the leadership of Regional Administrator Pete Lopez.

We’d also like to thank Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, who was instrumental in the canal’s designation as a Superfund site, as well as Council Members Brad Lander and Steve Levin and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, among others, for their ongoing support. Thank you, too, to CAG Facilitator Doug Sarno, for always keeping us moving in the right direction.

For those unfamiliar with the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, we’re the official community forum for dialogue among representatives of all segments of the community about the federal Superfund clean-up of the canal. We formed soon after the Gowanus Canal was designated a Superfund site, and are the largest U.S. EPA Superfund Community Advisory Group in the nation. We’re comprised of representatives from civic, environmental, business and community organizations, as well as individual members, from neighborhoods around the Canal, including Red Hook, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Park Slope.

We’re excited today for the start of dredging, and what it means for the future of this long-neglected body of water.