Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street
Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:40.
The March meeting summary was approved with no revisions.
The April meeting summary was approved with no revisions.
Christos Tsiamis, Remedial Project Manager for EPA, presented the updates.
The visioning process must be a cooperative process. The CAG Resolution was also addressed to EPA – it is a community process. We think it should be an open meeting. EPA met with Council Member Levin and Ben Solotaire yesterday and made it clear that what was discussed was not approved layouts by EPA or the City. There are imperfections, and we hope that the broader community, in coordination with the CAG, will engage so that the community is assured EPA and the City are on the same page. The City’s Department of Environmental Protection said that DEP and EPA were not on the same page at that meeting.
Without most of you noticing, the bulk of sediment in the 4th Street Turning Basin has been removed. 10,000 cubic yards of sediment – averaging 600-700 cubic yards a day. We are very pleased with that. There is still some sediment at the corners and edges that require specialized equipment. A couple spots are in the native sediment. Under the general plan, EPA will stabilize these parts. Because of the smaller size of the pilot area, EPA has decided to excavate, so there’s going to be a depression and then stable material in the inside.
Following the specialized operations, they will lay the cap. Now they’re down 10-12 feet at the bottom. We are surprised how much debris was moved. Lots of plastic, wood, big rocks, tires, some items that were separated as potential archaeological elements. A number of bricks with stamps, roll bearing, a port-hole from a ship (but no ship), a metal wheel from a car, odd metal parts. A fairly contemporary heat exchanger. There was a scrapyard right next to this location.
The Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) have been asked to stage the oversized items that cannot be shipped to New Jersey. EPA is willing to do a visit in the next week or so with the archaeology committee.
CAG: Does the surprising amount of debris change the speed of dredging?
EPA: We anticipate we will be able to separate and stabilize within two years according to the timeline – very happy with how this operation went. Remember, we have to put down three or four layers. Right now there are winds blowing, so that changes things. There was some damage to the Whole Foods esplanade – this is being worked out between Whole Foods and the PRPs; the agreement is that the original contractor and the PRPs are paying the whole cost.
CAG: Will that repair happen after the sheet piles go in at the Fourth Street Basin?
EPA: Unsure, but Whole Foods wants them in after the dredging but before the capping.
CAG: Will the metal barrier currently in place stay there?
EPA: They will be below the water level – the one in the barrier across will stay there until the 3rd Avenue Bridge work is finished, and will keep that cutoff wall under the bridge.
CAG: Is it safe for canoers? How far will the walls come out?
EPA: We want to make sure it is safe.
The other thing EPA promised was a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) about the building at the top of the canal within the footprint of the design of the detention tank. EPA does have drafts but is not sharing them yet – still lots of give and take and conversations. Some briefings as far as scheduling conflicts happened later than earlier, and EPA will circulate it in the next few days and send it to Doug.
We have been in touch with State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and have taken the CAG comments and incorporated all the comments. We will ask for further input on how we represented what the CAG has shared in approximately one month. We have had consultations for six months. As we promised and as Brian said, you’ll have the ability to provide input again, and EPA will come up with a final decision in mid-summer, probably by July.