At its March 27, 2018 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution seeking the preservation of the Water Supply Distribution Building at 234 Nevins Street, which occupies a portion of the site potentially slated for construction of large combined-sewer-overflow retention tank.

The resolution, addressed to Christos Tsiamis, Senior Project Manager, Gowanus Canal Project U.S. EPA Region 2, reads as follows:

Resolved, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) requests that DEP engage in further site and engineering analysis investigations into the Gowanus Station building’s structural integrity and consult with experts in preserving historic structures adjacent to construction sites using best efforts to find a way to preserve Gowanus Station.

Before it gives any approval of DEP’s current Head-of-Canal CSO Tank design, EPA is advised that the Gowanus Station building is irreplaceable, is of value to the community, and the full 2-story structure that comprises the Station at the corner of Butler and Nevins must be maintained in its entirety.

The Gowanus CAG reserves its rights to provide EPA and DEP with further input regarding the proposed Head-of-Canal CSO tank site, including as to mitigation should the agencies disregard the wishes of the CAG as set forth in this resolution and proceed toward demolition of any part of Gowanus Station.

You can download a copy of the full resolution, including relevant background information, here: CAG Resolution Preservation of Water Supply Distribution Building at 234 Butler Street 180327

At its March 27, 2018 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed a resolution requesting support from state elected officials for a bill currently before the legislature that seeks to ban single-use plastic bags.

The resolution, addressed to local State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and local Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, as well as members of the State Senate’s Environment Committee and the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, reads as follows:

Discarded single-use plastic bags pose a considerable problem in our local urban waterways. As we move towards cleanup actions in the Gowanus Canal, we have already noticed the extent of plastic bags included in recent dredging actions. The EPA has made the community aware of the need to bring about a change in community management of surface trash released into the waterway. We realize that the continued use of single-use plastic bags poses risks of recontamination of the Gowanus Canal after Superfund Cleanup measures are complete.

As a means of support on this matter, we are asking that you support the enactment of proposed legislation (S7760/A9953), sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Englebright and State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger, which would place a ban on plastic carryout bags. This bill aligns with recommendations made by the NYC DEC Plastic Bag Task Force. We feel enacting this bill is a necessary step to eliminate the environmental harm resulting from these single-use plastic bags, particularly as they affect the public water ways and risk contributing to recontamination of the Gowanus Canal after Superfund Cleanup measures are complete.

You can download a copy of the full resolution here: CAG Resolution_Single Use Plastic Bags_180327

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present:

David Briggs
Katia Kelly
Louis Kleinman
Hildegaard Link
Andrea Parker
Peter Reich
Maryann Young
Sue Wolfe

Item 1

The CB6 amendment to its conditional approval of the CSO facility ULURP application.

Action

Dave will circulate it to the committee.

Item 2

Resolution regarding a community-visioning process for the north end of the canal that addresses the following: CSO facility siting, DCP zoning framework, adverse impacts of project, coal tar remediation below Thomas Greene Park pool, possible siting of CSO facility in park if properties are not acquired by April 2020, and future disposition of Eastern Effects site.

Action

Dave will draft resolution for discussion.

Item 3

Andrea noted that as per updated communications plan resolutions are to be distributed by committees.

Action

Dave will reach out to Doug to see if he is still distributing resolutions.

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

Announcements:

Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35 p.m.

Dan Wiley announced that Congresswoman Velázquez, who has multiple Superfund sites in her district, is introducing a bill in Congress and wants support of constituent groups. The term Superfund comes from a fund raised from a tax on chemical and oil companies to pay for orphaned sites where no responsible party is available to conduct the cleanup. That tax stopped in 1985, and the fund monies ran out in 2003. This act would reinstate the tax to create funds to address sites where funds are not available. The bill will also help businesses that need to relocate as a result of Superfund, and provide tax deductions and Small Business Administration and economic-injury loans to affected parties.

Project Updates

Christos Tsiamis, Remedial Project Manager for EPA, presented the updates:

The 4th Street Basin Pilot Project

Work has not started yet due to a number of issues. We did not expect difficulty installing the bulkheads, but there were surprises at the site that prevent bulkheads from being installed which precludes work. The location selected has issues because there’s a building on the south side across from Whole Foods in bad structural shape and very close to the canal. When the contractor began hammering the bulkhead in, the building cracks were exacerbated. On the Whole Foods side there is an old bulkhead with new soil placed behind it. When new soil is put there it must be compacted so it is strong enough to support everything. Compaction is not always done at the level needed and we see displacement of the pavers and in the soil closer to the Canal.

The way the project works, the PRPs created a trust which contracts with companies to do the work. That contract states that the contractor is allowed to select the means and methods to conduct the work. Contracts are very important in this country. EPA could not intervene because the contract was between the trust and the company, and EPA is not a party to the contract. The contractor was using a huge vibratory hammer for the installation of several sheet piles – these vibrations get transferred vertically and horizontally. There are tools that try to prevent vertical shifts and stunt it.

Ultimately, the EPA intervened because we have oversight when it comes to safety or application of the clean up procedure. By then, the contractor decided to move across the Whole Foods Site. The first time they stopped the contactor and required the contractor to use equipment that puts less energy into the ground. The second time they stopped the contractor from installing multiple sheet piles at a time. Only putting in one at a time allows for fewer vibrations and damage. The contractor and EPA have different tools that they can use. Ultimately, these changes result in slower work but safety is more important than the schedule. The vibratory hammer still causes issues, but now these are fewer.

Three days ago, there was settling on the Whole Foods side. Whole Foods had been contacted with concerns about the hammering. The PRPs were also contacted with concerns, and the contractor finally went with the tool that works more slowly but also more safely. It is still a difficult situation. We hope to be able to finish the south side bulkhead in the next few weeks. The dredging and capping pilot may then be comnpleted in February or March.

Read more »

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

Announcements

Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35.

The October meeting summary was approved with no revisions.

Townhall Meeting Recap

The town hall was long in planning with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s office. For those on the CAG this information was well known, but for the outsiders it was good information. EPA staff were great and it was also helpful to meet the new EPA regional administrator. The main purpose was to provide community information and broaden the reach of the CAG. This is a big step in adding communication to the community as a CAG function.

Natalie Loney, EPA: agree it was a great success and good to see a lot of new people attend. People who had never come to a CAG meeting, or have not been engaged since the last big public meeting. In regard to comments, there was a question of how people would address the comment/question cards. We need to come up with a response to how questions from the public should be addressed

Project Updates

Christos Tsiamis, EPA Remedial Project Manager

First, about the November 16 town hall, it was a great outreach effort by the CAG. Kudos to those who worked hard on it, especially the outreach committee. At the last meeting I challenged the community to help people take care of the Gowanus and not pollute it. In response, the Dredgers put up signs saying not to pollute, and I was pleasantly surprised. Keep up the good work.

EPA received the 65% design for the upper part of the canal just before Thanksgiving and is reviewing it. EPA will not be starting the pilot at the beginning of December because of some unanticipated work related to the bulkheads. It will be starting in early January.

EPA has been meeting with the City for their part of the design for the underground CSO storage tanks. One is for design of the tanks, and this will start by 2020 if the city meets stipulations of the order. EPA is also working with the city for the design, excavation, and restoration of the canal and canal infrastructure.

Read more »

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present:

David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Katia Kelly, Louis Kleinman, Hildegaard Link, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Maryann Young

Guests present:

Terri Thompson, National Grid

Item 1

The committee will not meet in January.

Action

None required.

Item 2

The disposition of the building at 234 Butler Street (corner of Butler and Nevins) and how it will be impacted by the headhouse/retention tank facility was discussed. Some committee members expressed concern that the building would be demolished.

Action

None required.

Item 3

Conversation expanded to address how the rezoning, remediation of coal tar under the Thomas Greene Park pool, and possible relocation of the headhouse/retention tank facility to the park will impact the neighborhood and its residents.

The committee drafted goals to help the community better understand and possibly mitigate the impacts:

  • Preserve 234 Butler Street building
  • Create accessible community space large enough for local groups
  • Provide active recreation space above the retention tanks
  • Require community input as part of visioning process for the neighborhood. Invite design team to participate
  • Request DEP to share preliminary designs and concepts for the headhouse/retention tank facility.
  • Develop/solicit design options for temporary pool

Action

Dave will reach out to CB6 and formulate a request to the Borough President and Councilmember Levin’s offices for a community visioning process.

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

Announcements:

Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35.

The September meeting summary was approved with no revisions.

 

Project Updates (Christos Tsiamis, EPA Remedial Project Manager)

EPA has started prep work on the pilot study, which will start a little over a month from now. They’ve opened the tunnel of the 4th street basin so equipment can get in. Today they’ve begun the sheet piling that is required to start the dredging and capping. Dredging should commence at the beginning of December, and they should complete the pilot in the spring of 2018, when for the first time in over a century a portion of the canal will have a clean bottom.

They’ll remove all the toxins that have accumulated for a century and a half and remove and replace a brand new bottom with clean material. Once we have the results from this pilot, EPA will finalize a design for the entire canal. Then we will clean out the canal from the top to the bottom.

Fourth Street Turning Basin Dredging and Capping Pilot Project

More details on the pilot study were provided by David Himmelheber of Geosyntec, the contractor working on the design. Dave presented a number of slides to give sense of what the work will look, smell, and sound like over the next few months.

Read more »

Uniform Land Use Review Procedure Public Hearing – Gowanus Canal CSO Facility

Pursuant to Section 201 of the New York City Charter, the Brooklyn Borough Board will hold a public hearing on the matter of the proposed Gowanus Canal CSO Facility in the Community Room of Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, commencing at 6:00 PM on November 27, 2017. The Gowanus Canal CSO Facility is the second of two items on the agenda.

Calendar Item 2 –– Gowanus Canal CSO Facility (180065 PCK)

An application submitted by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), pursuant to Section 197-c of the New York City Charter, for the selection and acquisition of three privately owned parcels on a site at the head of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn Community District 6 (CD 6). Such actions would facilitate the construction of a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) control facility at 242 Nevins Street and 234 Butler Street through site acquisition, with a staging area at 270 Nevins Street that would be leased by the City.

Note: To request a sign language interpreter, or to request Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) services, and/or foreign language interpretation in accordance with Local Law 30, please contact Land Use Coordinator Inna Guzenfeld at (718) 802-3754 or iguzenfeld@brooklynbp.nyc.gov prior to the hearing.

The Gowanus Canal was designated a federal Superfund site in 2010, which initiated a complex, multi-year clean-up. Dredging has started this fall in the 4th Street turning basin and will continue in 2018.

Come to this public meeting for information about the canal clean-up, timeline and what to expect. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez will give a keynote, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will present an overview and timeline. An audience Q&A session will follow the presentation.

Please RSVP via Eventbrite.

At the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center, 272 Wyckoff Street, in Brooklyn.