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.
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


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.

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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.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 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
Louis Kleinman
Hildegaard Link
Peter Reich
Brad Vogel
Andrea Parker
Sue Wolfe


Terri Thomson
Electra Weeks

Item 1

Discussed draft resolution to address safe emergency access to and egress from the canal. Several edits were suggested.


Brad and Dave will work on it and share with the committee prior to presenting it to the CAG for approval.


EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez and his team met with the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group on November 27, 2018, to discuss a number of issues pertaining to the Superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal, including updates on the progress of the project, New York City’s proposal to build a storage tunnel rather than tanks for containing Combined Sewer Overflows, and the future remediation of Thomas Greene Park.

The video includes Regional Administrator Lopez’s opening remarks, and an extended question-and-answer session with members of the CAG and the public.

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


Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35. 


Project Updates

Natalie Loney, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator, presented the updates.

Fourth Street Turning Basin: the mats are currently being placed, and that should be done by the end of the month.

At the November CAG meeting, the Regional Administrator will be here, so this meeting is partially about capturing questions for Regional Administrator Lopez. Let Natalie know if there are questions for him.


Questions & Answers

CAG: DEP presented to CB6 about the retention tank site – why haven’t they presented to the CAG?
EPA: That’s a question for the CAG to pose to the DEP.
Doug Sarno: We have invited DEP to address the CAG. They could not come tonight. When asked whether or not they will still need to build the electrical substation work with the head house at the same time, the answer was yes.

CAG: Seems like there is new information at DEP, so that’s what I’d want to know.

CAG: EPA Regional Administrator Lopez casually mentioned something that could have a huge impact – a potential tunnel. Are we going to hear anything about that and when?
EPA: I’ll make note of it – I don’t know too much about the tunnel project.

CAG: If that’s going forward at the same time as Superfund and the overflow tanks, we need to know.

CAG: Riverkeeper and others are curious about progress on the proposals and substantive information.

CAG: We’d like an update and to be part of whatever design happens. This marks the second meeting (EPA Remedial Project Manager) Christos Tsiamis isn’t here, and that’s disconcerting. Part of what’s magic about these meetings is that we get to ask really technical questions and he answers those right away, and his presence is important in order for this CAG to stay informed.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Friday, November 9, 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


Alanna Browdy, Graduate Student, Columbia University
Christine Ghossoub, Graduate Student, Columbia University
Chongyuan Wang, Graduate Student, Columbia University

Joined by three planning students from Columbia University, who are studying Gowanus in light of the re-zoning.

They’re analyzing pro- vs. no development positions, looking for common ground, and potentially, a recommendation for a Community Benefits Agreement.

Jordan Heiden from the Gowanus Canal Conservancy sitting in for Christine.

Future of the Outreach Committee

Mission is to inform the larger community about what’s going on with the Canal cleanup.

Encouraging organizational members to publicize CAG meetings and activities, especially for important meetings, like November (Pete Lopez, EPA Region 2 Administrator, will be in attendance).

Ask Doug Sarno to circulate a note to CAG members in advance of the November meeting urging them to promote the meeting and agenda.

Put together a monthly meeting announcement to provide to CAG member organizations to communicate to their members (when there’s noteworthy stuff).

Superfund Town Hall

Last Superfund Town Hall was held at Wyckoff Gardens, October 2017.

Ask Pete Lopez to come to a Town Hall in spring 2019. There will be a milestone around the siting of the retention-tank.

Find a date, location, headline attendees. Congresswoman Velazquez and Regional Administrator Lopez. Follow up with Dan Wiley and Natalie Loney regarding scheduling.

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 (can EPA provide?).

Makes sense for the CAG to hold Town Hall meetings in locations where work is happening or will soon be happening.

Do we have a solid timeline from the EPA? Upload the current version of the timeline to the website (Sabine to provide PDF).

Ask Doug to make a few copies of the current timeline to have available at the November meeting.

Aim for having an updated timeline for CAG review at the January meeting. Ask Natalie for input on timeline.

National Grid is waiting to hear from DEP and EPA about sign-off on final location of the north-end retention tank. Katia believes the land has been acquired by the city for the canal-side siting.

Con Ed site might be appropriate for the temporary pool, but Con Ed may construct a new substation there to serve Gowanus in light of the rezoning.

December outreach meeting can focus on updating the timeline and securing a date for the town hall.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Admin Committee met on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, at 9:30 a.m., in the Cobble Hill Community Room at 250 Baltic Street.

CAG Members present:

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

Began with review of Richard Lawrence’s application for CAG membership. Some further information is required prior to final decision. After a review of Richard’s application post meeting, it was agreed by all that he would be recommended for approval.

It was brought up that at-large membership issues were brought up at the Archaeology Committee meeting, but Admin has not changed its recommendation. At-large members who need time off should inform Admin and/or the Facilitator that they need to take a break. They may reapply when they are ready to return. Any engaged member in good standing who needs time off should not be concerned about their ability to be welcomed back as long as the cap of sixty (60) members has not been reached.

Admin suggests that the newly reformed Outreach Committee reach out to the NYCHA houses which have been inactive, and welcome them back by reminding them that their seats are there for them and an alternate.

This outreach should also be extended to everyone, particularly NYCHA residents who may wish to join us in an at-large capacity. We are quite organization-heavy (see below), and need to extend our at-large membership.

A preliminary survey result was discussed. The survey deadline was extended until 11/15/18 for those few members who still have not replied. The balance of the CAG membership was discussed. We now hold seats for 15 organizations, have 21 active organizations, and 10 (including new member Janet Aitchinson) at-large members.

We are clearly org-heavy and at-large-light. It was discussed that prospective members who have already applied as at-large members or organization members, should not be encouraged after the admin review process has been completed to change their status. Part of Admin’s duties are to try to maintain a balance, and this makes it quite difficult.

It has also been suggested that an additional item should be added to Organizational members applications in the form of a letter from the organization requesting that the applicant be their representative.

Finally, Admin discussed the role of the CAG representative on the North Gowanus Revisioning Committee and how it impacts our relationship with the DEP.

The Admin Committee has drafted the following proposal:

Although the North Gowanus Revisioning Committee (NGRC) is an extremely valuable and site-specific group, we propose that the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group remove its representative to the NGRC.

This is in no way a reflection on our current representative, Peter Reich, who has done an excellent job.

Rather, in retrospect, we feel that the CAG and, in particular, DEP’s ability to communicate with the CAG may have been changed as a result of our representation on the NGRC.

The CAG meetings are where EPA, DEP, DEC, and all of the other agencies, as well as our local politicians, and most importantly, the community, intersect to share all of the pertinent information provided by everyone involved in this cleanup.

As a CAG, we wish to be included, as a body, in every representation and presentation the DEP, and any other agency, may provide, when it pertains to any and all aspects of the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup. That can only happen when our CAG meets face to face with all involved.