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

 

Announcements

Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35.

The January meeting summary was approved with no revisions.

 

Project Updates

Natalie Loney, EPA, presented the updates

  • Planning for dredging of the 4th Street Basin is continuing; expect to mobilize in late August, dredging should be complete in February of next year; technical discussions between involved parties are moving forward and are on schedule.
  • Project Manager Christos Tsiamis will be at the March CAG meeting and will provide more detail.
  • EPA will meet with the city next week to review progress.

Questions & Answers

CAG Member: They’re working on bulkheads at the Fourth Street Basin now.
EPA: Originally the remediation plan was to start at the head of Canal and work our way down. Instead we’re starting with the Fourth Street Basin with the lessons learned and then moving to the head of the Canal.

CAG Member: How far along is National Grid in the remediation of the Public Place Site?
EPA: I don’t have an answer for that.

 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Activities Relating to the Gowanus Canal

Lynn Rakos, Archaeologist at USACE, briefed the CAG.

On February 27, the Corps released the Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment for the Hudson Raritan Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.

  • Includes eight planning regions in a 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty.
  • Recommends that 260 sites in the HRE CRP go forward to other feasibility studies.
  • Corps had been doing six other studies separately starting in the 1990s and early 2000s, focusing on restoration efforts in different areas of Hudson Raritan Estuary, all of these are now incorporated into the HRE study.
  • The goal is to strengthen natural habitats and minimize environmental impacts.
  • 33 projects are recommended for funding.

USACE is also conducting a coastal storm risk-management study within the New York & New Jersey Harbor and tidally affected tributaries encompassing all of New York City. Anticipated recommendations will include features that can be implemented by the Corps and others. The Corps is currently developing a project management plan and will hold public & NGO workshops in the coming months.
Read more »

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present: David Briggs, Katia Kelly, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Debra Scotto, Maryann Young

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid; David McSweeney

Item 1

1st Street turning basin was discussed. Katia reported that Eymund Diegel believes there may be an easement between the east end of the basin and 3rd Avenue.

Action

None required.

Item 2

Using a map of the canal, the committee discussed how to best approach identifying ecological restoration sites for consideration by the trustees of the National Resource Damage Assessment process. Potential sites include turning basins in Sunset Park, esplanades, street ends, and Industrial Business Zone properties (assuming owners are willing).

Action

Trustees will present at March CAG meeting where scope and feasibility of restoration projects will be discussed.

Item 3

A concern was raised about whether a committee member or organization that could knowingly benefit from the development of ecological restoration sites should participate in the discussions and decision-making on the issues.

Action

After subsequently checking with CAG by-laws, there is a general consensus that all members are welcome to participate in the discussions. Those members/organizations that could knowingly benefit from the development of ecological restoration sites should make their interests known during discussions and refrain from any decision-making.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present: David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Katia Kelly, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid

Item 1

October 4, 2016 and November 1, 2016 meeting minutes approved via email.

Action

None required.

Item 2

Mission statement was discussed and finalized for full committee review.

Action

Dave will circulate.

Item 3

Andrea reported that the NOAA, US Fish & Wildlife, and NYS DEC are presenting at the March CAG meeting. They are the trustees of the Natural Resource Damages Assessment that takes place at the end of a Superfund clean up.

Action

None required.

Item 4

The committee discussed developing a map of potential canal sites where ecological restoration could take place at its next meeting in March.

Action

Andrea will provide background map for the March committee meeting.

Item 5

The committee discussed the height of the new bulkheads. It was agreed that advocating for higher bulkheads is best handled through the rezoning process that is currently underway. Katia shared that Councilmember Lander promised a hydrology study, which would help us evaluate possible bulkhead configurations.

Action

Andrea will follow up with Councilmember Lander’s office.

Please join us for our next General Meeting, on Tuesday, January 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, in Carroll Gardens. All of our meetings are open to the public.

DRAFT AGENDA (all times are approximate)

6:30 – 6:45 PM: Introductions

  • Introductions
  • Approval of February meeting minutes

6:45 – 7:00 PM: Project Updates, Q&A

  • EPA

7:00 – 8:00 PM: Restoration Activities Related to the Gowanus Canal

  • Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment for the Hudson Raritan Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study

8:30 PM: CAG Committee Updates

  • Water Quality and Technical Committee
  • Outreach Committee
  • Land Use Committee
  • Facilitation Committee
  • Archaeology Committee
  • Administration Committee

9:00 PM: Adjourn

From the New York City Department of City Planning:

Gowanus – Workshop Session #1
Working Group Goals and Urban Design

Saturday, March 25th
10:00AM – 12:30PM & 1:30PM – 4:00PM
P.S. 32
317 Hoyt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Come share your ideas at the Gowanus Neighborhood Planning Study’s first public workshop!

Participants will learn about neighborhood goals that community members and City agencies are working on together and contribute their own ideas about land use and urban design through mapping exercises and conceptualizing activities. This is the first public workshop in the planning process to develop a draft planning and land use framework for the neighborhood.

The all-day event will be divided into two time periods with a morning session beginning at 10 AM and an afternoon session beginning at 1:30 PM. Both sessions will cover identical materials – so join us at your own convenience!

Please share this information with your neighbors, colleagues, and friends. We look forward to seeing you and working with you!

From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, announced February 27, 2017:

Notice of Availability

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New York District, announces the availability of Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment (Draft FR/EA) and the opening of a 45- day review period for the public to submit written comments for the Hudson-Raritan Estuary (HRE) Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study. The Draft FR/EA addresses the impacts associated with implementation of ecosystem restoration actions within the HRE Study Area defined as a 25-mile radius of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The HRE study area includes eight (8) planning regions: 1) Jamaica Bay; 2) Harlem River, East River, and Western Long Island Sound; 3) Newark Bay, Hackensack River and Passaic River; 4) Upper Bay; 5) Lower Bay; 6) Lower Raritan River; 7) Arthur Kill/Kill Van Kull ; and 8) Lower Hudson River. The USACE and multiple non-federal sponsors {New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), Westchester County, New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (Former Hackensack Meadowlands Commission) and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)} commenced six (6) concurrent ecosystem restoration feasibility studies in the 1990s and early 2000s that focused on the restoration of different areas of the HRE. In an effort to streamline parallel efforts, and maximize efficiencies, resources, and benefits, the feasibility studies were integrated into the HRE Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study effort. The studies, referred to as “source” studies include:

  • Jamaica Bay, Marine Park, and Plumb Beach Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study;
  • Flushing Bay and Creek Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study;
  • Bronx River Basin Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study;
  • HRE Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study;
  • HRE- Lower Passaic River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study; and
  • HRE- Hackensack Meadowlands Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.

Read more »

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

 

Announcements:

CAG Facilitator Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:35 p.m. December minutes were approved with no revisions. Average attendance in 2016 was 19 members, which means that a quorum for 2017 will be 10 members, the same as last year (defined as 50% of the average attendance of previous year).

 

EPA Updates

Natalie Loney, EPA Region 2 Community Involvement Coordinator, provided the update. She anticipated that there would be questions about EPA contract freeze that had been announced by the Trump administration, though did not have any additional information from what had been reported.

CAG Member: Will the EPA have to renegotiate contracts with all PRPs?
EPA: The Superfund law was written so that it would not be buffeted by political change. The Record of Decision was created under the CERCLA law and the EPA will move forward with the cleanup. The Gowanus cleanup is funded by PRP dollars and will continue.

CAG Member: What is the gag order that is being reported?
EPA: It’s not unheard of for an incoming administration to prefer that agencies don’t speculate about programs as they get to determine policies moving forward. We don’t comment on policy but we can talk about the work we’re doing already. We’re not tweeting or engaging in policy conversations. However, you as private citizens can discuss all aspects of Gowanus.

CAG Member: Is it possible that Walter Mugdan will be replaced?
EPA: Walter is a career employee, not an appointee. Our regional administrator Judith Enck was a political appointee and resigned on the day of the inauguration. Walter, our deputy regional administrator is now the acting regional administrator until a permanent regional administrator has been appointed.

CAG Member: There was a story in ProPublica that the administration is imposing a freeze on grants and contracts. How will this affect the cleanup?
EPA: The cleanup is not grant-funded. The ROD was signed between the EPA and the PRPs – and that is still operational. Again, it is not unheard of for an incoming administration to freeze spending. In general, operations continue depending on the kind of program.

Read more »

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach Committee met on Thursday, January 12, at 6:30 p.m., in the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street.

The agenda included planning for a Community orientation/re-orientation meeting, and a discussion of EXPO Gowanus 2017.

Committee Members Present

Rafael Gomez de Luna
Katia Kelly
Eric McClure
Christine Petro

Guests

Owen Foote, Gowanus Dredgers

Owen Foote offered a number of observations:

  • Organizational structure of CAG hasn’t been adequately introduced to the community.
  • Engagement at Newtown Creek is far superior to the Gowanus CAG. Website, outreach, etc.
  • The CAG website includes no information regarding National Grid’s surcharge to ratepayers. Is the surcharge permanent? Does it sunset? Gowanus Dredgers are getting a lot of questions regarding that, and many other aspects of the cleanup.

Outreach Committee can ask for an update from National Grid and EPA regarding the details of the surcharge: how much, how long? According to Owen, ratepayers are blaming advocates of the Superfund cleanup for increased utility bills.

New York Public Service Commission? Who can explain it? State Assembly or State Senate reps.?

EXPO Gowanus Update

Saturday, May 20, Thomas Greene Park & Douglass Street

CAG tabling at EXPO – Eric did that last year on behalf of the Outreach Committee

GCC looking to involve neighborhood artists in the EXPO; Christine proposes teaming up artists with the CAG to educate and share information. Could the Outreach Committee advise participating artists on what the important takeaways are for the community?

We’ll invite interested artists to the February Outreach Committee meeting. Make sure Natalie is available. We could do a post-meeting walking tour around key features. Help them to understand the history, explain what an MGP is, etc.

Owen: What will the EPA be doing in 2017? What’s the 12-month look-ahead?

Katia: EPA will be dredging the 4th Street basin in 2017 following successful debris clearance in fall of 2016. Also opening up the head end of the 4th Street basin under the 3rd Avenue Bridge.

Can we ask the EPA for a month-by-month timetable? Info is typically more general.

Christine: How do we anticipate the information that people are going to want to know from a Gowanus Superfund 101 meeting? What do businesses want to know?

Owen: Gowanus Dredgers get a lot of questions about the cost of the cleanup, how much has been spent, is $500 million the real number, etc.

Eric reported that Congresswoman Velazquez is not available on March 7th or 9th for a Superfund 101 public meeting. Dan Wiley will supply alternate dates.

Next Outreach Committee meeting: Friday, February 10, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., at 621 Degraw Street.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, January 3, 2017, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present: David Briggs, Nathan Elbogen, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Katia Kelly, Louis Kleinman, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Sue Wolfe, Maryann Young

Guests: Ben Margolis, Chris Reynolds, Brad Vogel

Item 1

Introductions were made. Nathan presented a history of the American Can Factory.

Action

None required.

Item 2

Dave updated everyone on the committee’s recent work.

Action

None required.

Item 3

Nathan suggested writing a mission statement. The committee will consider renaming the committee.

Action

Dave will distribute the two draft mission statements that were circulated early last year.

Item 4

Andrea met with a representative of the NRDA (Natural Resource Damage Assessment). The NRDA is responsible for funding and restoring the ecology of a Superfund site. Given the timeline of rezoning and imminent development, Andrea recommends that the CAG start addressing ecological issues as soon as possible.

Action

Andrea will reach out to Natalie Loney at EPA to see if NOAA can present to the CAG. The Water Quality Committee will discuss at its next meeting.

Item 5

The resolution to preserve trees at the Thomas Greene Playground was reviewed. Based on feedback at the CAG, further revisions were discussed.

Action

Dave will make revisions and distribute.

Item 6

Brad asked about the 5th Street turning basin extension beyond 3rd Avenue.

Action

Committee members will inquire about this at the next CAG meeting.

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

Committee Members present: David Briggs, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Sue Wolfe

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid

Item 1

Review of October 4, 2016 meeting minutes.

Action

Minutes approved with one modification to include Erica Stoltz’s inquiry to DOT if any consideration had been given to naming the new Union Street Bridge in memory of Bette Stoltz.

Item 2

The heights of the new bulkheads along the canal were discussed.

Action

It was agreed that the Department of City Planning probably regulates this.

Item 3

Peter suggested a floating garden for the 1st Street turning basin. Andrea pointed out that NOAA is responsible for the ecological restoration of the Superfund site post clean up; gardens, wetlands, etc. could be created.

Action

Andrea will contact Carl Alderson and ask him to present at a Water Quality Committee meeting; date to be confirmed. Andrea will also invite Catherine Zinnel (Council Member Brad Lander’s office) and Kevin Clarke (DEP) to present to the committee about the turning basin.

Item 4

Two staging areas may be required for the dredging and retention tank installations at the north end of the canal.

Action

Terri Thomson will be find out.

Item 5

A resolution for preserving the trees around the Thomas Greene Playground was discussed.

Action

Dave will prepare a draft and circulate.