Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

CAG Facilitator Doug Sarno opened the meeting at 6:40 PM. CAG members and guests introduced themselves.

July minutes were presented and approved.

EPA Updates

At the July CAG meeting EPA discussed the start of work at the Fourth Street Turning Basin, which was intended to begin in August.

  • At this time, National Grid is having minor challenges getting subcontracting in order.
  • Debris removal has been delayed, and is expected to start sometime in mid-October.
  • This delay allows EPA to develop a more robust communication strategy.
  • EPA will provide fact sheets with visuals to the CAG and the larger community.

Questions and Answers

CAG Member: Do you have a target date for providing the information?
EPA: No, we do not.

CAG Member: Are you referring to the archaeology component?
EPA: No, we are talking about the contractor who will perform the debris removal work.

CAG Member: What does this work involve – will there be sampling? Will it smell?
EPA: There was some sampling taking place behind the bridge and the Al-Madinah School. What we’re talking about is the debris that needs to be removed before dredging can take place; it’s the preparatory (non-remedial) work of removing material from the Canal. Depending on what we find there, there may be some odors, but part of the process will include air monitoring on the perimeter.

CAG Member: There are clearly strong feelings about dredging the Canal. The problem is that there’s been a government claim until all the land on the sides of the Canal have been cleaned so that it doesn’t re-pollute the Canal.
EPA: The Fourth Street Basin is not the area we’re talking about. You don’t see the coal tar migration here like at other locations, for example, the head of Canal. This work is preparatory – we’re not going to be dredging right after that. There is a concern about recontamination of the Canal and portions where there is coal tar down to the native sediment – that’s where the solidification process will take place. There are certain sources upland where EPA is working to address contamination and there are steps being taken to address continued contamination in the Canal. We are not remediating all of those properties.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, October 4, 2016, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

Committee Members present: David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Erica Stoltz, Sue Wolfe

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid; Erica Stoltz, CAG/South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation; Maya Kremen, Geto & Demilly Inc.; Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan, Columbia University Journalism School; Leroy Branch, Community Coordinator, Brooklyn Borough Commissioner’s Office, New York City Department of Transportation; Rahul Shah P.E., Director-Movable Bridges, Bridge Capital Design & Construction, New York City Department of Transportation

Item 1

Review of September 6, 2016 meeting minutes.

Action

Minutes approved without comments.

Item 2

After introductions, Mr. Shah presented fixed and moveable bridge options that could replace Union Street Bridge. Following are a list of criteria that DOT will consider when selecting a final design:

  • With a fixed bridge option, part of the existing bridge can be kept open during construction of new bridge; this is not possible with a moveable bridge.
  • A moveable bridge is approximately 3-4 times more expensive to construct than a fixed bridge.
  • A moveable bridge is more expensive to operate after it is built.

Action

None required.

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Contractors working for the Environmental Protection Agency today began the process of removing debris from the Gowanus Canal’s 4th Street Turning Basin, a necessary first step to facilitate the dredging of toxic materials from the canal bed. The work being performed in the 4th Street Basin, a pilot project that will eventually be replicated throughout the canal, is expected to take several weeks.

gowanus-debris-removal-1

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Natalie Loney briefs reporters on the start of debris removal from the Gowanus Canal’s 4th Street Turning Basin.

The work is being staged from two large barges, which are supporting two excavators. Sonar scans have revealed 36 large objects in the 4th Street Basin, including two boats, a tree, and several pilings. Dredging is expected to begin in the basin in 2017.

Click here for a fact sheet with more information on the debris-removal pilot project.

Please join us for our next General Meeting, on Tuesday, October 27, 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)

5:45 PM: Facilitation Team Pre-Meeting

6:30 – 6:45 PM: Introductions 

  • Introductions
  • Approve minutes from the September 2016 CAG General Meeting

6:45 – 7:30 PM: Project Updates, Q & A

  • EPA

7:30 PM: CAG Committee Updates

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

8:30 PM: Adjourn

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The Environmental Protection Agency will begin a pilot project to remove debris from the Gowanus Canal’s 4th Street Basin on or about Monday, October 24. The work is expected to last three to four weeks.

Debris removal is a precursor to the dredging of contaminated materials, and is necessary to maximize the efficacy of the dredging operation. The work in the 4th Street Basin will inform the EPA’s efforts to remove debris and dredge material from the entirety of the Gowanus Canal.

Work will take place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will not involve any major trucking activity.

Click the link below for more information.

Gowanus Canal Debris Removal Fact Sheet

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Mary Star of the Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street

EPA Updates

Updates on the Fourth Street Basin

Work is being planned at the extension of Fourth Street Basin by Whole Foods and the other side of the Third Avenue Bridge (National Grid is conducting the work). The Record of Decision (ROD) calls for the restoration of the Fourth Street Basin on the Park Slope side of the bridge.

  • When EPA conducted the initial investigation, they only installed one sampling point to help identify the presence of contamination.
  • During the design phase, EPA goes back and collects confirmatory information that might be needed to help in the design. EPA has now added six or seven additional borings to see how far the contamination goes toward Fourth Avenue.
  • The borings are 50 feet deep. EPA is collecting soil cores, making observations, and sending them to lab for testing. EPA will also install wells for testing.
  • The work in the Fourth Street Basin will evaluate methods for removing debris, while also removing all debris in the basin. The work is planned to start August 15 but will move toward the end of August or beginning of September. EPA will notify the community and businesses around the basin before starting work.
  • EPA has received several requests from property owners who need to upgrade their bulkheads. One of them is at the Fourth Street Basin, at a property that used to be a scrap metal facility. The new owners will build a storage facility and want to upgrade their bulkheads. The second request is from 450 Union Street on the bridge side of Carroll Gardens – EPA has received preliminary drawings.
  • EPA met with the City this week under a new order for the retention tank. This was an engineers’ meeting. EPA submitted additional requests for explanations of the City’s design; between now and the next meeting (in September), the goal is to define the basis of the design and resolve differences over how tanks will be built.

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At its September 27, 2016 general meeting, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group passed the following resolution, originally proposed by the CAG’s Land Use Committee.

Whereas the CAG adopted the following resolution in May, 2012:

“The Superfund cleanup should be consistent with and advance current and future plans for ecological restoration, shoreline softening, riparian buffers, expanded wetlands, habitat restoration, and increased public access pursuant to the goals of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Restoration Plan and the community’s emerging vision for the waterway.”

Resolved, that the CAG, building on this resolution and in response to EPA’s June 28, 2016 presentation to the Gowanus CAG, has the following specific goals for the restoration of the 1st Street Turning Basin:

  • that the form and elevation of the restored wetland support the range of salt marsh species and shorebirds that thrive across the littoral zone;
  • that the bulkheads provide a surface to support marine life, specifically mussels, oysters, and juvenile fish;
  • that the footprint and bathymetry of the turning basin be designed to promote natural water flow and discourage stagnation; and
  • that there be a clear plan and funding allocated to regular maintenance and performance monitoring to promote wetland health and manage debris;

Consequently, we ask that the City of New York:

  • adjust preliminary designs as necessary to meet the above goals;
  • take the impact of global warming into account, particularly sea level rise, when planning for the above goals;
  • work with a coastal wetland specialist to model and maximize the ecological performance of the excavated turning basin;
  • work with the adjacent property owners to identify potential for coordination of topography, planting and other landscape features; and
  • provide the CAG with detailed information about how the above actions are being performed.

The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Tuesday, September 6, 2016, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

CAG Members present: David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Katia Kelly, Rita Miller, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Deb Scotto, Mark Shames, Sue Wolfe, Maryann Young

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid; Louis Kleinman, CAG/Waterfront Alliance

Item 1

Review of July 11, 2016 meeting minutes.

Action

Minutes approved without comments.

Item 2

1st Street turning basin: Andrea presented three design options prepared by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and compared them to the turning basin design presented by the EPA at June’s CAG meeting. The pros and cons of each scheme were discussed.

Action

Representatives of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Gowanus by Design, and the 280 Tenants Association offered to reach out to the adjacent property owner to learn how the options would affect their development plans.

Item 3

1st Street turning basin: EPA presented an initial design concept at the June CAG meeting. The committee discussed how this concept was developed and which agencies are responsible for its further development.

Action

Dave will contact Christos Tsiamis and ask him which city, state, and federal agencies generated the design and who has final approval prior to its implementation.

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The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Land Use Committee met on Monday, July 11, 2016, in the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy at 543 Union Street.

CAG Members present: David Briggs, Rafael Gomez de Luna, Andrea Parker, Peter Reich, Buddy Scotto, Mark Shames

Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid; Louis Kleinman, CAG/Waterfront Alliance; Chris Anderson, Gowanus Canal Conservancy

Item 1

Review of June 7, 2016 meeting minutes.

Action

Minutes approved without comments.

Item 2

1st Street turning basin: Land use strategies were suggested, including a salt marsh, direct entry/access from Third Avenue, mitigation of flooding, public access, creating natural contours at mouth of basin, maintaining water quality, ease of maintenance, and flushing mechanism at head of basin.

Action

Andrea, Peter, Chris, and Dave will meet to further discuss strategies.

Item 3

Bulkheads: The committee discussed different bulkhead types, their respective locations, and calculations regarding the amount of water surface area that is displaced by new bulkhead construction.

Action

Dave will contact Christos Tsiamis of EPA.

Item 4

Powerhouse: The organization is in the process of developing a new creative arts center that abuts the canal and 1st Street turning basin.

Action

Andrea will reach out to the Executive Director at Powerhouse and request a meeting to coordinate their landscape designs with the EPA’s proposed work at the turning basin.

Please join us for the regular monthly meeting of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s Outreach & Education Committee. We’ll be meeting in the offices of the Fifth Avenue Committee, at 621 Degraw Street, in Conference Room A on the 2nd floor.

We’ll be brainstorming about the future of the Outreach Committee, trying to decide upon the best day-and-time options for upcoming committee meetings, and discussing key initiatives for outreach to the broader community.

As always, this meeting is open to the public.