Monday, August 15, 2016

More Comments from Our Readers Re: Brad Lander's "Bridging Gowanus:" Semantics or Some Antics?

CG CORD has received a number comments on our recent blog post, Brad Lander's "Bridging Gowanus:" Semantics or Some Antics?  


Please read what your neighbor, Patricia Constantino, has to say:
"I totally agree with you. I started to fill in the "Survey" and then stopped and got out of it. I felt like it was not looking for community input but enforcing Lander's and the developers' plan. I don't remember details of the "Survey" only that something in my gut told me not to fill it out."

"Maybe we can make city government changes for the better in the next election."

Patricia Constantino 


We encourage you to send your comments to cgcord@gmail.com.
We will only reprint if YOU specifically request us to do so.  We will never print your comment without your permission. Don't be shy...this is YOUR neighborhood!

CG CORD

Friday, August 12, 2016

Comments From Our Readers re: Brad Lander's "Bridging Gowanus:" Semantics or Some Antics?"

CG CORD has received a number comments on our recent blog post, Brad Lander's "Bridging Gowanus:" Semantics or Some Antics?  LINK

Please read what your neighbor, Margaret Maugenest, has to say:

"The Bridging Gowanus survey has been carefully engineered. Surveys can be skillfully designed to manipulate the desired results. The respondent is forced, one way or another, to give the answers and results desired by the survey maker. This is done by cunningly restricting the questions and choices (and plus and minus rules on top to boot???)"
  
"And by participating, you are not really given the opportunity to “weigh in” at all - but rather you give the survey makers the opportunity to say you had a chance to participate (according to their rules of content and response etc). In other words, your participation is part of their strategy to give you what they want and say you asked for it."

"I, for one, have no intention of participating in the survey and becoming part of their tool. I don’t care how many people endorsed Bridging Gowanus in the newsletter sent out by Lander’s office – that being another part of the manipulation."

"The only transparency is that Brad Landers wants to deliver the goods to the developers for their Gowanus land grab. Everything else is lip service and theater. We’ve been through these “ envisionings" before. No matter how people responded, the results reported were always the same and played right into the hands of what the developers wanted."   Margaret Maugenest

We encourage you to to send your comments to cgcord@gmail.com.
We will only reprint if YOU specifically request us to do so.  We will never print your comment without your permission. Don't be shy...this is YOUR neighborhood!

CG CORD 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Brad Lander's "Bridging Gowanus:" Semantics or Some Antics??



                                                                         
As many of you already know, Brad Lander's office has recently sent out via a wide email net, the "next step" in the reshaping of our neighborhood.

OUR neighborhood?? This is a Bridging Gowanus survey!--as many of you may cry....What does this have to do with us??

The answer is simple....EVERYTHING.

Realtors and developers may have discovered  some time ago that renaming places and branding certain streets within an area as one thing or another---or even calling them different names, was a great marketing tool. 

Truthfully, some of us liked it too. Suddenly there we were on "Cool in Your Code" or maybe our street or  business featured on that show that takes place on a stoop. Suddenly, it was very important to define EXACTLY what "area" our street was part of.... what absolute and utter nonsense.

Let's take a human  look at what a community really is. Communities are made up of people, businesses and homes that share things in common. Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, BoCoco, Cobble Hill are all just names. WE are the ones that are sharing common spaces, common places, common experiences.

If you have any doubts about this, just take a look around you. Carroll Gardens and Gownaus, especially, share all of the following spaces, services and facilities---transportation, education, sanitation, recreation, religious observation, shopping and the very streets we walk on each and every day.

We are all affected when the train and bus service is inadequate.
We are all affected when there is not enough room in our schools for our children and grandchildren.
We are all affected when our streets are perpetually littered with large household refuse because of poorly considered sanitation protocol.
We are all entitled to a generous amount of green, open, recreational spaces that offer the opportunity for year round diversity of activities----including  educational programs--and we all suffer together when these needs are unmet.
And when our streets flood and our friends and neighbors basements and/or homes are imperiled, or our quality of life is endangered--we are all in trouble, together.

So let's get back to the "Survey". The Bridging Gowanus site has a little button on top labeled, 'WEIGH IN"---this is not an accident since your opportunity to weigh in can hardly be called a survey at all. In fact, the definition of the word, "survey", is to examine or look at comprehensively; to inspect carefully, to scrutinize.

Indeed, this is NO SURVEY. Instead you are expected to respond to a series of suggestions with either a + or - response. Unfortunately, you are only allowed three (3) plusses (+) and one (1) minus (-) and you cannot enter a minus (-) anywhere unless you also enter at least one (1) plus (+) somewhere. Did I mention that there are many categories and pages and ideas lumped together and  that you are restricted to use only your pre-determined (by them) amount of plusses and minuses?

Are you confused yet? That's  too bad because before you even can begin you must click on the 'UNDERSTOOD" button, which explains the rules before you even see the entire format. To be fair, you are able to go back and forth and re-read the instructions, etc and there are reminders as you proceed that you are either plus or minus deficient/excessive.

We didn't know we would need such deep boots to wade through this and we quickly got  stuck in the muck.  And frankly, given the limited choices and the deliberately constrictive mode of responding, we were wary of submitting anything at all. So, we didn't.

Did we mention that it must be submitted by Sept 15th?? Wouldn't it allow for a broader response if its circulation and expiration dates were during the time of the year when most people are actually here to weigh in? Labor Day is the 5th. Neighbors returning from summer holidays are often very busy the first few weeks of September when so many things are beginning again once the summer is over. Sure, you can argue that an online survey allows you to participate no matter where you are, but is it really fair to distribute an exercise as convoluted, confusing and time consuming as this and expect people who are on vacation to respond?

What is the reason that the cut off date cannot be extended till the end of October, November or even December? This is so important--what's the rush?

Why wouldn't Brad, OUR Representative, want the most thoughtfully considered responses possible? 

Brad--you are either including the community in this process---or you are not. You do not get to have it both ways....

We have some questions and comments for you regarding these so-called "overreaching goals"-- below is just a small sampling:

Why is it necessary to build multi-story housing along the banks of the Canal when the Canal is the epicenter of the flood zone? 

Why are there no suggestions regarding a broader area of manufacturing/work/living spaces? 
The "weigh-in" talks about "strengthening"  manufacturing but does not talk about including, indeed, expanding more manufacturing and artist living space along with it.

Haven't we learned that people who live and work in the same place have a deeper investment in the area and enrich the fabric of the entire community?

Why are we stacking people up vertically to live cheek by jowl ahead of the necessary and thoughtful improvements to infrastructure when we know that it will not reap the best result? 

We have a chance here to try something genuinely unique, practical and exciting; Not to mention less taxing on our current infrastructure which we all know darn well will never catch up with Brad's plan!

Why is it necessary to add more and more stories to residential buildings in order for the CIty of New York to provide adequate transportation, education, sanitation, and recreational facilities to the people that are already here?

How does increasing an already densely populated area accomplish what cannot be accomplished now? The City of New York is not going to do any better---the only thing besides the population that will expand will be the inadequacies.

Why is it necessary for developers who are in the business of making money on the development that they create-- to receive tax abatements? Most times, they do not live here. They do not ultimately deal with the effects of their developments on the community. As a friend of ours in the construction business once told us, "...the cellar, the first floor and roof are your real costs--every single story you add to that is more and more gravy...".Yet whether their product(s) impact the neighborhood positively or negatively--they are given extended relief from paying property taxes.

Where is OUR relief? We are, after all, the ones who put up with the noise, the dirt the grime the inconveniences of their construction phases. And quite often, there are negative effects on the neighboring homes and businesses once their projects are complete. In spite of this--- good, bad or indifferent, our property taxes go up every year.

There is something wrong with that. Rising home values and our rising property taxes in our community tell me that we are more than helping to support NYC. The "some is good, more is better" attitude is sometimes true--and when it comes to money, let's be honest--its real.. But the "more and more" should not  have to come from us alone---those who wish to make money here should be willing to pay what it takes- or there is no deal. 

You would think someone who is supposed to represent US would be the most interested in US......It appears however, as though it's Brad's Plan's Way or the Highway-

We have provided a link here to the "survey/weigh-in":  LINK  No matter what you call it or how you frame it---whether you punch in plusses and minuses with whole hearted fervor or mild amusement---understand that this "exercise", just like the earlier phase of the Bridging Gowanus process, is skewed to obtain a desired result and it is  going to be used to justify that result. https://vote.d21.me/vote/EJe2M9eDvW

We suggest that you put your hip boots on--you might want to bring along a shovel too.

CG CORD/Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development.
Write to us at cgcord@gmail.com


For More Info SEE:

Proposal for Taller Buildings in Gowanus Gets Mixed Reaction From Locals

Brad Lander and His "Trade Off" Urban Planning for Gowanus

Take Back Gowanus Challenges Brad Lander's Shared Values

On-air 
The Brian Lehrer Show:  Taking Back the Gowanus Canal
WNYC story about Gowanus that aired recently 
Of Councilman Brad Lander, Pratt Center for Community Development, and the Final Bridging Gowanus Meeting Next Monday

Gowanus Residents Debate Future of Area

Disparate Factions Unite to Take Back Gowanus From Overdevelopment


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mayor Bill DeBlasio makes negative news once again. Is anyone surprised?

Dear Readers,

Do you all remember the long and anguished fight to save our local hospital, LICH? 

"Are Downtown Brooklyn residents in danger of dying in an ambulance? Help Keep LICH OPEN!" 

 

 http://carrollgardenspetition.blogspot.com/2013/07/are-downtown-brooklyn-residents-in.html

 

"Brooklyn Fights for Its Life but Sees Death on the Way to the Hospital" LINK


Do you remember when then Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio deliberately used his supposed protest of the hospital's sale to get an invaluable mayoral campaign photograph of himself in a police car? (See image below.)




Finally do you remember the seems of betrayal you felt when the MAYOR DeBlasio did not follow through on his words to the community?

"Bill DeBlasio Has No Regrets About Declaring LICH Saved"

http://observer.com/2014/05/bill-de-blasio-has-no-regrets-about-declaring-lich-saved/

 
Above: Bill de Blasio, then the New York City public advocate and a candidate for mayor, outside the hospital in July 2013. Credit Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times


Perhaps you got one of those letters of solace Mayor DeBlasio's then not for profit (now defunct) 'Campaign for One New York' paid to have publicized?

The letter was written by a former Executive Committee member of the once somewhat 
active Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association (aka CGNA)

It's goal was apparently to appease the angry and disappointed local residents. 

By the time the letter was distributed, the CGNA no longer held meetings, no longer put out any neighborhood bulletins nor hosted any public "forums" to discuss community concerns.

It was, in short, an extremely odd and very unsuccessful attempt at placating the community. 


To learn that this intended piece of propaganda was in fact financed,
indeed, produced, by Bill de Blasio's Campaign for One New York says a great deal about the Mayor's true plans and intentions for LICH and as a byproduct, the health and welfare of all of us. 

"Is DeBlasio the Next to Go?" (see half way down the page)

http://www.star-revue.com/de-blasio-next-go-op-ed-george-fiala/
 
Well, now the times they are a changing and the Feds are looking into that dubious LICH sale.   Please read the latest in the NY Times and NY Daily News Articles (below). Finally!

Is CG CORD surprised? Not even one tiny bit. Are you?

CG CORD
Write to us at cgcord@gmail.com

NY Times
Brooklyn Hopsital's Sale, Backed by DeBlasio and Cuomo, Is Drawing Federal Scrutiny

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/30/nyregion/brooklyn-hospitals-sale-backed-by-de-blasio-and-cuomo-is-drawing-federal-scrutiny.html

New York Daily News
Feds Investigating Mayor DeBlasio's involvement in sale of Lonh Island College Hospital

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/feds-investigating-de-blasio-long-island-college-hospital-sale-article-1.2725903

Thursday, June 23, 2016

ENRAGE not Engage. Councilman Brad Lander has done it again in Gowanus.

Photo of Councilman Brad LanderCourtesy of Daily News
Councilman Brad Lander has once again managed to enrage the community residents of Gowanus and Carroll Gardens by NOT engaging them as he so often promised he would.

Instead, it is politics as usual as he begins Bridging Gowanus Act II, essentially, in the dark.

Evidently, annoying many community members once was not enough. When the Bridging Gowanus process began 18 months or so ago, it was touted as a new kind of community planning--one that promised transparency, genuine community discussion and input. But when it was over, it was reduced to a survey which included a series questions and answers that assumed certain facts were already understood.

For example: would you be willing to add 2 stories to a building for a school
or 4 stories for a library or 6 stories for a hospital?

That's like asking if you would rather die by hanging, shotgun or poisoning---it assumes that you want to die in the first place.

Many complained, some refused to participate yet the press releases only speak praise of the "conclusions".

A recent City Limits article written by Abigail Lew claims that sixteen (16) participating organizations approved the take aways from this survey.

CORD contacted Lander's office to find out who these 16 organizations were--since that number did not seem accurate. We were told to contact the article's author and directed to a press release which named a couple of names. Ok. Fair enough. But, we asked Lander's office, specifically, Catherine Zinnel, our liaison, to provide us with the names of ALL of the organizations that participated in the Bridging Gowanus Experiment.

We were told that they "do not have that".  Unbelievable! When reminded that we signed into those meetings and were asked for our names AND or organization or affiliation--we were told that she would be happy to present us with a list of those organizations that will participate in the upcoming "handful of small meetings"-which you will learn more about below-but had no way of providing the original participating members. Even more unbelievable!! 

Let's fast forward to the present. CORD has learned that there have been at least two (2) closed door meetings orchestrated by Lander's office that have included City Planning and certain members/organizations in the community to discuss Bridging Gowanus next steps.

We have been told that these are NOT planning meetings--but rather a small handful of (like minded??) groups who are meeting to discuss what they have been doing over the past 18 months vis a vis Bridging Gowanus. Kind of like playing catch up with the Councilman.

If these are not planning meetings then what is City Planning doing there? Or have we gotten to the point in Brooklyn where our property taxes have provided such a surplus to the city coffers that City Planning has the time to sit and shoot the breeze with handfuls of small groups?

CORD was invited to one of these meetings (after the first two were sort of out of the bag) along with our friends at FROGG.

When we asked Lander's office why the whole community was not being included in these meetings via either a town hall meeting or a discussion at the public meetings held monthly by the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (the CAG), we were told that these NON PLANNING meetings being held which include City Planning employees would be non productive in such settings.

The EPA does it all the time -- It seems to work just fine when they do it.

So Readers, CORD declined the invite. We informed Lander's office that these types of meetings do not reflect the transparency, community input and exchange of ideas that occur when the whole community comes together

No one group, no one organization and no handful of like minded people have the authority to decide what happens to an entire community.

And no Councilman, or publicly elected official, who is a temporary employee of his constituents, has the right to orchestrate or manipulate any community or any community discussion to produce the outcome he or she desires.

What do YOU think?
Write to us at cgcord@gmail.com

If you would like, CORD will print you comment.  (See bottom of this page)

CG CORD

More Information at:
How Shameful!  
Without Public Announcement Councilman Lander Stepping Up Gowanus Community Planning Process http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2016/06/how-shameful-without-public.html

Which Neighborhoods will DeBlasio's Rezonings Target Next?
http://citylimits.org/2016/05/31/which-neighborhoods-will-de-blasios-rezonings-target-next/
Local Gowanus Community Very Frustrated with Councilman Brad Lander's "Bridging Gowanus"
http://carrollgardenspetition.blogspot.com/2014/06/local-gowanus-community-very-frustrated.html

Proposal for Taller Buildings in Gowanus Gets Mixed Reaction From Local http://brooklynbrief.com/disparate-factions-unite-to-take-back-gowanus-from-overdevelopment/
 
Frustration With Councilman Lander's "Bridging Gowanus" Expressed Clearly And Loudly At Last Night's Final Meeting

Gowanus activists to pol: You’re not listening! • The Brooklyn Paper

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/37/27/dtg-gowanus-planning-occupy-2014-07-04-bk_37_27.html

Brownstoner Thursday Blog Wrap
http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2014/06/thursday-blogwrap-149/ 

Frustration With Councilman Lander’s “Bridging Gowanus” Expressed at Final Meeting
http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2014/06/frustration-with-councilman-landers.html 


New York State DEC/Dept. Environmental Conservation takes a major DUMP in Carroll  Gardens, pooh-poohing the toxic poo poo in the Gowanus Canal and the resultant health risks


COMMENTS:

6/26/2016
"Reading your email regarding this so-called Bridging Gowanus Process I find this so_called Process undemocratic. I think that there is a lot of wheeling and dealing going on behind closed doors. 

How can we undo or prevent the damage that I see will be done to our neighborhood and therefore to our community?"

Regards,

Patricia Constantino
3rd Street



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Moving Tribute and Letter from a Carroll Gardens/Gowanus Community Member to the EPA About Its Potential "Deal' with the City of New York


May 31, 2016

Re: Gowanus Canal Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order for Remedial Design, Removal Action and Cost Recovery

Dear Director Walter Mugdan:

I appreciate your administrative team’s effort in trying to mediate the EPA’s Superfund position with the City of New York and coming out to Brooklyn to explain it. However, I still believe that Glenn Kelly was on target with his comment that the agreement between EPA and the City of New York may very well be “a problem to a solution rather than a solution to a problem.” I am writing to ask you to consider that possibility and either reject the agreement or amend it to prevent any delay and move the remediation forward as stated in the ROD. Please don’t allow the City to alter or change what has been thoroughly researched, written, approved and signed off in the ROD.

When I started my involvement in community activism, I was just an observer. As I sat and listened to the many different layers of viewpoints, I sensed that many community members all have experienced the City’s evasive tactics for many decades.  This agreement reminded of the day that Cas Holloway from the City of New York presented the City’s grand Alternate clean-up plans to the community. They spent thousands of dollars to divert the nomination. It seems that we have circled back to their plan. If so, I plead with you not to let that happen or we will lose the timely momentum that have been achieved toward the clean-up already.

Around 2008, I joined a group of grassroots activists to preserve and protect our community. I had no financial or political aspiration to get involved, only a love for a neighborhood I called my “home”. During my involvement, I have been so honored to have met many genuinely kind, generous and selfless individuals. They have become my heroes and now my extended family (Pardon Me for Asking blogger, Katia Kelly and her husband Glenn Kelly; CORD founders, Rita Miller, Triada Samaras, Lucy deCarlos; FROGG founders, Linda Mariano, and Marlene Donnelly, and so many others) These people matched my beliefs in wanting to protect and preserve the historic beauty and open space we were so lucky to have and live in.

Around 2009 a new group of people were added to my list. It was You and the Region 2 staff (Christos Tsiamis, Natalie Loney, and Brian Carr). I hung on every word you said. You and your team were straightforward and sincere to our concerns. You and your team left us feeling safe. You were known among us as the “white knight on a white horse” here to finally stand for what you represented as a government agency to protect the environment and the health and safety of the people. You promised transparency, you promised to work and listen to our community and you kept those promises. I created buttons to send out our message and to stand strong with those who were sent to protect our environment. I wore my buttons proudly and I meant every word that was written. With your support and guidance, we formed a CAG group and combined over 60 community organizations and at large members to report back to you of what we needed. You listened and understood our concerns and accommodated where you could. When the ROD was signed, sealed and delivered to us. We all believed this was the LAW, a powerful tool to move the cleanup forward. We believed the assurance that if a PRP doesn’t take action that the EPA Superfund takes over and does the work and afterward retrieves 3Xs times the cost back.  The Region 2 team amazed us with their commitment and their determination we were finally seeing the light on the other side of the tunnel.

This agreement with the City of New York, however throws me off that path of hope for a clean canal. I fear that the extended time you allowed the City the further away our goal to a clean and healthy canal will be. You and your staff will retire and new members with little knowledge and commitment will let the time slip further. The agreement is too open for interpretation and I feel the City will find again another loophole.

I believe and stand by Katia Kelly, PardonMeforAsking blogger of her thorough analysis of this action you are about to embark into with the City. This is a land grab and the City is using your sense of fairness against you and us and it seems that the EPA Administrative team has given up and dismissed the plead of the whole community.

The amazing CORD ladies have captured and summed up in their public comment sent to you on May 24, 2016 which bears repeating* (see LINK) all my disappointment, as well as my confusion on the pending agreement between the EPA and the City of New York.

Yes,” it is all so terribly disheartening and sad.”

CORD founders (Rita Miller, Triada Samaras, Lucy deCarlos), Katia Kelly, Marlene Donnelly, and Linda Mariano have always spoken “truth to power” and have always been dedicated to the purest form of community activism. They continuously fight to do the right thing voluntarily with no political or financial aspiration.  Lately they have been villainized by nonprofit groups who receive funding from the City of New York and accused of environmental injustice in order to weaken their creditability. If you know them as I do, all these false accusations are deterrents. In reality, they have inspired me to always do the right thing and never give up. They are the true meaning of Margaret Mead’s quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

If the agreement with EPA and the City is a done deal will you seriously consider CORD, FROGG and Katia Kelly’s concerns and amend the agreement accordingly. Will you do the right thing too and stand with us again to move the full cleanup of the Gowanus Canal forward without further delay?



Yours respectfully,

Maryann Young

Owner/Resident Carroll Gardens, and CORD Alternate, CAG

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Letter to the EPA

Dear Walter,

My husband and I are Carroll Gardens homeowners living just a few blocks from the Canal. 

We discussed what we would  like to say to you regarding the pending agreement between EPA and NYC at great length. 

Should we express our frustration? Anger? Dismay? Disappointment? Outrage?

Should we shrug and say- well, at least the clean up plan is still a go-we suppose it will eventually be finished. 

Does it really matter to us that it will be a multi year delay, be much more expensive and have to be re cleaned at further taxpayer expense?

Is the seizure of someone else's private property our problem? Are the losses of businesses and jobs that are not our own really significant?

Will the recontamination of the Canal due to the delayed timing (which by your own estimate can be anywhere from 2-8 years) of the retention tank construction/installation post capping and cleaning really make the Canal that dirty?

And then it hit us. 

When the Canal was nominated to the NPL there were many people, some business owners and residents as well as local organizations who loudly protested. They claimed the Superfund status was not needed. 

They screamed it would take too long, cost too much, endanger property and business and send jobs packing. 

Our then Councilman, now Mayor DeBlasio was quoted as saying " the Canal is dirty but it is not that dirty."

The EPA submitted a timeline to the community, began its work and continued to prove those naysayers wrong on each and every one of their points. 

So, what we wish to say to you today is that this agreement, coincidentally (?) supported by many of the same people and organizations who opposed the NPL listing--provides us with EXACTLY what the City of New York and the naysayers predicted. 

This clean up will now take longer, cost taxpayers much more money, properties will be seized and lost to those owners, jobs will be lost and businesses will be sent packing. 

And in the end, Bill DeBlasio's statement will be true--the Canal will be dirty but not that dirty. 

We hope that you will reconsider. Don't sign the agreement. Please defend and enforce the original ROD. 

Respectfully,
Rita and Gerry Miller
103 2 Place

Brooklyn, NY 11231

CORD HISTORY:

With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?crlgrdns