Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frogg CoFounder Speaks Out on EPA Nomination of Gowanus Canal

Here is a comment made to the EPA by Frogg member, Margaret Maugenest.

An FYI on FROGG and a recent FROGG award follows this letter. To write to the EPA see the top right-hand section of this CORD blog. Thank you. CORD

Document ID EPA-HQ-SFUND-2009-0063-001
Document Title National Priorities List; Proposed Rule No. 50

I have been a Gowanus resident since 1984. The EPA nomination of the Gowanus Canal for
Superfund clean up is the best and most welcome news. YES! PLEASE put the Gowanus on the Superfund list. And please take over complete control of the clean up.

At the April 13 EPA meeting, Mr. Mugdan of the EPA made it very clear to the community that if the Gowanus is EVER to be cleaned up, then this is the BEST and ONLY way that it will get
done. That was good enough for me. Mr. Mugdan explained that Congress gave Superfund
powerful tools. You have the scientific data; you know how complex the water/land toxicity
interaction/history is. You know that it will take ALL the tools available to remediate the canal as much as possible. Settling for a Superfund alternative, such as was suggested by Dan Walsh of the Mayor’s Office, takes away some of those powerful tools Mr. Mugdan explained. And please do not settle for alternative clean-ups suggested by those who are impatient because their agenda is to make profit from the Gowanus as quickly as possible.

The developer Toll Bros. has spent $350,000 to get the spot rezoning to build 450 residential
units on the canal. Groups like the Gowanus Conservancy and The Gowanus Community
Development Corporation (headed by the same individual) have been instrumental in
encouraging dense, and high, residential development. When the community expressed outrage and concern about putting dense residential development along the toxic canal, their response was that it would take large numbers of people living along the canal to put enough pressure on the government to clean it up. Now that the EPA has come, these same people are saying that the canal is clean enough as it is for residential development. Toll Bros. has been quoted as saying that the “canal isn’t really that dirty.”

These same people are also saying that the private sector can do a better job of cleaning the
canal. Given that they don’t think it is that dirty, how can they be trusted? They don’t have the
tools. They don’t have the intention.

Toll Bros. has hired lawyers and a PR firm to fight against Superfund. There is an intensive
effort to get local residents angry and afraid, saying that Superfund will put a stigma on the
neighborhood, lower their property values. But as Mr. Mugdan pointed out, the Gowanus is
already a de facto Superfund because of the Brownfield programs. Cleaning up the canal must precede any other action along the canal. I thought Mr. Mugdan did a very good job of reassuring the community that Superfund will remediate according to the intended use of the land.

City Planning put out a Gowanus rezoning knowing full well what the reality was here as far as
the toxicity of the water and land. Mayor Bloomberg NEVER made public any plan to address
the problem. So if the problem were left to the city and state, we’d still be nowhere. That’s why
we need the Federal Government to make things right. Because according to Mr. Mugdan, you already have enough science and facts, and I feel confident that the EPA will do the right thing.

Margaret Maugenest

PS I am one of the founding members of FROGG. FROGG will also be submitting a more
comprehensive comment.

FROGG e-group FYI

"Sponsored by FROGG, Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus, this egroup will enable the free exchange of information and ideas about the Gowanus.

We are a community based grass-roots organization advocating for environmentally sound community planning for the Gowanus Canal neighborhoods.

The Gowanus Canal is a very unique resource for our community and all of New York. It has long historal significant as a pre-industrial and industrial transportation waterway in addition to playing a significant roll in the Battle of Brooklyn. This natural tidal estuary connects our urban world to the waters that surround us and opens our city to the natural habitat it was built upon. Even today, it provides an open sky, early industrial/estuary landscape that can not be matched anywhere in our city.

With extensive urban Brownfields and an Aquatic Brownfield standing, we work to see this water way brought back to life with water quality standards that sincerely meet state standards for fishable and contact use; not only for the community but also for local wildlife. "

Please join us. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FROGG/

Frogg was honored by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) recently!

Environment: FROGG (Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus) were honored for their work on advocating for two very obvious things: 1.) that the Gowanus canal should be cleaned up BEFORE development occurs there (and anyone who has seen the canal on a bad day knows that clean up is desperately needed), and 2.) that increased development density should not happen until the city can upgrade our infrastructure like sewers (we ALREADY have widespread problems with sewage backups into homes BEFORE all this development). These are simple things, yet our city government and developers ignore the need for environmental cleanup and infrastructure needs before development. Our crowded roads, inadequate sewer system, inadequate fire house coverage (cut back by Bloomberg repeatedly!), inadequate schools, etc. cannot handle the development our government pushes for. FROGG is one of the few organizations advocating common sense on these issues.



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........