Wednesday, July 1, 2009

CORD is FIRMLY convinced about the right course for the Gowanus Canal!


As the end of the public comment period rapidly approaches and all of the meetings have been held and a great deal of information disseminated, CORD is convinced now more than ever, that the nomination of the Gowanus Canal to the National Priorities List as a Superfund site is STILL the best thing that ever happened to our neighborhood.

We do not believe that the City of New York's "alternative" plan affords any tangible benefit to the community in terms of process, result or timeframe.

It is our understanding that the city’s plan is basically an attempt to provide the responsible parties (the polluters) with a deep discount by trying to have a good portion of the polluters’ tab picked up by a federal program known as WRDA. There is a waiting line for the money and long long list of projects that would be ahead of the Canal. And….did we mention?


The City is expending, by their own admission, a great deal of time, energy, effort (and therefore, money), to lobby the federal government to make the canal part of this program. In essence, the City is adding an additional layer of government , personnel and complications to the process while simultaneously adding additional financial burdens upon the already- strapped New York City taxpayer.

Where is the benefit to the community in the City’s plan? We can’t find it.
The EPA through the SUPERFUND program, has the clout to collect the money from the responsible parties, has the expertise and a time improved program already in place to handle situations like our canal. Why does it seem as though the City is trying to stymie it? We can’t figure it out.

For most of us, all of these acronyms, agencies, funding terms, the different phases of the process, the fliers, the meetings, the contradictory information turns all of this into a blur.
There are probably several different , maybe even better scenarios one could use as an analogy to explain the way we see this situation. But, this is ours…….

Suppose a couple of hundred people came to your block and ravaged it, caused incredible damage. Let’s further suppose that there is a government agency, already in place, that does precisely the required type of clean-up work you need, and they came to you and WANTED to help you.

This agency had the ability to identify these block wreckers, the experience to correct the damage and a mechanism, in the form of a legal hammer in place to do the work and collect the money from those block wrecking responsible parties whether those block-wreckers liked it or not. The agency handles this type of situation all the time and they are eager to begin.
How many of you would say, “No, thank you”, to this agency?

Now someone else comes along, let’s call him JOE and JOE offers you the opportunity to insert him and his friends into the picture.

JOE and his friends will be charging you while they see IF they can find a way to bring the block-wrecking responsible parties voluntarily to your block, and IF they can get them a very nice discount on the cost of the damages that they are responsible for. JOE will do this by going to another , outside agency, one that does not recognize your block as a candidate for any help and certainly has not offered or promised any help, to see IF he can get the money from them to help fund the block wreckers so they can fix what they did at a discounted price. And IF this does not work, you can always take the first agency up on their offer.

Now this certainly sounds like a great deal for those who are responsible for the damages, and it is not really clear why JOE and his friends are spending your money as they proceed in this direction, but the real question is…………..WHAT DOES THIS “BIG IF” PLAN DO FOR YOU AND YOUR BLOCK?

Which plan would you choose? The one in place, or the one in JOE’s dreams?
Back to the real world…………..

We have listened to the City very thoroughly on multiple occasions. Members of a number of local grass roots community groups, including CORD, took the opportunity to meet with City officials earlier this week specifically to discuss our deep skepticism in their plan and to implore them to join us and support the designation of the canal to the National Priorities List.
The City declined.

The City is sending their comments and their suggestions to the EPA. You should send yours. Please join us and proudly tell the EPA, “SUPERFUND ME!”

We all have the right, no, the RESPONSIBILITY, to demand that our environment be as healthy as possible! Superfund designation provides the will, the means ,the tools and the experience to make this a reality.

If you have not already done so, please go to. The comment period has been extended to July 8th. For instructions to submit comments go to or contact Dennis Munhall, Region 2 NPL Coordinator at (212) 637-4343 or Note Docket #EPA-HQ-SFUND-2009-0063

You may have signed the petition at , and that’s great….but your comments made directly to the EPA mean so much more! Please go there right now—take a look at some of the things your neighbors are saying--don’t be shy---speak up for our neighborhood ---beg the EPA to put the canal on the National Priorities List as soon as possible!

Thank you.


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........