Monday, April 30, 2012

CORD Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting Summary

Hello from Carroll Gardens CORD!
Tuesday night's  general CAG meeting took place at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The meeting was attended by nineteen members of the CAG as well as an assortment of guests.
The night's business included, among other things, a vote on a resolution proposed by the Water Quality/Technical Committee, which came out of a meeting the CAG had with the DEP earlier in the month.
Please read the resolution below:
Proposed Resolution:
A resolution passed by the WQ/Technical Committee will be up for a ratification vote by the full CAG at the 4/24 meeting:
 "The Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Group fully supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its finding that New York City’s Combined Sewer Overflows are a significant contributor of harmful sediment and Superfund regulated PAHs and metals to the canal. The CAG takes the position that the total elimination of CSOs into the Gowanus Canal is the only acceptable solution to the problem. The CAG asks that the EPA, under their Superfund authority, take the necessary measures that will insure protection of the proposed remedy from ongoing CSO sediment solids deposits and the release of PAHs and other toxins."

 Much to the surprise of some of the CAG members (CORD included), the facilitator announced at the beginning of the meeting that the DEP had sent a representative to the meeting in order to make a "presentation".. Initially, we were told they wanted twenty minutes, then down to ten then maybe we could grant them five minutes.
The facilitator suggested several scenarios whereby the DEP could speak before or after the Water Quality/Technical Committee presented the resolution to their fellow CAG members.
It was completely obvious to the Water Quality/Technical Committee members, who had worked on the proposal for several days prior to its presentation, that the DEP was there to persuade the group to accept their version of how the cleanup should proceed.
Why? Because after the Water Quality/Technical Committee's meeting with the DEP earlier this month,it was apparent that the city has no intention of doing anything more than what they already have in the works in regard to the canal...and it simply is not enough....
The science is clear----besides the raw sewage---there are dangerous chemicals and heavy metals that are being emitted into the canal through the cso's---some of these dangerous compounds actually wind up attaching themselves to the "solids"---and wind up accumulating at the bottom. Something must be done to address this once and for all.
We have talked about the city's Green Infrastructure and Long Term Control Plans. These are city wide programs--good programs---expensive programs--but they DO NOT tackle the complicated and massive problem of the Gowanus Canal---they in fact only address a very small percentage of the overall problems we have throughout the entire city in regard to our sewer system--they do not address the toxins and the reasons that the canal was designated a superfund site in the first place.
Keep your ears open and you will hear the city say things now like the EPA is moving too fast----incredible! It was the city who tried to talk the community out of allowing the feds in by whining that the process would be so slow, the city could do it better and faster, etc etc etc---now that the EPA is moving along right on target, and by the way, ahead of anything that the city promised....all of a sudden it's going too fast
Also, watch out and listen for things like the benign.....we want all the agencies to work together and coordinate their efforts.....
This is code for the city to try to get their Long Term Control Plan kicked into gear before the EPA can begin (that  city plan is not set to even begin until 2015--look at the name, "long term"--that means final results are not for twenty or thirty years!---the EPA will be presenting their proposed plan this summer/early fall) ---the city  just seems determined to slow the process down.
The truth is that the federal government is going to spend a half a billion dollars cleaning up the toxic sediment in the canal and prevent additional contamination from the surrounding uplands from entering the canal..
....and the city plans on continuing to dump more toxic and cross toxin contaminated bacterial waste on top of it!
If the CSO's emissions, documented by the EPA in their studies, are not addressed by the city in a more effective manner, we will be literally throwing our money and the epa's efforts into the toilet. How ridiculous and wasteful is that?!
The CAG, made up of local residents, business owners and community groups made a very clear is important that the science remain the focus- that the CAG supports the remedies that will address what the studies have shown.The EPA studies are clear and posted for all to see with even more information to come.

It is important that all of us keep in mind that the end goal is a clean and healthy canal and environment----and that we focus on demanding those measures needed to attain that goal----not be swayed by city wide programs designed to meet other city wide obligations the city must meet.
More than an hour later, after a spirited discussion, a vote was taken and it was decided that the DEP would not speak....the resolution was presented and discussed and the the CAG approved the resolution. One tiny step---but an important one.
 It  clearly shows that we want and expect what most of us had in mind from the day we heard that the canal would be superfunded---a clean canal that does not endanger public health---
Eymund Diegel and Angela Murphy, members of the Archaeology Committee, presented a delightful slide show and a great history lesson on the Gowanus and offered up some wonderful suggestions on how we can commemorate the Canal's important place in Brooklyn's past and present.
Next meeting....end of May.


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........