Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gowanus Canal CAG Meeting: Think Health, Think Environment and then Think of a BIGGER and BETTER Gowanus Canal Area Post-EPA Clean-Up

Hello from CG CORD!
Above:  Riverbank State Park Olympic Size Swimming Pool
679 Riverside Drive Manhattan, NY

Here is our report on the meeting of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) from last week with much new information interspersed.

As we said, Tuesday, October 28th, the General Meeting of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) was held at the St Mary's Residences.

EPA Project Manager/Engineer Christos Tsiamis came to speak with the CAG to dispel some of the inaccurate and misleading information that has recently been circulated regarding  the  toxic contamination in and around the Thomas Greene Park and particularly, its pool and the role of the EPA.  

He mentioned the Gowanus Canal Competition Winners at as a creative point of departure for the CAG members to begin to envision the bigger and better future possible for us in the Gowanus area post EPA clean-up.

For whatever reason, there is a fear amongst the residents who live closest to the pool that they will lose the pool completely and permanently if it is determined that the well documented contamination lurking beneath the pool requires that it be removed for a proper and healthy cleanup of the land.  

Maria Pagano, a CAG member representing the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, brought up that she has been informed that a replacement pool would cost in the neighborhood of  sixty million dollars ($60,000,000) and implied that the cost would eliminate the possibility of that replacement. (THAT MUST BE SOME POOL THE CITY LOOKED AT AS A COST BASE!)

So, therefore, the advocates for the park are so fearful of losing an amenity that they think may not be replaced  that they opt for a lesser cleanup of the place their children play????? 
CORD does not understand this logic.

Why would "advocates" for the park and pool ask for less of a cleanup rather than more?
Why would these advocates not be screaming at the top of their lungs for the cleanest, safest, healthiest environment for those who most enjoy the park and pool?

Witness Riverbank State Park in Manhattan, a 28 acre park built on top of a sewage treatment facility complete with an olympic sized  swimming pool and a skating rink.  (See pool image above)

Seeing that last Tuesday was Election Day, and so few people turned out to vote, perhaps it is the time for all of us to reflect upon what election day and CHOICE really means.  Often, Election Day is just a confusing jumble of information, mailings, TV ads, phone calls and hand shaking from strangers.  The ads, in one way or another, spend their time telling us why one candidate is no good for us while the other is perfect for us.

We try to care but the truth is, we mostly feel removed, powerless and inconsequential.
Well, we should make a conscious decision that from now on, WE elect, WE choose US because  WE are best for US.

What does that mean? It means that we choose common sense. It means that we say, in unison,  the area under and around the park is contaminated---especially under the pool which Mr. Tsiamis pointed out has in some places lakes and deep puddles of this dangerous, toxic goo.

It means we elect say---NY State--you are responsible for the actual cleanup of this site. WE want and deseve the BEST and most thorough cleanup not some quasi spit and a prayer.   
It means we elect to say--National Grid--you are the responsible party for the pollution of this site and should not only remediate as you are supposed to do but help replace any of the amenities--- think of it as another "Cinderella Project".

To clearly envision what we mean check out any of these great examples: 

The Manayunk Sewer Basin Project in Philadelphia
the Juan Solomon City Pari in Indianapolis
and Venice Island in Philadelphia

It means we ELECT to say to the City of New York---you chose to build a park on this site. 

You chose to MAINTAIN and help MAKE IMPROVEMENTS to this site--even when you were aware that there was a strong probability of contamination that eventually would have to be remediated. Now--- CLEAN IT UP PROPERLY AND REPLACE and IMPROVE, ANY AMENITIES THAT ARE TEMPORARILY CLOSED DUE TO THE CLEANUP.

Please click the links above to see what other areas that hold underground retention tanks and even sewage treatment plants now offer above the ground to their community residents.
We found a proof that creativity and purpose can produce some extraordinary results when it comes to turning something that sounds awful into something wonderful.

It means we elect to say that the responsible parties involved here HAVE AN OBLIGATION to set aside those monies now and reveal what they are planning to do for US.
It means we stand together as a community and ELECT to CHOOSE what is best for about a beautiful indoor pool as well as an outdoor one---something that can be enjoyed year round instead of just a couple of months a year?

Let's put our heads together---maybe a beautiful community center- as well--think of the jobs created around such an amenity...Let's think out of the box---let's think BIG
Will it cost? Yes, it will. But the City of NY knows it must pay its share in the cleanup. And part of its share should be that they FULLY REPLACE and improve the amenities that are suspended or removed during the cleanup.

THE EPA is NOT THE ENEMY. They are not looking to take anything--they are here to help keep all of us safer and healthier---

LET'S ELECT to DEMAND THE BEST. Let's starty choosing what we want and make it known....
Let's CHOOSE to put our efforts there instead of looking for ways and means to divide us and have us bicker when we really all want the same thing.....
Let's CHOOSE to stop thinking small----let's CHOOSE to start really thinking about what is safest and best for our community!


If you are truly a friend of Thomas Greene Park---think HEALTH, think ENVIRONMENT, and then THINK BIGGER... Let's work and dream together!

We invite people to share their ideas/visions/hopes/dreams with us for the site/park:
Please email us at


For more information please see:

"Think With Us:  EPA Provides Bigger Picture in Regards to Siting One of Two Gowanus Retention Tanks"


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........