Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dear EPA Administrator McCarthy (from CORD): We need your HELP in Gowanus!

Last week, Feb. 16, 2016, the PMFA Blog featured a post entitled "Dear EPA Administrator McCarthy, Gowanus Needs Your Help!" and "Why I Reached Out To Washington Regarding Our Polluted Canal"  in which author, Katia Kelly, explains in detail the mess that has become the EPA decision-making process for the Gowanus Canal clean-up.  LINK

A member of the CAG/Community Advisory Group she writes about her great disappointment in the fact that "politics, not science or engineering seem to have 'contaminated' the process" of the "long-promised environmental EPA clean-up of the Gowanus Canal." LINK  CORD agrees. 

Ms. Kelly explains her disappointment "is not with EPA's Region 2 team, which has been overseeing this particular Superfund project. Headed by Gowanus Canal Project Manager Christos Tsiamis, Legal Counsel  Brian Carr and Community Involvement Coordinator Natalie Loney, the team has worked tirelessly to move the project forward in record time for the good of local residents."  Again, CORD agrees.

She "lays the blame squarely at the feet of Region 2 Regional Administrator Judith Enck, who appears to be disregarding her team's scientific findings and recommendations in order to accommodate the City of New York, one of the primary polluters of the Gowanus Canal."  LINK  CORD agrees with these statements above completely.

Like Ms. Kelly CORD originally wrote to EPA Administrator Judith Enck a few months ago expressing our concerns. LINK  However, we received no response or other action from Ms. Enck.

We, too, recently decided to write to Administrator McCarthy (See our complete letter below). Like Ms Kelly, we feel "in Gowanus, getting rid of raw sewage, liquid tar and PCPs  should be the only environmental justice issue Judith Enck should care about," and that "hopefully, Washington can and will remind her of this." LINK

And we are not the only ones who are very concerned with the recent political maneuvering of Ms. Enck.  Another Gowanus CAG member, Joseph Alexiou, author of the recently published book, "Gowanus, Brooklyn's Curious Canal" wrote about these issue for the Curbed Blog recently.  On Feb. 15, 2016, Alexiou published, "In Gowanus, Stalled Canal Clean-Up Leads Community & Developers to Align" LINK

Perhaps you, too would like to send a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy?   Email: The mailing address is:
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Here, below, is the letter we sent:

February 2, 2016

Dear EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy,

Our organization, CORD, has held a seat on the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group since its inception. 
Prior to that, we were a very vocal proponent in the "Superfund Me" Gowanus Canal campaign.

Once nominated, we had the opportunity to get to know and work with our EPA Region 2 "Team", Walter Mugdan, Christos Tsiamis, Brian Carr and Natalie Loney. We have come to respect their devotion to our community and deeply appreciate their transparency and professionalism.

More than that, we consider our EPA team part of our community because they have consistently shown us just how much they care. 

Attached please find a copy of a letter we sent to EPA Region 2 Director Judith Enck back in November, 2015.
We are aware that others from our community sent similar letters to Ms. Enck at the same time.
We were so pleased with the original plan for the Gowanus Canal as stated in the Record of Decision, with its suggested retention tank site locations, which would provide the results we need in a timely and cost effective manner. 

Most importantly, this remedy, in the configuration suggested would also offer us a Gowanus Canal not easily re-contaminated--in short a win-win-situation. 

It confuses and saddens us that this well conceived, thoughtful, even, frugal plan may be scrapped.
Plans that include Land seized by the City of New York through eminent domain, inevitable, expensive legal wrangling, time and resources wasted. This seems to be what NYC, the main PRP, desires and what Region 2 Administrator Enck is considering!

As CAG members, we were presented an alternative plan by a developer named Alloy.  Their presentation included a gift to NYC and the community of park space. 
Doesn't it make sense to at least consider that offer- which again saves the taxpayers of NYC millions of dollars and still provides additional park space to the community? 
Alloy has even expressed openness to the idea of locating the retention tank on their site should the deal with them go through. 
In addition to that, organizations who protested the ROD suggested site locations have expressed approval of the Alloy plan as well.

We do not understand what is driving Ms. Enck's thinking. It certainly does not seem to coincide with the scientific, factual, sensible thinking that we have come to trust from our EPA Team. 

After reading about the decisions made in Flint, Michigan- where political positioning seems to have trumped scientific reasoning and common sense, we know that we want the decisions that will affect our community for decades to come to be weighed and made based solely upon scientific and engineering expertise.
We thank you for your time.

Lucy DeCarlo, Rita Miller, Triada Samaras
Co Founders, CORD/Coalition for Respectful Development


Please find more information about this issue at our recent CORD posts

"Questionable "policies" under EPA Administrator Judith Enck and a sea-change of attitude by the EPA toward NYC, a Gowanus Canal PRP!" 

"Eminent Domain is Unnecessary, UNFAIR, and Fiscally Irresponsible in Gowanus! (Part Two)" 

"CORD says...New York City Seizing personal property through Eminent Domain is Unnecessary, UNFAIR, and Fiscally Irresponsible! (CORD Letter to Administrator Judith Enck)





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........