Dear Superfund Director Walter Mugdan and EPA Administrator Judith Enck,
It is with many regrets that I write to you regarding your latest plans for the Gowanus Canal Clean-Up. Please understand I am long-time citizen activist who has spent untold hours, always as a volunteer, listening to you.
I have trusted you implicitly. I have believed in you. I have been with you every step of the way in the long and complicated Gowanus Canal Clean-Up process.
As a CAG member, I have reported your words back to the community and I have patiently explained your logic and your thinking in good faith, always believing that you had our highest interests foremost in your minds.
I am not paid by anyone to follow you. Nor am I part of any non-profit group or organization or greater plan. I belong to CG CORD which is an all volunteer coalition.
I am a resident, a home owner, a landlord, a community member, and a concerned citizen. My only objective has always been to advocate for the smartest, fastest, most comprehensive and least expensive Gowanus Canal clean-up. This is for the sake of my children, my neighbor's children, my children's children and for the sake of our shared eco system. In other words I care deeply about the present state of our community, the one in which we inhabit, and its future.
Nowhere in my thinking did I forsee a possible delay in the Gowanus Canal Clean-Up. Never in my wildest dreams did I forsee the taking of three private properties for the canal clean-up when other properties "for sale" exist across the street as I write this. In addition, developers like Alloy have tried to present valid and creative alternatives to the City.
Nowhere in my imagination did I imagine that the Gowanus Canal clean-up would involve a New York City land grab. Never did I forsee the calling of a contaminated area "valuable parkland." Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Gowanus Canal would get re-contaminated with CSO's for years and years after the initial dredging was done!
And perhaps last and worst of all, never did I ever imagine the Federally Funded EPA would be beholden to a PRP, the City of New York.
You say this is the best you, the EPA, can do. And that you would like my comments now. This has been a lot to wrap my head around. I am confused, bewildered and I feel betrayed. To me, it would appear as though you, the EPA, is rudderless, that you have caved into the demands of NYC, its ruthless politicians and political system, and that you have lost or gambled away whatever power you once had. I so hope I am wrong.
Therefore I can only say loudly and clearly:
"PLEASE GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD!"
"PLEASE DO NOT SIGN THIS DEAL IN FRONT OF YOU WITH THE CITY!"
"PLEASE FIND ANOTHER AND A BETTER WAY!"
This deal rankles me on so many levels, some of which are mentioned above, But the primary one is this: We the residents have trusted you the EPA to do what is best for our community NOT what is politically expedient! We have entrusted you the EPA with the health and welfare of our children and our children's children! New York City is a PRP. How will making a deal with a PRP play out in the EPA's future in other communities?
Mr. Mugdan and Ms. Enck, PLEASE FIND AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN FOR THE GOWANUS CANAL!
I KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER!
I KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER!
Artist, Adjunct Art Professor, Art Professor in Residence
Kean University and William Paterson University, New Jersey