Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Our Letter to Administrator Enck and Director Mugdan Regarding : Gowanus Canal Administrative Settlement Agreement And Order For Remedial Design, Removal Action and Cost Recovery

CG CORD/Carroll Gardens-Gowanus 
Coalition for Respectful Development

Regarding :
Gowanus Canal Administrative Settlement Agreement And Order For Remedial Design, Removal Action and Cost Recovery 
May 24, 2016

Dear Administrator Enck and Director Mugdan,

It is with deeply conflicting emotions and heavy hearts that we write to you regarding the pending agreement between the EPA and the City of New York.

Our organization, CORD, is a completely volunteer group. We are local residents,home owners, business owners, parents, children and grandparents. We do not have nor have we ever sought not for profit status.  We receive funds from no one and we do not seek or accept donations. We devote our time to our community simply because we care.

Once the Gowanus Canal was nominated to the NPL, we spent a great deal of time advocating for it. We celebrated its listing. We championed your presence in our neighborhood and we listened very carefully to you.

We immediately applied for and became members of the Community Advisory Group and carried back all of the information we received there to our members.

We established a relationship with our EPA "team". We rejoiced in the accessibility and transparency they provided. We grew fond of them and still believe that they represent the finest example of how any government agency and its employees should conduct themselves.

When the ROD was issued, because we were listening carefully, we understood that the only "negotiable" part of the ROD was the inclusion of a containment facility in Red Hook. The Red Hook community said 'NO' and it was dropped.

But, in spite of the fact that EPA often spoke of how they do not get involved in land use--and that only the containment facility was negotiable, the retention tank sitings were suddenly up in the air.

We were certain that common sense, a sense of purpose and fiscal responsibility would prevail. But unfortunately, a grandiose Gowanus 

land-use plan somewhat disguised as a crusade to save a swimming pool that is situated above highly contaminated earth, is going to delay the cleanup by a number of years.  This will cost private property owners their land, businesses their livelihood, many employees their jobs and taxpayers a big hit to their pockets.

Add to the above the most painful cost of all--a recontamination of the expensive Canal cleanup before anyone gets to enjoy the fully realized benefits of this costly and complicated remediation.

We understand that EPA gets an assurance that NYC will not pursue litigation regarding the necessity of the retention tanks. Okay. That is a good thing, we suppose, but it comes at an extremely high price to the community and seems pitifully inequitable.

So, although we understand that the EPA has tried to make a deal with NYC that appeases some folks, eliminates the possibility of (even more) lengthy litigation, and eventually gets the job "sort of" done, we so hoped and believed that "sort of" would never be good enough for our heroes at the EPA.

Finally, we cannot help but wonder what kind of precedent this will set with the other major PRP, National Grid as well as for other future Superfund sites.

We were the first ever Superfund site in NYC.
The plan and subsequent ROD was as big, bold, encompassing and complicated as the Gowanus is contaminated.

The cost analysis was calculated, thoughtful and responsible. 

The rewards were to be enormous- a healthier environment, an urban waterway with drastically reduced toxins AND pathogens surrounded by many acres of open green space along its banks.

We loved it. We believed in it. We counted on it. 

How tragic that this historic project will not be remembered in this way. Instead, it's legacy will be the Superfund site where the EPA did, indeed, get involved in land-use. 

It will be the site where a great deal of taxpayers' monies were spent on a job that was only "sort of" successful. 

The waterway's quasi-clean condition necessitating further remediation post-cleaning and capping will certainly appear wasteful--a black eye to the Superfund program since after all, you were supposed to be the final word. 

And worst of all, the Superfund site where the Record of Decision became the Record of Indecision and Genuflection to Political Pressure brought to us by the Grand Puppeteers--the Development Gods of NYC. 

It is all so terribly disheartening and sad. 

Co-Founders Lucy DeCarlo, Rita Miller, Triada Samaras
CG CORD/Carroll Gardens-Gowanus Coalition for Respectful Development
Cell 917-558-6157


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........