has featured Community Activist, Linda Mariano's, passing in its recent newsletter:
IN MEMORIAM - LINDA MARIANO
Linda Mariano, a fierce defender of Gowanus, passed away on April 1, 2021.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus by contributing to FROGG online (**be sure to click the box on the VOG donation site indicating your donation is in memory of Linda) or sending a check to:
Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus
c/o M. Donnelly
460 Sackett Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
We also provide here in full the text of Linda Mariano's affidavit in our legal case challenging the use of "virtual" ULURP for the proposed Gowanus rezoning (the judge's order remains in place preventing the city from proceeding):
AFFIDAVIT of LINDA MARIANO
LINDA MARIANO, having been duly sworn, deposes and says:
1. I submit this Affidavit in support of the Petition in this proceeding on behalf of myself and Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (“FROGG”). I am 77 years old and have been a resident of Gowanus, Brooklyn for over 40 years. I am one of the founding members of FROGG, a grassroots community group and non-profit organization in Brooklyn. FROGG’s goals are mainly to support an eco-safe and healthy Gowanus Canal corridor and watershed; protect the industrial heritage of the Gowanus area and support its creative future; and allow community
members to voice their opinions.
2. As I understand the situation, Respondents plan to move forward with their Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP”) application for a massive rezoning plan for the Gowanus area of Brooklyn (“Gowanus Rezoning Plan”) – a plan that I fear would have significant adverse impacts on the Gowanus community as a whole. As my fellow community members and public officials are aware, I have attended a slew of public meeting and hearings over the past four decades, and I am not afraid to speak my mind. However, I am afraid that my voice, and the voices of the Gowanus community as a whole, will be muted by the Respondent Department of City
Planning’s (“DCP”) announcement that it intends to hold on-line only, virtual public hearings (“Virtual Public Hearings”) on the Gowanus Rezoning Plan instead of in-person hearings as required by ULURP. Holding Virtual Public Hearings for a project that has the potential to destroy the Gowanus neighborhood is inappropriate and deprives me and others of our rights under the law.
3. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, in-person meetings were no longer possible
due to social distancing guidelines and many community groups switched to an online format for their meetings (e.g., Zoom). As a result of a health condition, I was suddenly no longer able to
participate in the monthly meetings held by, among others, the Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Group. In the recent past, I suffered a detached retina (ultimately requiring three surgeries so far). My ongoing condition prevents me from watching and participating in a meeting held on a screen. In fact, I am forced to use a magnifying glass for pretty much everything that I read and write. Trying to find the proper buttons to click during a Virtual Public Hearing and
reading anything on a screen is next to impossible for me.
4. Even if I could adequately participate in a Virtual Public Hearing – which I could not – it is absurd that I would not be able to see who else is participating. The online format makes it impossible to know if any given group of people attending the Virtual Public Hearing actually reside in my neighborhood, or if they are a bunch of outsiders, acting as vultures attempting to
attack the Gowanus neighborhood that I love. These things matter when in public meetings, as I
5. Additionally, the internet service in my home is not stable. As such, I fear that I would suddenly lose my connection to the internet causing me to miss some or all of the testimony during the Virtual Public Hearing. Worse, I fear that my connection may drop while I am voicing my opinions regarding the Gowanus Rezoning Plan and that my voice would not be heard. Indeed, I have heard horror stories of internet connectivity issues during Virtual Public Hearings.
6. Finally, I am also concerned about attending a Virtual Public Hearing where I am forced to agree to a private company’s (i.e., Zoom) user agreement and risk having my data compromised in an online privacy breach.
7. In conclusion, if the DCP were to proceed with Virtual Public Hearings for the Gowanus Rezoning Plan, I would be irreparably harmed by the denial of the right to participate in a public process that threatens me and my neighborhood. The DCP cannot proceed with such a huge rezoning plan that would destroy the Gowanus neighborhood with a mere Virtual Public
Hearing; an in-person hearing is absolutely necessary and the City of New York can certainly wait until the COVID-19 pandemic is over to conduct a safe in-person hearing in a public forum where all community members can attend and voice their opinions as permitted by law.
8. For the foregoing reasons, I respectfully request that the Court grant the petition.
January 14th 2021
Voice of Gowanus