Thursday, April 8, 2021

Voice of Gowanus Memoriam for Linda Mariano


Voice of Gowanus

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.

Linda was a founding member of Voice of Gowanus, a founder of Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (F.R.O.G.G.) and a named individual plaintiff in our lawsuit challenging the Gowanus rezoning.

Tributes to Linda's decades of tenacious advocacy and community engagement have been pouring in - hereherehere, and elsewhere.  Words directly from Linda here, here, and here.

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
know well.

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.

Linda Mariano

January 14th 2021 

Voice of Gowanus
http://www.voiceofgowanus.org/

Carroll Gardens/Gowanus Has Lost An Enormous Community Advocate: Linda Mariano

It is with the greatest sadness that we at CG CORD write of the passing of community advocate and activist, Linda Mariano.  CORD worked alongside with Linda Mariano on various community issues in both Carroll Gardens and Gowanus over the years. We will so much miss her.  Linda's courage to speak truth to power as well as her warmth and zest for life made a deep imprint on us. Linda was a tour de force in our community who worked tirelessly as well as unselfishly on our community's behalf.

Linda Mariano of FROGG and Gowanus Landmarking Coalition
Gowanus' very own Jane Jacobs 2019 courtesy PMFA

Katia Kelly of the PMFA blog writes:

"Most neighborhood residents might remember her from Yesterday's News, the Court Street vintage store, where she worked on week-ends for many years."

"Linda moved to Gowanus with her husband Joseph Mariano and daughter Rachel over 40 years ago from Manhattan. They bought a dilapidated house on President Street in the 1970's, which they lovingly restored into a welcoming home. They displayed a black and white photo of what the building had looked like when they first laid eyes on it, as a reminder of how they had saved this piece of neighborhood history.  In the spring, Linda would plant her window boxes with the brightest fuchsia geraniums, making the house the prettiest on the block."

"Linda was one of the founding members of Friends Of Greater Gowanus (F.R.O.G.G.), a group that was founded in 2002 to safe the Green Building on Union Street near the canal when the old brick building was slated for demolition to make way for a high rise."

"Together with F.R.O.G.G., Linda became a very vocal supporter of the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund designation of the Gowanus Canal and was a founding member of the Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Group after the designation in 2010."

"However, as passionate as she was about the environment, it was preservation of the neighborhood that was always her main focus. She tirelessly worked with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the Historic Districts Council (HDC), and the NYS Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), to pursue historic designation of the Gowanus Corridor as an Urban Industrial District."

"In 2019, because of her perseverance, five important Gowanus buildings were landmarked by New York City.  But of course, she wanted to save many more. It comes at no surprise that she vehemently opposed the massive rezoning for Gowanus which is currently being discussed" LINK

Katia Kelly also writes these poignant words:

"To have known Linda will forever be one of the greatest privileges of my life. She could brighten the cloudiest day with her huge smile and laugh. She was a fearless activist, and passionate advocate for Gowanus. She always spoke truth to power and taught many that one never gives up fighting for what is right.  Over the years, she became a mentor to many of us and we all aspired to become just like her. She was fiercely loyal to her friends and her house was always open for a glass of wine, some food and stimulating discussions." LINK

We agree with her and can affirm that Linda Mariano was an inspiration to us as well. Her presence was a reminder of what a truly community-engaged citizen looks like.  And what one civic-minded community member role model can do for others in the community.

We at CORD feel we should remember Linda Mariano and honor the enormous contribution she made to this community.

CG CORD



Wednesday, March 24, 2021

CAG Resolution Resolved March 23, 2021

 

The following CAG resolution requests formal consideration by the indicated parties to conduct activities related to the Gowanus Canal Cleanup with regard to the concerns and interests of the Gowanus community.

TITLEPublic Place Remediation

TO: Walter Mugdan, Acting Regional Administrator, USEPA Region 2
John Prince, Deputy Director, USEPA Region 2
Pat Evangelista, Director of Superfund & Emergency Mgmt Division, USEPA Region 2 Javier Laureano, Division Director Clean Water Division, USEPA Region 2

DATE: March 23, 2021 Resolved:

Due to the recent announcement by the NYSDEC of changes to its remediation plan for Public Place, we ask EPA to review and comment on the changes and make a determination as to the effectiveness of such proposed changes in preventing the remaining Public Place site contamination from continuing to contaminate the Gowanus Canal and the surrounding neighborhood. The Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) strongly recommends that any clean up of Public Place prioritize the health and safety of the area’s present and future residents and aquatic life in the Gowanus Canal.

Be it further Resolved:
Since Public Place was and continues to be a major source of contamination to the Gowanus Canal and the surrounding neighborhood, The Gowanus Canal Advisory Group (CAG), requests that the EPA use its technical expertise to advise the CAG in writing if the current plan for the Public Place remediation put forth by the NYSDEC will meet the current and future needs of the community under the Record of Decision and adheres to the rules set forth within the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

Cc: Christos Tsiamis, Senior Project Manager, USEPA Region 2 Brian Carr, Legal Council, USEPA Region 2
Natalie Loney, Gowanus Canal CIC, USEPA Region 2 Congresswomen Nydia Velazquez

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon

Please direct responses and inquiries to both gowanuscag@gmail.com and doug@forumfg.com

The Gowanus Canal Superfund: So Where Are We?

               The Gowanus Canal Superfund: So Where Are We?


On Tuesday, March 23, the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) met for their monthly meeting.

Our terrific EPA Team members, Project Manager Christos Tsiamis, Attorney Brian Carr and Community Liaison Natalie Loney were there to offer an update on progress. Also a warm welcome to a new member of the Legal Team, Walter Sainsbury.

Highlights included:

-the dredging of the Canal is ongoing and proceeding well. Phases One and Two north of the Carroll Street bridge are complete and getting prepared for the In Situ Stabilization (ISS) - the initial (cement) layer of capping which will begin sometime in late Summer 2021.

-Phase One dredging south of the Carroll Street bridge has been completed. Phase Two to begin this week running till approximately mid April.

-some support work around and beneath the bridges will also be taking place in the coming months.

-clarification regarding the task and purview of the EPA included confirmation that the Superfund site is NOT confined between the bulkheads of the Canal but includes the protection of the remedy and prevention of future contamination to the Canal, therefore making sites that have historically contributed to contamination as well as any that could possibly contribute to future contamination within their purview.

-confirmation that although the rezoning of the area is not part of EPA's purview, as detailed in the former Regional Director Peter Lopez's letter to New York State DEC, the rezoning must NOT negatively impact the remedy. So developments abutting the canal will be held to EPA criteria (i.e. discharges) so as not to negatively impact that remedy.

-the EPA will also be looking at the mandatory Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which must accompany the Gowanus rezoning proposal as a broad standard. At this point, actual data is very limited but EPA will be looking at each of the expected developments individually in regard to possible impact. The EPA will be commenting on the EIS. The Agency is not assisting in the drafting of this document.

-it was reported that information regarding the ROD mandated CSO tanks would be coming at a future meeting

-the EPA assures us that the EPA and NY State's DEC will be working in the interest and safety of everyone regarding any development of the highly contaminated Public Place site to make it safe for the public.

-Christos, who gave a detailed synopsis of conditions on Public Place in regard to the proposed Gowanus Green residential development plan back in December neither retracted any of his previous statements nor did he have any additional data to report on about the site. 

Our neighborhood has been and continues to be very fortunate to have this EPA team working on this project. They have been from the onset, honest, open and willing to share any and all relevant information about this cleanup with us. There have been no surprises sprung on us from this team, no double talk and no hidden actions. This team has consistently done what they have said they were going to do - all performed in a professional manner . They even managed to engage this community in a heartfelt manner. That is not something that most bureaucratic, government required community groups receive. 

CORD sincerely doubts that the Federal, State or City governments care what our CAG or our community thinks or feels. But we believe that this EPA team has been and continues to be extraordinary and committed not only to their task but to our neighborhood.

The CAG, through resolution, LINK , because this Team has earned and maintained our trust,  has once again called upon the EPA to continue their watch over the Public Place brownfield cleanup - which has been downgraded since the original plan was presented - even though the proposed Gowanus Green plan, as far as we are aware, has more or less remained the same. We understand that the EPA indicated that it is actively participating in the assessment of what must be done. That is a relief to us all.

During the discussion of Public Place, a DEC employee by the name of Janet Brown was called upon by our Facilitator to comment. Usually, when guest attendees, even those representing some of the agencies involved are present, the responses from them are normally some variation on the,"...we will have to get back to you on that..." variety. But Ms Brown was surprisingly well prepared and energetically willing to spread the information that residential developments can be safely done on former MGP sites, "...if exposure routes and paths are mitigated...". She pointed to a former contaminated Con Ed site on the west side as a successful cleanup.

When asked if former MGP sites and/or redevelopments of such were categorized by contamination levels and if we were getting the cleanup the neighborhood (and the proposed future residents on the site) deserve, Ms Brown replied once again that the coal tar lying at varying depths up to 150 feet beneath the ground, can provide a safe place to live "as long as exposure routes and paths are mitigated."

Ms Brown indicated that she was apparently sent to the CAG meeting to correct some "misinformation from the December CAG meeting.." We are not exactly sure how leaving the bulk of the toxic chemicals beneath the ground assists in providing the proper mitigation to route and path exposure - especially when many, many very deeply drilled pilings are being driven into that very ground, nor how situating the school closest to the wells is smart design, nor how reducing the ability to contain any gravitational coal tar seepage into the canal by removing the previously planned and discussed "wings" which were to be situated, we believe at about 100 feet each on either side of the site from the water going towards Smith Street makes sense, but that must be for another DEC expert at another time.  Since she did not clarify any of these concerns, which misinformation she was referring to is rather a mystery.

Overall, an information packed meeting. Great progress on the Canal's planned clean and capping. Once again, our EPA Team proves that approaching a problem, drawing up a plan and working toward its accomplishment is not only possible - it's happening! 

Unfortunately, the State and City of New York still seem to be relying on the old talk big, do as little as possible, and most importantly, keep kicking the problems can down the road approach. Again.

CG CORD




Monday, March 22, 2021

Voice of Gowanus Release New Baselines for Just and Sustainable Development in Gowanus!


Exciting news from PMFA today:

"Today, members of Voice Of Gowanus gathered next to the Public Place site on 5th Street at Hoyt Street to release their new Environmental Baselines for Just and Sustainable Development in Gowanus. The location was significant since Public Place is a polluted former manufactured gas plant site, which has been proposed for housing under the Gowanus rezoning

From a press release by VoG: 

The group was unequivocal: Before any proposed rezoning in Gowanus may proceed,  five baselines for environmental and human health must be met.  The baselines are built upon new legal and environmental expert analysis commissioned by VOG.

The coalition also demanded that FEMA and the EPA be full co-lead agencies in preparing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Gowanus rezoning given the neighborhood's notorious flooding, sewage, and toxicity problems.  Any EIS without EPA and FEMA as co-lead agencies is insufficient and invalid.

Voice of Gowanus and a panel of experts will further review the health and environmental issues that must be addressed prior to any rezoning at its Fight for Gowanus: Townhall Panel Discussion on March 24 at 6:30 pm (full details and registration here).

Click here for full Baselines Document"

Taken From:

 https://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2021/03/voice-of-gowanus-releases-new.html

A Panel Discussion Critical for the Future of the Gowanus Brooklyn Community!

Please see this vital post by well-known community blogger, Katia, Kelly, and register for this critical panel discussion for the Gowanus Brooklyn Community!

The proposed 80 block Gowanus Rezoning is the most consequential issue in our community in the past thirty years. Yet the City of New York seems to be ignoring the many serious environmental issues in Gowanus, as well as trying to restrict local residents' access to a fair and legal Uniform Land Use Review Process.

If you would like to know more about the rezoning and the issues, please join the event below, hosted by Voice of Gowanus.
Read on to learn more, and register for what should be a very informative evening.


Fight for Gowanus: Protecting Community Health and Safety from a Massive Rezoning




A Panel Discussion with Zoning and Environmental Experts hosted by Voice of Gowanus

Wednesday March 24, 2021 6:30 pm




For more info :

https://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2021/03/fight-for-gowanus-protecting-community.html



Tuesday, March 2, 2021

From PMFA: NY State DEC can not be trusted to supervise National Grid's Clean-Up at Public Place

Katia Kelly at PMFA is making the excellent point that NY State DEC can not be trusted to supervise National Grid's Clean-Up at Public Place.

See:

False Claims and Questionable Oversight: Why NY State DEC can not be trusted to supervise National Grid's Clean-Up at Public Place.  https://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2021/03/false-claims-and-questionable-oversight.html

From this thoroughly researched article:

"Finally, after decades of exposing local residents to this toxicity, the site is currently being remediated by National Grid under the supervision of New York State's Department Of Environmental Conservation through the state's Brownfield program.

However, the remediation can hardly be called a clean-up. It would be more appropriate to call it a containment, since most of the coal tar will forever remain deep in the native soil.ƒ

Just recently, the Carroll Gardens/ Gowanus community learned that DEC had allowed National Grid to significantly alter and degrade the remediation, sparking concerns that future residents would be exposed to the remaining contamination.

At a December 2020, Gowanus Superfund Community Advisory Committee meeting, members addressed this issue and proposed a resolution asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and comment on DEC's changes to the remediation of Public Place. The resolution passed overwhelmingly." PMFA

We at CG CORD are extremely concerned at these troubling new developments. To us they are woefully inadequate clean-up measures for this highly contaminated site slated for residential development.

"When it comes to the environmental clean-up of our community after more than a century and a half of exposure to carcinogens, we need to make sure that it is done to the highest remediation standards we are entitled to by law.

It seems, by its actions and false claims, New York State intends to be more protective of National Grid, the polluter, than of the interests of local residents.

The State agency has not only allowed National Grid to reduce the level of remediation on Public Place, it has also covered up the fact that it helped remove some key aspects of the clean-up such as a vapor barrier and wing walls, specifically put in place to reduce the likelihood that coal tar will migrate out of the site.

NYS DEC is trying to rewrite its own documented history and is playing politics when it asks for Christos Tsiamis of EPA to retract his statements.  It is displaying contempt for public safety when it disparaged his concerns about the remediation.

Facts and science are the only things that should matter when it comes to public health." PMFA

We could not agree more that facts and science are the ONLY things that should matter when it comes to public health.  NYS DEC is, indeed trying to re-write its own documented history and is unfortunately playing nasty politics when it comes to Christos Tsiamis.  Mr. Tsiamis should not be used as a scape-goat with which to ignore the truth of Public Place, a truth NYS DEC itself has proclaimed. This unfortunate and transparent maneuver only makes it that much more obvious that NYS DEC can not be trusted in this matter to do what's right for us as the "public".  We demand better!

CG CORD


CORD HISTORY:

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........

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?crlgrdns