State Senator Daniel Squadron
Congressman Jerrold Nadler
State Senator Daniel Squadron's third Community Convention was held at St. Francis College yesterday and once again, attendance by his constituents was impressive, especially for a Sunday afternoon. His district straddles both downtown Manhattan and parts of South Brooklyn, including Carroll Gardens.
In his opening speech, Senator Squadron noted that connecting and sharing ideas with residents from his district at these conventions allows him to understand what to focus on and provides his office guidance for the coming year. "I am grateful that you have volunteered your Sunday afternoon to help me continue to build a better and brighter future for our district" he told the crowd.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, whose Manhattan/Brooklyn district overlaps Squadron's, also attended. In a brief speech, he spoke of this time of turmoil and economic upheaval facing the City and the State.
Councilman Brad Lander attended as well and joined Squadron for the conference's closing remark.
Later, constituents had the opportunity to join discussion groups covering 18 different topics such as MTA issues, health care, social services, jobs, economic sustainability, marriage equality and quality of life.
I chose to attend the discussion group entitled "Neighborhood Preservation and Zoning." Ironically. Most of those in attendance came from Carroll Gardens, though there were a few residents from Chinatown, Dumbo, South Street Seaport and Williamsburg.
However, some of the issues regarding preservation and zoning seem to be universal, including the lack of community involvement in planning the future of our neighborhoods, the unsustainable nature of the current policy of building at all cost, especially in sight of this city's failing infrastructure.
Carroll Gardeners addressed the uncertainty about the 340 Court Street site now that developer Clarett has pulled out of New York. More importantly, the issue of Public Place came up. The site is one of the most polluted sites along the Gowanus. It was once used by Brooklyn Union Gas for coal liquefication. The site has been slated by New York City for development. The Gowanus Green project, as it is ironically named, would bring 770 units of affordable housing to the shores of the Gowanus. Many in the community are sceptical that even after the NYS Department of Environmental Conservancy's remediation, Public Place will ever be safe for human habitation.
The Carroll Gardens residents at the Zoning discussion strongly urged that the plan to re-zone the site from manufacturing to residential be abandoned.
Some risks are not worth taking, especially if that risk involves human health.
Public Place was also brought up at the "Parks and Open Space" discussion group. There, the issue of why the site, which was given to the community by the former Brooklyn Union Gas for "recreational use" through the Parks Department, was transfered without public review to the NYC Housing Development Corporation.