Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hey, Mayor Bloomberg! Remind Us Again Why We Should Allow New Buildings In A Flood Zone

Screen shot 2011-08-28 at 1.03.44 PM
(photo above courtesy of Hudson Companies' Inc.)
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Simp pump under the front entrance of Third and Bond
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A smaller hose coming out of the front door of the building

After Hurricane (Tropical Storm) Irene, some serious basement pumping is going on over at Third And Bond, Hudson Companies' Inc new condo building. It was built right in a flood zone, one block away from the Gowanus Canal.

One has to feel bad for those new owners. This will be an ongoing problem for them. Hudson Companies probably don't advertise that little fact in their shiny brochure.

After Irene, one can only hope that Mayor Bloomberg has a better understanding of why it's folly to build more housing in flood zones.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe this is a sub pump doing its job, taking water from sitting under the building. I would rather that than no draining at all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pictures Katia, but they're not making me homesick for Brooklyn right now. Kinda of glad we missed this storm. See you soon E & J

Katia said...

Well, E and J, it would have been a lot funner with you here. We started drinking gin and tonics by 5 PM. there was really nothing else to do.

Anonymous said...

So you object to residential housing, but not manufacturing, close to the canal? It is better to have industry, business and the arts interrupted by temporary flooding than to have the ground floor of a newly constructed building?

Your comments are confusing me. There should be no new buildings constructed in any flood zones? Or only a moratorium on luxury buildings, as your post on the canal seems to indicate? It is ok for regular housing to flood, but not "luxury" housing?

Katia said...

Scientists have warned us of climate changes and sea level rise. We were lucky this time that Irene deteriorated into a tropical storm. Flood maps show us what would happen in Red Hook, Carroll Gardens and Gowanus if we were ever to face a level 2 or 3 hurricane. Yes, they are rare, but storms are getting more intense and reaching this city.
My point is that the city has a responsibility to the residents and business owners who are currently located in flood areas like the Gowanus. Let's get the city to fix the Bond Street Sewer, separate waste water from storm water so that shit doesn't get dumped into the canal after every rain event and build retention basins.
Before the City takes care of these basics, they have no business bringing more residents to flood zones A and B.
I mentioned luxury condos since that is what the Gowanus is targeted for. Remember Toll Brothers?
But you are right, we shouldn't put the elderly, low income nor middle income families in harm's way either.

Anonymous said...

So again, it is ok to put manufacturing workers, artists and small scale industrial shops in harms way, but not rich people?

Your stance in confusing, because you object to construction of "luxury housing" in Gowanus, but yet there many units of housing in more flood prone areas of the city, and Gowanus is flush with many great non-residential uses.

Either object to ANY type of construction in ANY FEMA designated AE, VE or X flood zones (a valid complaint, to some, but not one I believe you are making), or stop complaining that people want to build housing by the Gowanus (luxury or otherwise).

You can't have it both ways.

Katia said...

I just don't think we should allow more building in flood zones like the Gowanus without the proper infrastructure and the proper safeguards for residents or business owners.

maria said...

Dear Katia:

NOTHING should be developed down close to the canal period! I feel sorry for the unsuspecting buyers.Perhaps we can hope some grass and sponges can live there. That's it. You already showed pics of the Zone A properties geting flooded with the toxic soup that is the contaminated Canal Water. And, I saw them using that contraption yesterday even before the storm happened at Third and Bond building. And flooded Third Street our Hurricane Escape route (!) for goodness sakes. We do not need another kind of Katrina situation here.

Putting residents or anything else down there strains an already overburdened sewar system that will get much worse as Atlantic Yards develops. Do we all want live sewage in our homes every time we have a big storm? Development in a floodzone especially along a superfund site is the most irresponsible idea ever. BUYERS BEWARE!!

Anonymous said...

Ok, so your complaint it with the City for permitting ANY construction of ANY buildings in any areas that might flood from the canal, not with the "luxury housing" builders?

If so, your prior comments are misleading and a little inflammatory.

Katia said...

Why the aggressiveness? I blame the City, yes, but also the builders who sell condos, knowing that the new owners will have to deal with flooding.
Now that's misleading...

Anonymous said...

Well, since the conversation has turned to the Gowanus Canal Super Fund Site let’s discuss the real heart of the issue. Buildings are not the heart of the issue. In 2006 the Army Corp of Engineers published their Environment Sediment Report on the Gowanus Canal. Numerous pages of this report document the long list of toxins that are carcinogens and chemicals that have long-term direr health consequences. Yet, no assessment report has been conducted on the health of the residents. These hazardous materials have quietly been altering the quality of life of the children, the adults, and the pets for decades. I, and many other transnational environmentalist, have been following your story and we urge the residents of Brooklyn to demand that a New York State AND Federal Health Assess be officially conducted in The Brooklyn Community, immediately. Before a firm decision can be made about the use of the land, it is absolutely essential that this health information be known. Unless, of course, it has been deemed best that the residents do not understand what is fundamentally at stake. The EPA has provided an opportunity to begin the climb back to heath for this ill treated waterway and land. Residents of Brooklyn, you deserve the same treatment. Slow this rush to build.

Katia said...

Couldn't agree more. We have come a long way here in the community, from fighting our Mayor, who actively lobbied against the EPA's Superfund designation of the Gowanus, to being active participants of the Superfund Community Advisory group.
We continue to be our own best advocates and we need to push even harder to have a say in the Gowanus' future.
A health study would be a logical step.

Anonymous said...

Gowanus is presently zoned for manufacture/commercial. Residential development is much denser than commercial, manufacture use. Residential zoning is also more profitable for land holders. (Maybe they got the land thinking it would be rezoned). I recall seeing renderings for Gowanus Village !, and for Toll Brothers. No way would commercial/manufacture have THAT many number of units/population. Can you imagine how many more people would have needed to evacuate this weekend? And the City and developers never wanted to acknowledge the reality of the hurricane zone, flood zone. If you want this economy to come back, we have to support the kind of zoning Gowanus currently has. There is a great need for it.

BrooklynMF said...

To the anonymous barking about housing versus manufacturing and claiming "inflamatory," do you hear yourself? This is a true "pot calling the kettle black." The point here is that there were years of issues about the risks around the Gowanus for local businesses and then for the artists etc. Complaints were ignored and that was bad enough, but then when the Mayor started supported building massive housing structure for hundreds of families living full time overlooking the Canal like "River Walk," it was an escalation of the danger from dozens to thousands. When the mayor fought the EPA Superfund--the potential solution to a century's danger,--it became clear that he only cared about helping business leaders not the people. This seemed to be obviously Katia's point, Picking fights with her seemed a desperate plea to call anyone uncaring or... I don't know, just to be "misleading" about her comment.

Katia said...

Thanks, Brooklyn MF, for understanding the point.

maria said...

I totally agree with this and have endured this toxic canal for years with my neighbors.

"These hazardous materials have quietly been altering the quality of life of the children, the adults, and the pets for decades. I, and many other transnational environmentalist, have been following your story and we urge the residents of Brooklyn to demand that a New York State AND Federal Health Assess be officially conducted in The Brooklyn Community, immediately. Before a firm decision can be made about the use of the land, it is absolutely essential that this health information be known."

Where is the thyroid cancer study we need? Why has all this been known for years and been pushed aside by our government officials?

Where is sanity? Now there is talk of even putting thousands MORE people in harm's way? Insanity. Lets do a health risks assessment FIRST. Before the city gets buried in lawsuits over health impacts.

Anonymous said...

The point is not that I am inflammatory; the point is that Katia is baiting to her cohort by complaining about "luxury housing" being promoted on the canal.

Complaining about density and height of housing is a valid concern; so is complaining about lack of infrastructure and the City's sad attempts to keep Superfund out. I'm even saying that it is valid to say that no buildings should be built in flood zones, or they should be raised above the flood plain.

But by combining the three issues, you're intentionally (or unintentionally) obfuscating them all into one giant mush of misdirected criticism.

T said...

Anonymous said:
Katia is not baiting anyone but you are obviously on a mission. The issue is building on the Canal; the title says so. Third and Bond was pumping. Zero surprie in that. Give it a rest.

Anonymous said...

How is the issue building on the canal? New or old, condos or industrial, we were all pumping!

New AND old owners know the risks.

Anonymous said...

If there are known risks, and people already know about them, then why would anyone want to build more luxury condos in a toxic flood zone anyhow? These buildings need to go on higher safer ground.

Boerum Hill Jo said...

To Anonymous 4:50 p.m. et al

Katia never called it luxury anything in the original post. Nor did she mention ANYTHING about manufacturing or existing housing - yet you come out on the attack, as if she had.

Your second post is equally confusing. You put "luxury housing" in quotes when responding to her, yet she never said that.

In her next (patient and lengthy) response, she ends with

"But you are right, we shouldn't put the elderly, low income nor middle income families in harm's way either."

To which you respond:

"So again, it is ok to put manufacturing workers, artists and small scale industrial shops in harms way, but not rich people?"

You're not very good at staying on point. You came here with an agenda and have virtually ignored every point Katia or others have raised.

Good day, Mr. Troll.

Katia said...

Hi Boerum Hill Jo,
Thanks for pointing this out to Anonymous. He/She obviously has a bone to pick, no matter what I say or write.

Anonymous said...

No trolling here; I'm just seekin to clarify a point; that is, if one feels it is unsafe or unwise to construct luxury housing on the shores of the Gowanus, then one must also feel it is unsafe to build ANY building on the Gowanus. If that is the point that Katia is trying to make, it is undermined when it is framed ONLY in the context of Third and Bond or Toll Brothers, as she has done.

In the multiple posts on the Gowanus flooding, not once did she mention Proteus Gowanus flooding, or the food truck paking lot flooding or question why the new bar on Carroll chose to open. She had a picture of the Yard's owner, but never questioned the wisdom of holding events and public parties there. The ONLY development questioned was condo/luxury housing. Nothing else was mentioned.

That framing of concern undermines an otherwise valid concern.

And she did say "luxury housing" in a previous post with high-tide pictures, although, not this one.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:35am,
Your point, such as it is, has been clarified. To pretend Katia has not addressed your questions is to be disingenuous to the point of unbelievability. That is trolling.

Anonymous said...

Addressed them how exactly?

Her only two responses were "I just don't think we should allow more building in flood zones like the Gowanus without the proper infrastructure and the proper safeguards for residents or business owners." (actual quote)

and

"Blame the condo sellers for buyers' willingness to take a chance" (paraphrased)

But only the latter is the subject of her two posts (this and the flooding pictures), and the former ignores the fact that buildings have been built in flood zones, will continue to be, and can safely be.

Maybe it is my background as a FEMA Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), but the original post still wraps her issues (anti high/dense residential/condo development) with complex flood zone, insurance and environmental issues, and I have yet to see her write a post calling for a total moratorium on construction in Gowanus, or other areas of the city that got hit much worse (Tottenville, Hugenot, College Point, Gerritsen Beach, etc...), and I doubt that we will see such a post.

We will instead be reminded that Toll Brothers wanted to build a build on a site that was partially underwater for a few hours.

My objection to this is not that it is incorrect (the facts are obvious, and they are correct!), but that it is not constructive and offers no solutions to any of the issues (hers or flood zone/infrastructure) raised.

Anonymous said...

When the developer was asked about the pumping, here's what they said: "We were pumping from our detention tank as a precautionary measure. We were concerned that if the City's system became overburdened during the hurricane that we would have a difficult time emptying the detention tank per usual methods and would rather have another outlet leading away from the property. (The detention tank was installed as required by the Department of Environmental Protection and its purpose is to slow down the release into the City sewer of storm water collected on the property. They are very, very common for new buildings in all parts of the City.) We did have some water in some mechanical rooms from the severe rain but no major damage."

Anonymous said...

Might I just interject that Third & Bond is NOT a "luxury" building, regardless of what David Kramer might lead you to believe, or what the residents delude themselves into believing. The pictures speak for themselves. I question whether a luxury building even exists in Brooklyn. (I'm guessing our concepts of luxury, not to mention value, are miles apart.) There's a great picture floating around (forgive the pun) of what it looked like outside that other "luxury" condo 1 Main in Dumbo. Do these units come with snorkels and canoes?

On another note, I have zero sympathy for the people in these condos. They should have done due diligence. They clearly didn't or did and didn't care.

Anonymous, Too

Rob said...

Why does Anonymous keep repeating "luxury" housing when the original post says nothing about the type of housing, only that it's new? In fact the word luxury is never mentioned nor even hinted at. I'd also add that Third and Bond, while new, is not a luxury building. It's units are not selling at a price any higher than those in an older building like The Mill on president St. A luxury Luxury is Toren or Oro in Downtown Brooklyn.

Secondly, this is criticizing NEW development in general on the canal, not the stuff there's been there for decades. The only point made was perhaps the drainage and toxic waste issues should be fixed before more buildings are built down there. The only new stuff that's gone in there is residential. They're not building new manufacturing plants down there. The city's plan is to turn the area into a residential buildings and get rid of the manufacturing. It's clear from the pictures and when I myself walked by there in Sunday they seem to have had the worst of the flooding problems.

Anonymous said...

The luxury housing comment was made on the prior post, which is related.

The point is not to criticize new construction, but to point out that new construction on the canal will actually be SAFER than the existing development.

And who cares if the city wants housing ("luxury housing") or other types of development? If the problem exists, it exists, regardless of the use. Mitigation and cleanup standards are greater for residential development for a reason!