At last night's Bridging Gowanus meeting
Councilman Brad Lander being interviewed
Representatives of a consortium of neighborhood groups voicing their frustration with "Bridging Gowanus",
Joseph Alexiou speaking for several Gowanus community groups to demand a a truly democratic and transparent process.
For the past year, Councilman Brad Lander tried hard to portray 'Bridging Gowanus', a year long process to "build consensus around a neighborhood framework for the infrastructure and land use regulations needed in the Gowanus Canal area" that he is hosting with several other elected officials, as a real chance for community stakeholders to jointly shape a vision for the future of the neighborhood.
In theory, that sounded like a wonderful opportunity.
In reality, the "Bridging Gowanus" community meetings are highly curated affairs, seemingly designed to divide stakeholders at small group tables, making a more inclusionary discussion impossible. In addition, facilitators from Pratt Center for Community Development , which was hired as consultant in charge of running the process and to come up with a final report, stuck to rigid scripts that seemed expressly designed to get specific comments and a pre-determined outcome.
The frustration that has been building from meeting to meeting finally was expressed clearly and loudly last night.
JoAnne Brown, Vice President of Warren Street Houses in Gowanus, stood up and demanded to know what the plan was once the digging for potential new condo development begins. "Once you begin digging, you are going to create a whole lot of fooding around here. We already have a lot of flooding here right now." She also mentioned that residents of Warren Street Houses had to deal with raw sewage in their basement and and gurgling out of their kitchen and bathroom sinks and tubs.
JoAnne Brown, Vice President of Warren Street Houses demanding better infrastructure and oversight.
Below are photos to illustrate JoAnne Browns point. They were taken by another Gowanus Houses resident, who attended the meeting last night.
More frustration with "Briging Gowanus" was expressed to Councilman Brad Lander by Joseph Alexiou, who spoke on behalf of consortium of neighborhood groups.
Alexiou, an author and historian, thanked Lander for bringing together a diverse community and for thriving to foster a conversation about "how those who live and work in Gowanus would like to see our neighborhood developed, preserved, restored, repaired…but we do not believe hat your process is fair and democratic." He continued: "A 'bridging' process that divides us into groups and asks leading questions that heavily favor residential development but never sits down at one table -with no quorum or forum- for discussion cannot claim to represent the true voice of the community."
Alexiou, with the help of members of Friends And Residents Of Greater Gowanus, Voice Of Gowanus and Save Kentile, has organized a "Take Back Gowanus" meeting on July 9th, 2014 at 7pm at the Green Building, 452 Union Street at Bond.
The purpose of the meeting is to continue the discussion of preservation and future of Gowanus, but with "a truly democratic and transparent process" as well as a real collaboration between our community and the City of New York.
The meeting will be open to everyone in the community. Let's all be there and continue this very important conversation.