Friday, January 09, 2009

Carroll Gardener's Statement To City Planning Regarding Toll Brothers' Gowanus Project

Toll Brothers Site

Carroll Gardener Kevin Duffy-Acevedo was unable to attend Wednesday's Planning Commission's Hearing regarding Toll Brothers' Gowanus development, but he sent in his statement. He allowed me to post it here for everyone to read. I found his arguments compelling and well reasoned. He would like to encourage everyone to send in their own testimony. You will find the address at the end of this post.

Re: Hearing 363-365 Bond Street (Toll Bros.), City Planning Commission

Statement of Kevin Duffy-Acevedo,

Resident of Carroll Gardens

I am a resident and a father of three children residing in Carroll Gardens approximately one block from the Gowanus Canal and over the course of the last year have witnessed the serious imbalance between the concerns of my community and the interests of local officials.

Let's be clear, development is not the issue. The issue is safety.

Broadly, community development is based on mutual respect between residents and government. Observing the proposed Toll Brother development on the Gowanus this year has been a betrayal of our safety. We all have access to the reports: DEC, Columbia University, Army Corps of Engineers, and FEMA. They all echo similar dangerous warnings.

I suppose my greatest disappointment is not that my elected representative have turned a blind eye to my family's safety, but that they have decided to seek the short term gains at the expense of those vested in my neighborhood.

Recent examples show us how leadership has failed public trust: FNMA, Freddie Mac were seized by U.S. government, Citibank receives $45 billion bailout from U.S. Treasury, and finally venerable investment advisor firm, Bernard Madoff, dupes public and charities over $50 billion.

I hope our elected representatives are not cast among these pariahs in the future. The public has shown no pardon in these instances. This statement will serve, in part, as record of this public risk.

There are over 50 LETHAL pathogens in the canal which are contained by a natural state of remediation. Any disturbance will elevate the levels of toxicity and risk of exposure to nearby residents (including my family, friends and neighbors). More disconcerting is the risk of potential tidal surges that will spill the waters of the Gowanus into our adjoining communities. Gowanus is currently designated by FEMA as a "flood zone." Until there is a comprehensive government or private cleanup, natural remediation is and has been the most effective alternative.

The primary question is, "who will take responsibility for this risk when it happens?"

ANY proposed development should take second consideration to these cleanup requirements.

I encourage HPD to take strong measures to protect our communities and insist upon a thorough remediation prior to development around the Gowanus canal. Notwithstanding this precondition, I firmly propose HPD include a provision of accountability. Clear thresholds for safety should be incorporated; and once these thresholds are violated, defined participants should be required to correct or mitigate and return safety to the effected community area.

Inclusive to this provision should require financial guarantees for unexpected environmental hazards as a result of ANY proposed developments.

No zoning changes should be permitted until the Gowanus Canal and surrounding areas are cleaned up to standards that protect the health of the public and allow the broadest variety of activities to take place on and around the Canal. Public health and safety should be your greatest priority. Granting us open space and parks should be second or at least near the top.

I encourage you to refer to This petition offers wide public commentary offering perspectives by many concerned local residents who vote actively on behalf of their community.


Kevin Duffy-Acevedo

If you wish to voice your own opinion on the Toll Brothers' Gowanus Development, your can send your comment before January 17, 2009 to:

If you care to send any statement, however brief, please send to:

Amanda Burden
Chairperson, NY City Planning
22 Reade Street
New York, New York 10007

You can reference the following in your statement:

Re: Toll Brothers, 363-365 Bond Street, Brooklyn

CEQR No. 08DCP033K
ULURP Nos. 090047 ZMK, 090048 ZSK,
N090049 ZRY, N090050 ZRY,
N09001 ZRY
NYC Department of City Planning

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kevin!