Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Unusual Twists And Turns In The Gowanus Canal Saga: Buddy Scotto's Media Blitz



The waters of the Gowanus Canal with raw sewage and garbage


Buddy Scotto:

"There's no question the canal is clean enough now to support development"
(NY Post)

The saga of the Gowanus Canal has more twists and turns than its one and a half mile shoreline. Just last week, the EPA proposed to add the heavily polluted canal to its Superfund National Priority list, which would funnel federal money towards a clean-up.

That would seem like great news to a man who, for decades, worked hard to get the Gowanus Canal cleaned up. But that does not seem to be the case.

Buddy Scotto, long time Carroll Gardens activist and business owner, and founder of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation has advocated for decades for a cleaner canal. However, these days, he seems to be more concerned with any delay to development along the canal, especially the Toll Brothers.
The national developer recently secured a spot-rezoning for a two block area along the canal from manufacturing to residential. This is in advance of a New York City Planning rezoning for the entire canal area.
Mr. Scotto is an outspoken backer of the Toll Brothers Project.

Mr. Scotto always poo pooed skeptics who argued that the canal should be cleaned thoroughly before housing is built on its shores. He stuck to his "if more people move in, it will be cleaned" approach. Now that the canal may actually get the thorough remediation it needs, Scotto is complaining to the media that placing the Gowanus on the Superfund list would delay development.

As one area resident remarked on Mr. Scotto's quotes in the news:
"Just because credible builders are interested in investing along the Gowanus, doesn't mean that the canal's pollution issues don't need to be addressed and cleaned up. He goes on and on about finding typhoid germs, etc., in the canal, and now he doesn't want it cleaned up. Go figure."

Lately, all emphasis has been on development with only vague assurances that clean up would come later. Now we may finally have a definite commitment to the clean up which should logically come first. We will find out how this will work and how long it will take and a decision will be made on scientific grounds. This has to be good for the community and city. Who would seriously oppose concrete plans for a clean up ? Who wouldn't prefer to live next to a clean canal rather than a polluted one ? Who really believes that a clean up wouldn't make the whole area more valuable ? Haven't we had enough "fast buck" problems ?

Buddy Scotto as quoted in the media last week:

"This is going to stand in the way of so many developments. The designation might scare off all of these private developers.( The Brooklyn Paper)

"There are political people who, for their own reasons, don't want development to happen on the Gowanus Canal" ( Daily News)

“We want to make sure they’re not precluded from building. Can the government work with the private sector? This has to be worked out.” ( The New York Times)

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Anonymous said...

Developers should be scared off because this is not the right time to build. Would Buddy Scotto want his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live in a place that is destined to be a cancer cluster? Mercury, lead, and arsenic are not good baby vitamins. I am not against developing the Gowanas, want it cleaned up first before well planned mixed-use development begins. The shit hitting the fan/canal photos were perfect timing and illustrate what so many people have said over and over: the Gowanus is sick and must be healed before anything is built. Designating the Gowanus as a Superfund site would be a good start.

RE the Buddy Scotto quotes "There are political people who, for their own reasons, don't want development to happen on the Gowanus Canal" and "There's no question the canal is clean enough now to support development". What is the motivation, will he personally make money with Gowanus development or is this just a pathetic attempt to hold onto supposed power or stature? It's foolish and harmful.

Spot rezoning the site is ridiculous and this whole process is suspect. Backroom deals have to stop. Some public officials have shown integrity and I applaud Queens council member Tony Avella's actions during the Toll spot rezoning hearing. Good riddance to Bill DeBlasio! Hope that lots of people attend the candidates forum on April 25th.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I would think that this would make Buddy very happy. Isn't this what he has been fighting for? Unless I missed something, I never heard the Toll Brothers mention anything about cleaning the canal. What I heard was that once people were living on the banks that would create political pressure to secure funding. Well guess what. There are many people who live very close to the canal who have also been advocating for a clean up prior to development. Now it looks like money is finally available to do the job and do it right. Given these latest and most welcome developments, I think that Buddy might have a little egg on his face when it comes to Toll Brothers and David Vonspeckwhatever. People have been complaining about the canal's condition for over a hundred years and the story is always the same: lack of funding. Now it looks like the money is there to do a proper clean up so what is a few more years. Thank you Congresswoman Valezquez.

Lisanne said...

I feel like this is divine intervention. It is just plain wrong to build on toxic land before cleaning it up, the Toll's and other developers would be the only one profiting and in this economy and climate it's unbelievable that they are still gung ho about it.

As far as people worrying about their property values going down, try and think about the future and how it can only be beneficial.

Anonymous said...

Toll Brothers backed out of the deal, which is kind of weird considering part of their plan included clean up. Now the clean up would have some funding behind it and they jump ship. It goes to show you that nobody cares about anything except the mighty dollar. Now what? I guess the spot zoning is going to halt the rezoning to the canals neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Buddy claims that he wants to bring the residential development to the canal because he states that by placing more people along the canal this would result in more citizens calling on their government to cleanup the water. But now the highest level of government is offering to cleanup the water, before additional people move into the area, and Buddy wants to stop this cleanup?

The only conclusion to draw from this is that Buddy was just using a "call to clean the water" as a ploy since cleaning the water is such a popular goal of the community and New Yorker's in general. He will NEVER again be seen as one interested in the quality of water or the quality of life along this canal!

Carroll Gardener said...

I applaud Pardon Me For Asking's, Katia, for her enduring vigilance and concern for the community's safety. Despite our appeals to the major newspapers, Katia has become the public eye and siren for these issues.

thank you for all you do.

Anonymous said...

Isn't his daughter a private developer in the area? I smell something toxic!!! ;-)

Anonymous said...

This IS divine intervention for the Gowanus. It is interesting, and sickening, to me, to see how Scotto, Toll Bros., Bob Zuckerman are now singing a different tune - that putting the Gowanus on the Superfund list to get cleaned up may actually GET IN THE WAY of THEIR plans to clean up the canal!!! They would like to have us think that they really have the best interest of the community at heart. They NEVER did -They are all about MONEY, lots of it, and for that reason, I don't see them giving up easily. Already I hear about scare tactics being put into the community about property values going down if the Gowanus becomes a Superfund site.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Buddy's daughter is a private developer and I believe one of his sons is also involved in real estate.
What plans do Scotto, Toll, Zuckerman have to clean up the canal beyond wishful thinking that once the banks of the canal are occupied by luxury condo owners they will put politcal pressure on the electeds to clean it?
In the past, Nydia Velazquez has been very effective in getting federal funding for the GCCDC. Where has that money gone? Maybe one of the revenue streams for the GCCDC will dry up of the canal is a superfund site.

Anonymous said...

Just what are the GCCDC plans for cleaning the canal?

The DEP plans will help in some way, but that step doesn't get the canal clean or why else would the EPA have proposed this action--the EPA is fully aware of the current DEP and DEC Gowanus actions yet EPA must see a need to do more.

Anonymous said...

Ah, how interesting to see one's true colors revealed in the face of actual cleanup.

Divine intervention indeed! I'll be at the meeting tomorrow night, cheering the EPA on...

Anonymous said...

After reading all the coverage, its a touch depressing how unorganized the opposition is. There are the dredgers who want to be able to canoe during the cleanup, some pols who wonder what will happen to the flushing tunnel money, the folks who are still pining for a manufacturing district, etc. It all is frustrating when you've already seen how quickly the Toll folks organized to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt (we got a flyer in our home today opposing the superfund, with some dubious claims. I've found on the internet a lot of academic discrediting of the whole "superfund lowers property values" trope.)

It seems to come down to a simple question - should the canal be cleaned before or after development? All the rest is details. I think organizing around this simple principle and looping in other constituent groups would be the most helpful (don't park slopers worry about hazardous stuff in the air, in the water) But who is taking the lead among the opposition? It seems there need to be some improved organizing and unity here - after all, who among the non-developers in the neighborhood is really against a multimillion dollar cleanup for the canal to make sure all of us residents are safe?

Batman said...

It is more complicated than just before or after development; it also being into question WHEN development can happen. Of course Toll Bros is going to oppose it if it take 10 years to clean up! Who has the cash to carry a property for that long? Or more importantly, why would they?

Anonymous said...

Buddy scotto please move to Florida . Your time has past.

Anonymous said...

The CANAL must be cleaned BEFORE development: It's SIMPLE and TRUTHFUL!

Any other plan is just another "get-me -rich while you get screwed" evil real estate of the many we have seen proposed recently in our great Boro of Brooklyn under the Bloomie administration. Now Bloomie is talking "green" (the other kind of "green") and let's hope he means it when it comes to the toxic, over-polluted, sewage leaking Gowanus Canal!

BTW: Do the TOLL brothers or any other developers, Buddy and Deb Scotto included, really want to risk lawsuits if luxury condo buyers and their lil tykes get sick with cancer and worse on land that should have been cleaned up by the Federal Government before residents were allowed to live on it?

The whole Buddy Scotto "clean-up the canal as it gets developed by Toll Bros" reaked! PUHHlease! Do they care about human lives? Nope. Just dollars and cents.

Like someone already said: time for Buddy and his "crew" (that whole shameless bunch of lying losers that surrounds him and his daughter Deb) to move to......Forida.

Anonymous said...

The problem I always had with Buddy Scotto was that it was his view of a re-vitalized Gowanus and nobody else's. He refused to listen to other points of view and he set up this bogus GDC to try to promote development under the guise of respectability. I was not fooled. This is the time to tell Buddy and his family that they don't represent Carroll Gardens - their view is a minority one, and should not be the one that prevails. The future of the Gowanus is far too important for small-minded people like the Scottos, with their narrow-minded views and dismissive attitudes. Mary

Scotty Buddo said...

Buddy's media blitz really is nothing compared to his daughter's pretending her concerns are those of locals. No doubt their line is that jobs will be lost without construction and building will be slowed, because those jobs are more important than the cleaning jobs and the building is more important than ensuring the canal is actually cleaned.
Translation: This stands in the way of their m/taking money and so there is no good it could be doing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and what about Toll Brothers quoting lifelong resident etc etc Debra Scotto. The only quote from anyone in the area is from Buddy Scotto's daughter!