Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Night At The Gowanus Canal CAG General Meeting


Gowanus Canal CAG Facilitator Jeff Edelstein
 Gardiner Cross of NYS Department Of  Environmental Conservation (DEC) 
New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Councilman Steven Levin

Last night's Environmental Protection Agency's Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group (CAG) gathered at the Brooklyn Historical Society for its monthly meeting. The evening's agenda included updates on the ongoing work done by the various CAG committees. 
-The Archeology Committee is planning a historic walking tour of the Gowanus Canal with EPA's Archeologist John Vetter this Friday. The tour will include such historically significant structures as the Coignet Stone building, the Carroll Street bridge, and the former site of Brouwer's Mill built in 1652. (I am taking part in the tour and will post about it afterwards.)
-The Water Quality and Technical Committees reported on a meeting they held recently with EPA's engineer for the Gowanus Canal, Christos Tsiamis.  The agency is planning to release its Feasibility study for the Gowanus Canal clean-up in December.
-Water Quality and Technical also reported about the presentation National Grid and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation gave to them last month regarding the proposed remediation at the heavily polluted former Citizens Gas Works MGP site on Smith Street between 5th Street and Huntington Street. 
At last night's meeting,  DEC's Gardiner Cross was asked to clarify some aspects of the clean-up plan. In particular, there was a concern about why the High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) liner, which is meant to help manage storm water, is supposedly going to be installed 2 feet below grade on the site.  Surely, some CAG members argued, it would make more sense to install the liner deeper, especially if the City plans to build on the site. It would seem that the liner could easily be compromised by any digging on the site .  Cross promised that he will look into the possibility and will get back to the CAG with an answer. 
For further information on the remediation of the site, go to


Anonymous said...

NYS State Sen. Montgomery and NYC Councilmember Levin arrived near the end of the meeting and added nothing to the discussion, so why show them and give them any credit. That is not fair to the other electeds or their reps who were there for the entire meeting.

Katia said...

Not sure why they shouldn't get any credit for showing up personally, even if they were late.
Yes, the reps of our other elected officials sat through the entire lengthy, sometimes boring meeting, but except for Dan Wiley of Velázquez's office, the reps "did not contribute anything to the discussion" either.

Btw. Dan Wiley has been incredibly involved and knowledgable on the issues related to the Gowanus Superfund.

And as for Senator Montgomery, she has impressed me
immensely when she was the first politician to whole-heartedly support the Superfund designation for the Gowanus. Some of the other local politicians sat on the fence way too long.
In addition, after last night's meeting, the Senator made herself available to members of the CAG. It gave me the opportunity to express my concerns about the National Grid clean-up of Public Place directly to her.
I think that deserves some credit, don't you?

I'll gladly take a picture and do the same for the others when/if they show up at the next meeting.

Anonymous said...

The High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) liner will be installed following the construction of the housing project. Our main concern should be what scale of housing will now be needed for Public Place due to the EPA Superfund cost increases. HPD may need to rebid or allow all affordable housing to be eliminated or allow selected developer to double the density. EPA needs to issue an Environmental Impact Statement on how our community will be affected by their actions.

Margaret said...

Senator Montgomery was has been incredibly supportive of the Gowanus cleanup from the very beginning - YEARS before the EPA stepped in. She deserves our gratitude.

Anonymous said...

You missed the point on the electeds. Having them come nearly at the end of the meeting and sitting there like bumps on a log does not contribute anything to the clean-up. We need them out there with us when we have to push NYS DEC & NYC DEP to do the right thing with the real clean-up of the canal.

Katia said...

True that.
We need to put a fire under DEC and DEP 's rear-end and we sure could use our politicians to get these two agencies to do more than the bare minimum.
That's what I was able to convey to Montgomery yesterday.

Anonymous said...

This is Jim Vogel from Senator Montgomery's office. Katia, thank you very much for your kind words about the Senator (all of which I think are on the money!)
I'm a regular at the CAG monthly meetings, and as I recall, the rules of the CAG are that discussions are only for CAG members: all others, elected officials included, are to observe, which might seem like "sitting there like bumps on a log." We cannot contribute to the conversations. These are the rules you made, as I understand them.
Senator Montgomery and her office are absolutely willing to work with any strategies the CAG develop; you just have to ask. Great work, everyone!

Katia said...

Hi Jim,
You are absolutely correct. Discussions at these meetings are mostly between members of the CAG.
Politicians only contribute if asked.
Senator Montgomery continues to impress me. Wish our other elected officials had her integrity.

Anonymous said...

Throw the Bums Out!

Blindly supporting governmental actions without full disclosure is not something our politicians should support. EPA's false claims of dredging 500,000 of sediment in 8 years is criminal.

It will take 10-15 years just to obtain the permits to drive the sheeting required for dredging and that's only after constrruction funds have been identified.

Don't drink the Kool Aid!

Katia said...

Well, EPA has impressed me a lot more than DEC, DEP or National Grid. If there were to be any delays, its because those three lack the real willpower to do their bit for the clean-up.
Not impressed by the City or the State, which should be representing the citizens of this community.
EPA, on the other hand, has been incredibly transparent and forthcoming with information. And so far, they have kept all of their target dates set at the beginning of this Superfund process.