Thursday, November 21, 2013

Your Participation Is Needed: Have A Say On The Future Of The Gowanus Neighborhood At Public Meeting On December 9th

Your involvement and participation are needed. 
Please make every effort to attend this important meeting.

Bridging Gowanus
Monday December 9th, 2013 
from 6:30 to 8:30 pm 
at PS 372 – The Children’s School at 512 Carroll Street. 
"First in a series of public meetings to develop a neighborhood framework for the infrastructure and land uses needed for a safe, vibrant and sustainable Gowanus." 
Recently, I wrote about a series of 'Gowanus Planning' kick-off meetings that had been held jointly by State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, State Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Councilmember Steven Levin and Councilmember Lander.
Pratt Center for Community Development (not to be confused with the Pratt Institute) has been hired by the elected officials as the facilitator and consultant in charge of running the planning process.
According to an overview prepared by Pratt, the goal is to:
*Develop the outlines of a comprehensive, community‐based infrastructure and land‐use plan for a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Gowanus area
*Bring community stakeholders together to build as much consensus as we can around a long‐term vision for the Gowanus Canal area
*Shape the next NYC mayoral administration’s thinking about the Gowanus Canal
*Create a space for honest conversation about different viewpoints.

The first such meeting had been convened this past August. On the list of invited stakeholders were representatives from local organizations and neighborhood associations. Those same stakeholders met again in October for a series of small group interviews.
Pratt Center compiled the information from these interviews and will present the findings at the first in a series of public meetings to be held on Monday December 9th, 2013.

The end result of these meetings, according to a press release "will be a community supported blueprint for an environmentally safe, vibrant, and sustainable Gowanus to inform de Blasio Administration."

Personally, I remain very skeptical of this entire 'Gowanus planning' process and doubt that at its conclusion, the community will be able to truly influence the outcome.
Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio, who once served as our Councilman, not only supported the Toll Brothers Gowanus spot-rezoning back in '08, he fought hard to drive away the EPA when the agency proposed to list the Gowanus as a Superfund. I have no doubt that he is itching to hand over the Gowanus corridor to developers.

However, as I wrote previously, I do believe that the community needs to take the planning process back. We owe it to ourselves and to all who will come after us to take our seat at the table, and to push for a true, transparent, democratic process. We need to tell our politicians that before any new development is envisioned, we need to first find out what the Gowanus can sustain. We need to first invest in infrastructure to strengthen the businesses and the residential areas that are already there, and we need to demand new tools in City Planning's tool box.
As a community, we need to remind our politicians that before moving ahead with any re-zoning, we need a health study to gage the effects of exposure to the environmental hazards in Gowanus. Secondly, we need a hydrological study to evaluate the effect of new development in this flood prone area.
Most importantly, we need assurances from Mayor-elect De Balsio that the City Of New York will pay and follow through on the EPA-mandated retention basins that will help reduce the Combined Sewer Overflows and improve water quality in the canal. Without these studies and without the retention basins, planning more housing in Gowanus seemed "recklessly premature."

Whether you live or work in Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, or Park Slope, whatever your vision for the future, we will all be affected by how the Gowanus corridor will be re-zoned.
Please stay involved.   You can visit for upcoming meeting announcements and information about the process. 


Anonymous said...

?"a community supported blueprint"?

And just how, or who, gauges whether the community supports the blueprint that Pratt will put forward under this process?

Speaking at these public forums is not the same thing as supporting the final blueprint.

Anonymous said...


New construction, for manufacturing, commercial or residential development will likely be on on piles, and 99% flood-proof.

New construction will have no impact on groundwater, except to improve it slightly because the fill used will not contain the contamination of excavated soil, which will be disposed in NJ landfills (not Red Hook).

Hopefully, we can discuss and support a community plan of what post-Superfund development will include and avoid the NIMBY attitude of a few people who live in Carroll Gardens.

Jim said...

I'm sure there's no correlation between the sudden interest to clean the toilet after approx. 160 years and the fact that land value on both sides of the canal in Gow-anus and Carroll Gardens is increasing exponentially.

Anonymous said...

The best way to avoid a few people running away with community planning is to have the community vote on any plan, just like Landers did with the particaptory budget thing.

Agnes said...

@11:59. Don't dismiss concerns about some Gowanus development visions saying it's Carroll Gardens NIMBY attitude. I have been in Gowanus for decades and am quite content with zoning as is. It is the threat of rezoning that has been the burden for industry that badly needs zoning as is. In my area of Gowanus alone I have been a witness to all kinds of influx that has had to flee from other areas that have been rezoned and gentrified - Soho, Dumbo, for example. If there is any inactivity in a bldg it is because the owner is warehousing with hopes that the property will be rezoned for the more lucrative residential, or mixed use (which is basically a Trojan Horse for residential - ask any City Planner). We need industry much more than we need humongous residential condos, and it is more appropriate for land use that is in a flood zone, on a hurricane evacuation route. Dense residential development is inappropriate, Greedy speculators are just waiting to see commercial property that they got cheaply escalate. Not in my backyard, please. Support what is flourishing naturally - movie making, special effects, woodworking and artisinal crafts, baking, restoration work, bookmaking, the list is long- where will these places go? A society needs services and industry.