Photo by Pixonomy http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixonomy/5216274523/

Another round of voting takes place tonight to determine how $19,500,000 in settlement money from the Exxon-Mobil oil spill will be spent on Greenpoint environmental projects. There are 13 projects looking for a piece of the settlement, including a tidal wetland project along Newtown Creek and an educational community garden in McCarren Park. Other projects include an environmental education center at Greenpoint Library, the planned Box Street Park, and developing a new city park on Bushwick Inlet.

You can head over to the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund to read detailed proposals with the grant amounts for each project. Residents get to vote on which projects deserve funding tonight from 6 to 8:30 pm at the Polish and Slavic Center at 177 Kent Street, and on Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm at the Polish National Home at 261 Driggs Avenue.

Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Pixonomy

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The new construction green townhouse at 319 4th Street in Park Slope we have been following is on the market again and asking $4,625,000. That price puts it into the high end of Park Slope real estate for a two-family of its size.

It was developed by Seth Brown and last sold for 2,870,000 in 2011. We didn’t see it when it was finished. (Or perhaps it never was on the market before, but in any case, this is a resale.)

We think the look of both the exterior and interior turned out very well. Click through for interior and rear photos. What do you think of the design and the price?

319 4th Street Listing [Corcoran]
Green Build for 319 4th Street [Brownstoner]
Photo above by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark; other photos by Corcoran (more…)

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Neighbors on a landmarked block of Prospect Heights are fighting to preserve their interior green space — a concept that has come to be known as the “green doughnut” — from intrusion by a proposed extension at 203 Prospect Place. They have gathered more than 70 signatures on a petition against the two-story tiered extension, which would measure 21 feet deep by 20 feet wide at its biggest points, according to one of the neighbors.

“The addition would jut out into the historic ‘garden core’ and block light and views from neighboring properties,” our tipster said. Above, a photo of the backyard green space sent in by a local.

The proposal did not pass at the Community Board 8 meeting October 9. It goes up in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday, November 18.

The attached brownstone row house at No. 203 was designed by Eastman & Daus in the Neo-Grec style and built in 1885, according to the note in the LPC calendar. The hearing is for more than just the rear yard addition. The owners also wish to “alter the front areaway.”

We have reached out to the architects on the project, but have not yet heard back from them. We’ll update the story if we do.

152 freeman street passive house greenpoint

Williamsburg-based architect firm Loadingdock5 has designed passive houses and condos all over Brooklyn, including some for Hello Living!, and now the group is building its own passive house apartment building at 152 Freeman Street in Greenpoint, according to New York YIMBY.  The seven-unit “Haus” is designed to be like a “baugruppe” (German for “building group”), a cooperative community that builds its own home, usually to passive house standards. It’s a popular living arrangement among architects and builders in Germany and Austria.

We’re not wild about the facade, which has a typical boxy passive house look and asymmetrical windows, but the project is intriguing. The architects say on their website that they want to prove a passive house can be built for relatively little money in New York. The four-story project will have one unit on the first floor and two each on the second through fourth floors, along with a shared garden and roof deck. Each apartment will be about 700 square feet.

The project has already been beset by costly delays, though. An energy audit by the New York City Building Department took a year. What do you think of the development?

Revealed: Haus at 152 Freeman Street, Greenpoint Passive House Baugruppe [NYY]
Rendering by Loadingdock5

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The demo of a sludge tank in Greenpoint last month kicked up a large amount of potentially hazardous dust, according to nearby residents. Two families in the area had the dust independently tested and found 40 parts per million of arsenic, lead, chromium, zinc and other chemicals, according to stories in DNAinfo and Greenpointers. That amount is not considered toxic to adults but could pose problems to children. The site is located next to the Greenpoint playground. Residents, activists and local politicians have asked the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to test the area. The photo above was taken by a family of its just-washed car after the demolition.

The contractor hired to carry out the demolition was Skanksa, according to Greenpointers. (Skanksa is the Swedish firm embroiled in litigation with Forest City Ratner over modular construction.) Skanska supposedly used a subcontractor on the Sludge Tank demo, NASDI, “which was recently hit with over $40,000 in fines resulting from improper asbestos removal in a South Boston housing project,” according to Greenpointers. “An investigation in Boston determined NASDI allowed both its workers and local residents to be exposed to toxic levels of asbestos.”

The sludge tank was located at the intersection of Dupont and Commercial Street on the Greenpoint waterfront. It is across the street from Greenpoint Playground at 243 Franklin Street. Greenpoint Landing is being constructed nearby, with the first buildings to be located at 21 Commercial Street and 33 Eagle Street. The sludge tank was moved to Newtown Creek Waste Treatment Facility, according to Greenpointers.

Construction Dust May Pose Health Hazard at Greenpoint Playground: Experts [DNA]
Neighbors Test Dust From Sludge Tank Demo and Find Contaminants [Greenpointers]
Photo via DNAinfo

double d pool park slope patch

The EPA has been warning since 2012 that the Gowanus Canal Superfund cleanup might require digging up Gowanus’ only public park and swimming pool to install tanks to catch overflow sewage. That scenario is looking more likely — and neighbors are not pleased – following an announcement Tuesday by the City’s Department of Environmental Protection that it has narrowed the list of possible sites for the sewage tanks to just two. Those are Thomas Greene Park and Double D Pool or the “salt lot” on 2nd Avenue and 5th Street next to the Gowanus Canal.

The Friends of Douglass Greene Park issued a statement today, not its first, against the siting of the tanks in the park and is again circulating its petition to save the pool. But if the EPA does decide to dig up the public space, the community group demands a “seamless transition” to park and pool facilities somewhere nearby.

Photo by Park Slope Patch

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“Lander’s whole process was rigged to create a forced consensus to give the developers a green light to go forward,” said an 11-year resident of Gowanus at the Take Back Gowanus meeting Wednesday, referring to Councilman Brad Lander’s series of public meetings earlier this year.

Proposals from speakers at the meeting were wide ranging. Some mentioned in a story in the Brooklyn Eagle:

*An end to residential development on the banks of the canal.
*Designating the first few floors of any new residential building as manufacturing.
*Upgrading infrastructure, whether tied to new development or not.

Some of the proposals aimed to reform the political process: (more…)

grilling

A group of residents who live near Prospect Park want to ban grilling in the park, because they say it causes toxic fumes to waft into playgrounds, public walkways and nearby homes. Park Sloper Daz Ryan has garnered 132 signatures so far on his Change.org petition, “Make Prospect Park Toxic Free by 2015.”

She told the Daily News she lives near the park on 14th Street and suffered through years of hazardous smoke seeping into her house. She is forced to close all her windows, and the smoke has even set off her carbon monoxide detector, she said.

Grilling is only allowed in certain areas on the outskirts of the park, but plenty of parkgoers ignore the rules and set up grills wherever they please, according to the story. The fumes also affect aquatic life, herons, ducks, turtles, frogs and possums, according to park cleanup volunteer Randi Lass.

“Runoff from the charcoal wind up in the lake, threatening all living things that require the lake for sustenance,” she told the News.

At least one park goer was outraged by the proposal. “This is everybody’s backyard,” he said as he grilled burgers. “Not everybody has the privilege of having a backyard.”

Borough President Eric Adams’ office said they were considering the issue. What do you think should be done?

Prospect Park-Goers Call for a Barbecue Ban in the Massive Green Space [NYDN]
Photo by Kristin Resurreccion

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A long-promised prototype for emergency housing is now finished and in place in a parking lot at Cadman Plaza East in downtown Brooklyn. It was unveiled at a press conference Tuesday. Above, the prototype under construction. If the units are actually produced, at a projected cost of $175,000 to $200,000 each, the city would simply truck them in and plug them into utilities after a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy. Where the units would be stored was not mentioned.

The prototype consists of three apartments stacked on top of one another, wrote The New York Times. A one-bedroom unit measured 480 square feet. A three-bedroom was 813 square feet. The Times continued:

The cork floors and spartan bathrooms give the models an institutional feel more reminiscent of a college dormitory than neighboring Dumbo. But with full kitchens and a few bursts of yellow, the apartments in no way resemble the infamous Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers where dangerous levels of formaldehyde poisoned occupants after Hurricane Katrina, or the illegal basement apartments that offered refuge from Hurricane Sandy.

Do you think this is the best approach for the city to shelter victims displaced by the next disaster?

Emergency Housing Unit Is Unveiled in Brooklyn [NY Times]
Photo by AIA New York

Carriage horses, low-rise 19th-century buildings, wood burning fireplaces — the Mayor doesn’t seem to have much use for the 19th century. The mayor’s ban on building new wood burning fireplaces will take effect July 2, so build your fireplaces while you can. But the new law could be a Trojan horse, soon to be followed by a ban on all wood burning fireplaces, according to a story in The New York Times.

Montreal implemented a similar innocuous sounding rule a few years ago, and is now requiring all residents to actually remove wood burning stoves and fireplaces by 2021, said the Times. That sounds a bit extreme. London also banned the burning of wood and “other solid fuels” but has not demanded residents rip out their mantels and stoves.

A family in Park Slope spent $17,000 outfitting two fireplaces and a chimney in their brownstone to burn wood and they use it “as often as five times a week” in the cold months. A couple in Bay Ridge reclaimed their circa-1900 fireplace from a family of raccoons but they’ve only used it a handful of times. Two Boerum Hill roommates actually used their fireplace to heat their apartment this past winter, until they realized their windows were actually slightly open.

Science says each wood burning fireplace creates 6,200 grams of heart-stopping, asthma-inducing particulate matter a year, vs. 23 grams from a natural gas fireplace.

But while the utility of a wood burning fireplace is questionable, its symbolism is great. “There may be no feature of a New York apartment more sought after, yet less used, than a wood-burning fireplace: one of the city’s great real estate holy grails, keeping company in the dream-apartment pantheon with walk-in closets and private outdoor space,” said the Times.

What do you think of the Mayor’s ban?

That Dream Apartment With a Crackling Hearth Is Losing Some Spark [NY Times]
Photo by Cara Greenberg