The end of North Henry Street will be transformed into a public shoreline, thanks to the first round of grants from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. The group announced funding for 18 small-grant projects yesterday. The Newtown Creek Alliance will get $25,000 for its shoreline project, DNAinfo reported. (Above, Newtown Creek flowing into the East River.)
The New York City Audubon Society will receive about $50,000 for a habitation project with two schools to attract birds in McGolrick Park. A grant of $12,500 will go to Build It Green! to study the feasibility of a community compost site in the area.
The Brooklyn Recovery Fund has issued an impressive report on the state of Brooklyn more than a year after Hurricane Sandy. The report, issued a little over a month ago, found:
“While systems are back online and homes are mucked out, coastal communities continue to struggle. Home and business owners have spent down their life savings and built up debt. Many are barely making mortgage payments, and live in fear of foreclosure. Tenants face new and increasing landlord issues, including ongoing repair needs and rent hikes, and many have been forced to start over in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Storm drains remain clogged, temporary boilers create the random loss of heat, and mold persists in homes — threatening the health of our families. These needs require the utmost attention and commitment from local and city-wide decision-makers and government agencies, and beg the cooperation of all those involved to ensure that our communities recover to be better and stronger than ever before.”
The report has specific recommendations for each neighborhood in the five areas of housing, health, business and jobs, immigrant and undocumented communities and infrastructure. All the recommendations are backed up with studies and data. Some of the findings: (more…)
The settlement fund for the Greenpoint oil spill has received 96 proposals for improving the environment in Greenpoint, The New York Times reported. The fund has $19,500,000 to give away. The projects include:
*A $7,000,000 request from the New York City parks department and the City Parks Foundation to plant trees on the street and in Greenpoint parks, improve Box Street Park and buy a 7.5-acre plot to turn into a park.
*A $304,750 proposal by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to create curbside gardens to filter storm water and help clean Newtown Creek. The department also applied for $288,465 to study how to use floating wetlands to decrease pollution.
*Audubon New York proposes to restore plantings to attract native bird species in Monsignor McGolrick Park. The habitation project would be carried out with students at P.S. 110 and St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy.
*Residents and environmental groups request almost $1,000,000 to map disease clusters and toxic sites in the area, as we reported earlier.
The Times story also noted that ExxonMobil has recovered about 12 million gallons from the oil spill to date, using 21 wells throughout the area. Sales of the recycled oil is bring in about $60,000 a year, and the money is donated to Greenpoint schools and organizations. Above, a boom to contain oil set out on Newtown Creek.
A friend who lives in Kensington sent us these photos last night and told us that around 10 pm, she got home and found her water contaminated with gasoline. A fireman she spoke to said that someone may have dumped it into the sewers. Firetrucks came to her block as well (see a photo after the jump), near Dahill Road and Clara Street. Is anyone else who lives in Kensington having this problem?
UPDATE: A spokesman from NYC Department of Environmental Protection tells us that it’s not possible for anything in the sewers to end up in the drinking water, because the water supply is a closed, pressurized system that carries clean drinking water from the Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers. He added that the fastest way to get rid of any discolored water is to run your taps. The water may be discolored because of a change in the flow, or because firefighters were running a firehose. The DEP plans to send someone to the area to investigate the water. Our tipster who lives on the block said the water smelled like gasoline, as did the block.
A story in the New York Times about how the severe winter weather is breaking the budgets and pipes of cities and states in the Northeast, South and Midwest got us thinking about what it’s doing to property owners and renters here in Brooklyn.
Our oil bill for January was $1,203.57. Normally it would be about $600. The unusual mix of ice, heavy snow, and torrential rain Thursday somehow penetrated our mudroom ceiling and dumped a ton of water into the room. The room is still wet, even though the roof and the drainpipe are brand new, and we anticipate we’re going to have to rip out the ceiling and walls and do mold cleanup soon.
What about you? Has the severe weather done a number on your heating or home repair bills?
Community advocates and environmental experts want to map disease and toxic sites in Greenpoint. They are seeking nearly $1 million from a $19.5 million environmental fund set aside in a 2010 settlement of the massive ExxonMobil oil spill in Greenpoint’s Newtown Creek to search out clusters of asthma, cancer, heart disease and birth defects in the 11222 ZIP code, the New York Post reported.
Lifelong Greenpoint resident Laura Hofmann told the Post she has an autoimmune disease that she thinks was triggered by pollution, and her family has suffered from several different diseases.
Greenpoint’s industrial past includes somewhere between 17 and 30 million gallons of oil spilled into Newtown Creek (pictured above), toxic vapors concentrated underground from former dry cleaners and metal companies, and toxic chemicals that have seeped from underground tanks at the Nuhart Plastics Factory.
The graffiti-covered and abandoned MTA powerhouse known as the Gowanus Batcave is finally being cleaned out by the state, First and Court reported. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a remediation plan for the site, which housed factories for Nassau Sulfur Works and Smith and Shaw Mattress Materials and Paper Stock beginning in 1886.
Brooklyn Rapid Transit acquired the property to use as a powerhouse in 1904, and “under their ownership, it appears that coal was delivered by water and transported beneath the site via coal tunnel,” the state notes. It was later owned by the Williamsburg Power Plant Corp. and then the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which used it as an electrical substation and switching yard until 1996.
Plans include removing “grossly contaminated soil” and any soil that contains high levels of PCBs. The public comment period for the plan will last 45 days, from January 3 until February 17. Owner Joshua Rechnitz has said he wants to build art galleries and studio spaces on the site.
It’s been very quiet here since 6 pm last night with no cars or people on the street. At 8 am, a neighbor started shoveling and broke the silence. Looks like the storm is pretty much over now. We got about 8 inches. There are a few people out walking down the middle of the street and a few buses and cars on the major roads.
The Brooklyn Public Library will open at noon. The temperature is supposed to reach a high of 12 degrees at 2 pm.
What’s happening where you are and what are your plans today?
The Environmental Protection Agency overseeing the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal Superfund site said Wednesday they will proceed with plans to build a holding tank for sewage runoff under a popular public pool in Gowanus unless the city can offer a viable alternative site, The Brooklyn Paper reported. The cleanup would mean closing the Double D pool at the Thomas Greene Playground for years, and a group of Gowanus residents who rely on the pool in the summer vehemently oppose the plan.
The EPA needs an alternative site within nine months so they can start the design, said Superfund Project Manager Christos Tsiamis at a community meeting. But even if another site for the storage tank is found, the pool may have to temporarily close anyway. It sits on top of contaminated soil where a gas plant operated from 1879 to 1929. The state may require National Grid to dig up and remove the contaminated ground.
Alexandros Washburn, the head urban designer for the New York City Department of City Planning, renovated his Red Hook row house with some innovations other city dwellers could make use of, including anti-flood devices. He kept the original staircase, but added an open, overhead flight of stairs to the top story that serves as a design element and lets in light from the roof, The New York Times reported in a profile of the house and its owners. The thick kitchen counters are made from joists salvaged during the renovation. Exposed brick and persian carpets, from his mother, who grew up in Istanbul, are strong design elements throughout the house.
“Mr. Washburn bought the three-story house in 2007, for $800,000, and spent another $500,000 renovating it,” said the Times. “Six years later, he is nearly finished, except for the ground floor, which was three feet deep in water during the hurricane.”
Right now, he and his family live on the upper floors, in case of flooding, but he would like to rent out the ground-level retail space. Toward that end, he is working on a system to keep water out of his house and his neighbor’s house during the next flood. If it works, hopes to get the DOB to approve it. (more…)