Yesterday the New York Times reported that the New York Aquarium, located off the Coney Island boardwalk, will reopen in the late spring. The Wildlife Conservation Society has not yet announced the exact date, but expects to soon. In spring only half the aquarium will open to the public, including exhibits in the Main Hall and the outdoor area of Sea Cliffs. Hurricane Sandy totally flooded the complex, leaving 10 to 15 feet of water in the basement and two to three feet on the ground floor. The staff worked around the clock to pump out the water and set up emergency generators so the marine life wouldn’t have to be evacuated. The Society estimated that in total, the hurricane caused $65 million worth of damage.
An Aquarium in Brooklyn Will Partly Reopen in Spring [NY Times]
Photo by fatmat426
Yesterday both Grub Street and Eater reported that the Red Hook Lobster Pound would reopen this Friday, March 1, after rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy. According to Grub Street, “The Van Brunt Street’s holding tanks were destroyed, most of its inventory spoiled and, in all, the business had assessed more than $100,000 of damage by the time power was turned back on.” The owners pushed back the targeted opening day from Valentine’s Day, and the new opening date coincides with the return of Fairway Market. To start off, the Lobster Pound’s new hours will be from noon to 8 pm Wednesdays through Sundays and until 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Red Hook Winery is also aiming to open its tasting room by March 1, so it’s looking like there will be a big party in Red Hook come Friday!
Photo by TheGirlsNY
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Toll Brothers and Starwood developers want to design the hotel and residential building at Pier One a little differently. The New York Post reports they want to raise both buildings up at least three feet to avoid the flood damage seen in the surrounding neighborhood. That means additional steps and ramps up to the lobby, mechanical systems on the roof, and a basement used for parking. The developers are still working on the plan and it has delayed the groundbreaking, previously scheduled for this month. Of course, the Post finds a resident NIMBY who doesn’t want the development coming to Brooklyn Heights in the first place — she tells them, “the lesson of Sandy is it will happen again, and when it happens, it will be really bad for those residents who wind up buying condos there.”
Developers Want to Raise Proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park Complex [NY Post]
Tonight the EPA will host a meeting for Red Hook residents concerned about the EPA’s proposal to construct a facility in Red Hook that decontaminates the material dredged from the Gowanus Canal Superfund site and uses it as landfill. You can read lots of details about the proposal over at the Red Hook Star Revue. The proposed “contaminated disposal facility” would go in the Gowanus Bay Terminal. There the Gowanus soil would be coalesced into a solid mixture of sand, dredge and cement to create a landfill. According to the Revue, “the plan creates developable land for the GBX’s owner, John Quadrozzi, Jr. The land’s use would ultimately be the decision of Quadrozzi alone.” Quadrozzi first proposed this in the fall, and at that point the EPA’s involvement was uncertain. The plan is now in its public comment period, which lasts until April 27th. The public meeting on the matter will be held tonight at 6:30 pm in PS 15 on Sullivan Street (between Van Brunt & Richards).
EPA Seeks Input on Placement of Gowanus Sludge [Red Hook Star Revue]
Developer Wants Gowanus Sludge to Create Landfill [Brownstoner]
Photo by Jim in Times Square
NYC resident Greg Todd has created a business proposal to collect food waste and convert it into compost available for local use. He’s targeting small coffee shops, juice bars and restaurants and would employ local youth to pedal bike carts to collect waste from these businesses. Then, the waste will be converted to compost in small composting machines located in manufacturing districts. But he notes, “it seems that the city wants more evidence of demand for composting services before they will create a carting license that makes sense for community carters such as the one I propose. If we could get, say, 50 coffee houses to complete this survey, we might be able to convince the City that the demand exists.” Interested? Fill out the survey right here.
Photo by EliasSchewel
In two weeks the State of New York will host an Open House for Greenpoint residents concerning the $19.5 million allocated to the neighborhood in a settlement with Exxon Mobil. It’ll be Monday, February 11th from 5 pm to 8 pm at The Polish & Slavic Center, 176 Java Street. This will be an opportunity to receive an update on what’s happening in the program, meet the fund’s general administrator and provide input on potential environmental projects. For all of the background information and the status of the project to date, go here.
Greenpoint Environmental Benefit Projects Program [NY Attorney General]
Tonight and tomorrow night the Environmental Protection Agency will host meetings concerning its $504 million cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal, unveiled in late December. According to Gowanus Your Face Off, the EPA’s opening remarks will be followed by a presentation and will end with a question and answer session. Tonight’s meeting is at 6:30 pm at PS 58, 330 Smith Street. Tomorrow’s meeting is at 7 pm, at the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street. A Spanish translation will be provided at both meetings.
EPA Proposal Meeting Tonight! [GYFO]
Photo by meshugas
Brooklyn Independent Television’s Brooklyn Review takes a look at Passive House projects happening in Brooklyn during a recent open house tour. They speak with the architects at 228 Washington Avenue, a project well known to Brownstoner readers, and 96 St. Marks Avenue, a passive condo building that hit the market in the fall. The video does a good job explaining all the components that go into a passive house and what it means to design a passive house in a historic neighborhood. Brendan Aguayo, the developer at 96 St. Marks Avenue, says that “Brooklyn has become the hub for passive house,” and he thinks that there are more passive house projects in Brooklyn than anywhere else in the country.
Passive House: Brooklyn Review [YouTube]
The New York Times profiled a handful of Red Hook businesses hit hard by Sandy and still aiming for a reopening date. According to the Times, “February has become the target month” for many. Red Hook Lobster Pound is shooting for Valentine’s Day. Home/Made plans to offer brunch this weekend, but has also set its sights on Valentine’s Day for a full-scale reopening. Sunny’s Bar, still badly damaged (along with the owner’s house next door), has no estimate on when they will be back in business. Fortunately, several operations are already up and running: Fort Defiance opened the night before Thanksgiving with a pig roast; The Good Fork restaurant reopened to big crowds on New Year’s Eve; and Baked, Hope and Anchor, and Brooklyn Crab survived the storm relatively unscathed. Finally, the Times reports that Fairway is hoping for a late February opening date, although the grocery store announced yesterday that it will reopen in March. The repairs to the store cost close to $10 million.
Flooded Businesses Set Goal to Reopen, But Obstacles Emerge [NY Times]
Photo by 0rpheus_in_NYC
Hurricane Sandy wiped out the Red Hook Fairway, but the massive grocery store won’t stay down for long. Here’s an announcement they posted today on Facebook: “WE’RE HIRING ADDITIONAL STAFF IN RED HOOK!! Red Hook is scheduled to open in March and we are currently hiring in addition to our employees returning.” If you’re interested in applying, go here. Can’t wait until this store is back in action!
Photo by greenelent
Brooklyn public library branches damaged by Hurricane Sandy are reopening, starting with the Sheepshead Bay branch today, reported The New York Daily News. Brighton Beach will open in a week, Gravesend Jan. 28, Red Hook in February, and Gerritsen Beach sometime in the spring. The damage was so severe at the Coney Island branch on Mermaid Avenue, pictured above, that it is not slated to reopen until October, a year after the storm. “We had to demolish the whole first floor. It had extensive water damage. It was a mess,” Brooklyn Public Library Neighborhood Services Director Linda Portera told the Daily News. “We will rebuild it.” Meanwhile, independent of Sandy, big upgrades and changes are planned throughout the Brooklyn Public Library system, according to The Wall Street Journal. But it’s not because of declining interest — quite the contrary. Since 2002, circulation has gone up 77 percent and visits have increased 41 percent. The library is facing $230 million in deferred maintenance costs, and plans to release its strategic plan today, the Journal said.
Storm-Ravaged Brooklyn Libraries Begin to Reopen [NY Daily News]
Library Eyes New Page [WSJ]
Photo by Brooklyn Public Libary via NY Daily News
FEMA announced that Sheepshead Bay residents still without heat and hot water after Hurricane Sandy hit in late October will soon have their own nearby disaster recovery center provided by the federal relief group. According to the Brooklyn Daily, FEMA is scouting possible locations; likely the center will end up near public transportation. The center will provide info on government aid programs and allow people to register for assistance. Many residents in the area are still without heat, hot water or vehicles. Bay Improvement Group executive director Laura McKenna told the Daily, “We really feel like its overdue, but we’re happy to have it.”
Feds: Sheepshead Bay Will Get Disaster Recovery Center [BK Daily]
Photo by akhouses
Local activists are overjoyed the federally mandated cleanup of the Gowanus Canal will include not only chemical pollutants from its years as an industrial waterway but also the biohazardous overflow from city sewers during storms. The Brooklyn Paper has reported more details on just exactly how that will be accomplished: With two giant catch basins costing $78 million each buried underground at the head of the canal near Butler Street and in the middle of the canal near Third Street. Interestingly, one of the chemical pollutants in the canal is coal tar, a byproduct of the days when manufactured gas plants lined the canal’s banks. National Grid has inherited responsibility for some of that, and is one of three dozen industrial polluters who will help pay for the cleanup. As for the proposed sewer overflow tanks, they will hold up to eight million gallons of raw sewage during storms, then send the glop to wastewater treatment plants in Red Hook and Bay Ridge. As a result, discharges of raw sewage into the canal should be reduced by about 58 to 74 percent, the Feds estimate. “We have been trying to get the city to do something about the [sewer] pollution forever,” the Brooklyn Paper quoted Linda Mariano, co-founder of Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus, as saying. “It’s a very good thing that they are going to make the effort. That’s what we have been advocating for, for all of these years — I’m happy.”
Feds Force City to Keep Sewage Out of Gowanus [Brooklyn Paper]
EPA Unveils Cleanup Plan for Gowanus [Brownstoner]
Photo by juliandunn
Yesterday, the EPA revealed its plan for the Gowanus Canal: Dredge it, scrape up the toxic sludge, and bind the goo with sand or concrete. In addition, the plan calls for diverting raw sewage into overflow tanks until the City’s water treatment plants can handle it. The price tag is estimated at $467 million to $504 million, with cleanup completed in 2020. The public review process starts now: Two public meetings are set for Jan. 23 and 24; public and written comments will be accepted through March 28.
A Price Tag for the Gowanus Cleanup [NY Times]
EPA Looks to Spend $500M Cleaning up Gowanus Canal [NY Post]
EPA to Release Plan for Gowanus Cleanup [Brownstoner]
Photo by Genial23
The Brooklyn Recovery Fund launched on Oct. 29, a few days after Hurricane Sandy, and has since raised over $1.5 million. Two $100,000 grants went to community groups in Red Hook and Coney Island. About.com posted a comprehensive, up-to-date list of many more nonprofits that benefitted from the overwhelming donations of Brooklynites. Here are a few:
- $10,000 to the Dumbo Improvement District for assisting the Rebuild Dumbo Fund in supporting local businesses and galleries hurt by the storm.
- $10,000 to the Shorefront Jewish Community Council for extra case management services and meals for local senior citizens in Brighton Beach.
- $10,000 to the Jewish Community Council of Canarsie for local emergency food needs and additional mental health services.
- $10,000 to the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger for additional food stamp enrollment; the campaign mobilizes a free food mobile van to Coney Island.
- $50,000 for Gerritsen Beach Cares to hire electricians to restore electricity to homes of vulnerable populations, notably seniors and families with young children.
- $10,000 to East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corp for business owners in proximity to flooding near Newtown Creek.
- $10,000 to Added Value for a pop-up farmers market to bring badly need fresh fruit and vegetables to damaged communities.
- $10,000 to Mercy Home, to replace destroyed equipment and food at this Red Hook group home for developmentally disabled adults.
- $10,000 to Brooklyn Community Services for mental health services, family counseling, cash assistance and emergency supply distribution in three Coney Island highrises for low-income seniors.
- $5,000 to Park Slope’s Old First Reformed Church for the congregation’s volunteer food prep and delivery to local disaster areas.
See the full list here.
From Brooklyn Daily comes this surprising report that most Christmas trees are conventionally grown with synthetic fertilizer to promote fast growth and pesticides to prevent insect damage. But some growers, such as Vermont-based Adam Parke Trees, use organic methods. In addition to being easier on the environment, organically raised trees have another benefit: They last 50 percent longer than the conventionally grown ones, according to Adam Parke, which sells trees in several locations in brownstone Brooklyn.
Oh Christmas Tree How Organic Are Your Branches? [Brooklyn Daily]
Photo by pamcrowley77
Someone uploaded a video showing “strange lights” hovering over the corner of Vanderbilt and Dean to UFO Sightings Daily last week. A post about the video on Gather asks the obvious question: Why are extraterrestrials so attracted to Brooklyn? We know: It’s the schools in Park Slope. The artisanal pork belly probably doesn’t hurt either.
Three Glowing UFOs Over Brooklyn [UFO Sightings Daily]
UFO Lights Spotted Twice Over Brooklyn [Gather]
Video still via UFO Sightings Daily
A New York Times investigation has found that NYCHA was overwhelmed by Hurricane Sandy, and left elderly and other residents stranded for weeks without heat, food or medicine. One person died falling down wet stairs, several suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from heating their apartments with the oven, and others suffered ill health by going without crucial medications.
An examination by The New York Times has found that while the agency moved aggressively before the storm to encourage residents to leave, particularly those who were disabled and the needy, both it and the city government at large were woefully unprepared to help its residents deal with Hurricane Sandy’s lingering aftermath. The city, which did not enforce its mandatory evacuation order, could not assess the medical needs of residents stuck atop darkened, freezing towers until nearly two weeks after the storm. It relied on ragtag bands of volunteers who quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the task of reaching, comforting and caring for trapped residents. And the seemingly simplest things, like towing portable lighting towers into the Red Hook public housing complex, took 11 days, all because the housing authority had not properly prepared for a major disaster.
The report found that the city in 2009 recommended NYCHA elevate critical equipment stored in basements and set up standby contracts for emergencies, but the recommendations were never carried out, perhaps for lack of funds. Above, temporary boiler installation at the Red Hook Houses after the hurricane.
Housing Agency’s Flaws Revealed by Storm [NY Times]
Photo by NYCHA
The Environmental Protection Agency will release its plan for cleaning up the Gowanus canal in just a few weeks, the blog Pardon Me For Asking reported. In the meantime, the EPA is taking more test samples in the canal. The agency also plans to hold a public meeting in January or February to present its course of action. This will be followed by a period for public comment.
Gowanus Canal Superfund Cleanup Update [PMFA]
Photo by Proteus Gowanus
The Brooklyn Recovery Fund has announced the recipients of two $100,000 grants for hurricane recovery. So far the BRF has impressively raised more than $1.5 million. One of the grants will go to the Coney Recovers Initiative, a coalition of community development and human service groups in the neighborhood. The Coney Recovers Initiative plans to set up an office headquarters to organize longterm rebuilding and immediate needs and will provide job opportunities for local residents to help in the recovery. The other grant of $100,000 will go to the Red Hook Coalition. The RHC will use this money to give out micro-grants to small businesses, provide immediate social services, and support emergency food needs of residents. A coalition coordinator will also be hired to act as a liaison between the residents and government agencies. They will also set up a job training program. These grants were set up, according to the BRF, to “support the coordination of humanitarian services to residents as well as economic recovery activity for small businesses. The goal will be to build the capacity of neighborhood networks to help in the recovery and rebuilding effort and to strengthen the area against future crises.”
Photo by Strabanephotos