by NAG intern Jessica Podkalicki
On Monday, November 17 at 6:30 PM, the North Greenpoint Community Advisory Group (CAG) assembled at Dupont Street Senior Housing to discuss six major items of concern (mostly development projects) in the North Greenpoint area. The meeting was organized by Council Member Stephen Levin and his office and included community members and representatives from CB1 Environmental Committee, NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Newtown Creek Alliance, McGlorick Park Alliance, NYC Parks Department, NYC Office of Environmental Remediation, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and of course myself and NAG’s Environmental Community Organizer Jennie Romer. The agenda on that rainy evening included presentations on the status of the sludge tank demolition (by DEP), the construction of Greenpoint Landing (by Parks Tower Group), the plans for the Barge and Box Parks (by NYC Parks Department), and the status on remediation projects such as NuHart, 77 Commercial Street, and Barge and Box area parks (by NYS DEC and NYC OER).
The vast majority of the meeting focused on the first presentation by DEP regarding the demolition of Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant’s former sludge tank. After the presentation, several of the community members who were in attendance expressed their outrage at the lack of diligent operating and oversight procedures involved in the construction and other processes regarding the sludge tank demolition. One woman who lives next to the demolition site shared her story about the exposures that she and her family suffered. Specifically, she referenced ill-managed construction dust from the site, which ended up in the air to the extent that she said it visibly coated cars in the vicinity and causing severe allergic reactions among her family members.
The update on the Greenpoint Landing project was quick and to the point. The representative from the Parks Tower Group, the construction company responsible for the Greenpoint Landing development, explained that the construction was moving forward and ideas for the Greenpoint Landing (one of the ideas was for the old street names to be reinstated) were welcome. The next presentation was from the NYC Park Department on the status of two parks—Box Street Park and Newtown Barge Park. The process of surveying the areas has just begun—an environmental survey has been completed but the Parks Department delegate mentioned that a more thorough assessment would be necessary. Designs for both parks are also in the works and will be presented to the public in a month or so.
The final presentation by NYS DEC focused on the former NuHart Plastic Manufacturing Superfund site on Dupont Street (across the street from that evening’s meeting) and the remediation process currently taking place there. As a state-registered Superfund site, the NuHart site has reportedly just begun the remedial investigation phase, which would might place the actual cleanup process completion date somewhere at late 2015. Jane O’Connell, the Chief of the Superfund and Brownfield Cleanup Section at DEC, discussed the air monitoring plans for around the area. Lastly, Dan Walsh from the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation explained their current remediation projects which mostly center on what he called “historic fill.” These sites were either classified as Brownfields or at least had a similar cleanup process.
Overall, the meeting was a success because of the amount of people from the community that were in attendance. The meeting had a jam-packed agenda that was engaging to many of the community members. We look forward to future meetings (especially because there was a mention of a NuHart-specific Community Advisory Group meeting).