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Bizarrely Timed 'Gowanus Green' Hearing Nearly Secret

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Compared to the furor over the relatively small 360 Smith development and the relatively violent reaction to the Toll Brothers Gowanus Canal development plans, Carroll Gardens has remained relatively silent about the huge (up to 1,500 unit) 'Gowanus Green' development planned for a hideously toxic parcel of land between Smith Street and the Gowanus Canal. Earlier this year, a development group led by the Hudson Companies was selected to develop the site, then the size of the project was quietly doubled (from 774 units of housing to up to 1,500) when an adjacent property owner decided to join Gowanus Green, doubling the size of the mixed use development. What pissed off a lot of residents, though, was that an important hearing was scheduled for 5:30PM yesterday during prime holiday party season with almost no public notice (well, there was an email over the weekend.)

Even strong supporters of the project privately voiced bitter objections to the way the project was handled suggesting the city was trying to avoid community input on what has been an oddly uncontroversial project, given its size and the toxicity of the site. The original plan for the site, as far back as 35 years ago, was to have it as public open space, which would among other things reduce the risk that would be faced by people who would live on a site so polluted it will be impossible to totally clean up.

Ironically, the way the city handled the "scoping" hearing--which is held to determine how the environmental impact statement will be conducted--may have ended up creating extra opposition. Blogger PMFA, who is not a fan of the project, attended and reports:

The last place I wanted to be last night at 5 PM was at the Public Place Scoping meeting held by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. However, I knew that the meeting would be sparsely attended, so I walked down to Brooklyn Borough Hall to represent the community. I am glad I did. Most certainly due to the fact that the meeting was scheduled so close to the holidays and the fact that it had only really been publicized late last week, hardly any members of the public showed up to comment on the Scoping Document for the Public Place Environmental Impact Statement. There were however those Carroll Gardeners who did take time from their busy schedules at this time of year to speak last night. Amongst the points raised by members of the community as well as by representatives of our elected officials were:
- the need to take the entire rezoning of the Gowanus Canal area into consideration
- to study the effect on the community of the various developments that have a similar timeline as 'Gowanus Green' so that all the projected figures can be considered in their entirety.
- to put in place an ongoing health study to ensure the safety of the area and procedures for the perpetual monitoring of the remediated area for any latent surfacing of pollution.
- the need to consider the context of the neighborhood
- the impact on our schools and subways.

The detox of the site itself by National Grid is expect to take up to three years and will most likely use the controversial cap and cover method in which the crap that's left is covered over and sealed off with something that's like a high tech vinyl pool liner. Gowanus Green/Public Place was the site of a Manufactured Gas Plant, which leaves behind a magnificent stew of underground toxins. The clean up process is certain to set neighborhood juices flowing.
· Last Night at the Gowanus Green Public Scoping Meeting [PMFA]