As mentioned earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering adding the Gowanus Canal to its list of Superfund sites, which would allow the federal agency to swoop in and go to work at cleaning up the contaminated industrial waterway. The Times has more on this possibility today, and you'd think that those with a stake or interest in the Gowanus Canal would be excited about the EPA's involvement. After all, the feds have the money and resources to make a serious dent in the glorified sewer's toxicity. Well, you'd be wrong.
The Brooklyn Paper reports that Toll Brothers, the developer looking to building a large mixed-use project along the canal that includes 575 apartments, want the EPA to keep their hazmat suits to themselves. Superfund clean-ups take years, and the company says it can't afford to wait (Toll wants to break ground later this year). Oh, and there's also the hit to marketing, according to a Toll spokesperson: "The adjacent properties will have this stigma of being located on a Superfund site, and I don't think any rational businessperson would invest money in a property that has that kind of stigma attached to it." The stigma of luxury housing built on the banks of a stinking cesspool, however, is apparently acceptable.
Surely the activists are pleased with the Superfund news, right? Not quite. The Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the group wishing to turn the canal into a bucolic paradise dubbed Sponge Park, issued the following statement:
The Gowanus Canal Conservancy is concerned whether the EPA's proposed Superfund listing will have a chilling effect on currently planned clean-up efforts from local and state environmental agencies. We trust that the EPA's involvement will not adversely affect plans for the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park. The Sponge Park is the Gowanus Canal Conservancy's design for a public park and walkway running most of the length of the waterway. This offers to remediate many of the water and run-off issues. We are concerned for the residents and local artists who call the Gowanus neighborhood "home" and the disruption this could cause to their everyday existence.Might these seemingly opposing sides team up to keep the EPA's clean-up crews away from the Gowanus Canal? Stranger things have happened. Wait, no they haven't.
· Gowanus Canal, Polluted for Many Decades, May Become Superfund Site [NYT]
· Toll Bros: We can’t build if feds take over Gowanus Canal cleanup [BK Paper]
· Feds to Gowanus Canal: You Stink [Curbed]