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Is the Lightstone-Sponsored Gowanus Canoe Race a Ploy?

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News has been floating around recently about a Gowanus Canal canoe race happening this Saturday, which seems like a fun and innocent, if potentially hepatitis-inducing, event. But according to the Save Gowanus Association, the race might not be so innocent after all, as one of its sponsors is the Lightstone Group, who are developing a 700-unit rental complex right next to the canal at 363-365 Bond Street. "Lightstone is trying to send the message out that it's safe to be in the canal and it's not as bad as everyone says," said one Save Gowanus member. The group organizing the event is a nonprofit called the Gowanus Dredgers, who, for some reason, really like canoeing around in a stagnant pool of toxic chemicals and human waste. A local environmental activist once let her kids go out on the canal with the Dredgers, leading to this, the most Gowanus sentence ever written:

She thought they were going to scoop water bottles and other trash out of the polluted waters, but instead her 6-year-old twins came back with bunches of used condoms that they thought were balloons. The Gowanus: Falling short of even your lowest expectations since 1849.

The Dredgers, for their part, say they'll have "plenty of soap, hoses, Purell and baby wipes" on hand, and others don't seem too concerned about the whole thing. "People being involved with the Gowanus Canal is only good," said John Lipscomb, the Riverkeeper boat captain who took us out on the canal last year. "What it does is move the bar up, and the bar never goes back down. The more the public is involved, the better it is for that waterway." He also compared the dangers of canoeing on the Gowanus to the dangers of biking on a city street, which is fair, but would be a more apt comparison if making bodily contact with a city street resulted a third arm growing out of your face.
· Critics Call Gowanus Canal Race Unsafe 'Political Ploy' to Help Developer [DNAinfo]
· Gowanus Canal coverage [Curbed]
· Lightstone coverage [Curbed]