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Gowanus Park Is Spared, But City Plans to Seize Nearby Land for Canal Cleanup

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The city has four years to acquire the land through eminent domain

The Gowanus Canal cleanup is finally moving forward, but it's going to be a messy process getting there, the Brooklyn Paper reports. The city has decided to go forth with eminent domain proceedings to acquire private property along the canal where the Environmental Protection Agency will install sewage tanks to carry out the cleanup.

An earlier plan called for the installation of the sewage tanks below the public pool at Thomas Greene Park. Local residents were opposed to the plan since it would mean the closure of one of the few green spaces in the neighborhood for several years.

The city has four years to acquire the property from the current owner Alloy Development, according to Brownstoner. Alloy had earlier offered half of its land for the cleanup equipment, to avoid a costly legal undertaking, but the city rejected that proposal. If that falls through, the EPA will move forward with the plan to install the tanks below the pool.

Regardless the pool will have to close at some point during the remediation process due to the contamination below the site. Moving the sewage cleanup tanks elsewhere simply shortens that process to four years instead of nine, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

"The New York City Parks Department prefers not to have a large sewage retention tank permanently located in a city park," Judith Enck, the EPA Regional Administrator, said in a press release. "The EPA is also committed to preserving urban parkland and therefore spent time working with the City of New York about an alternate location. This proposed location meets the EPA’s twin goals of cleaning up the canal while also protecting urban parkland."

The plans haven't been finalized yet as the agency has to allow a public comments period, which it will continue until May 16. The EPA is also organizing a public meeting on April 25 to provide details on the project.

The Canal was declared a superfund site in 2010, and a few years later the EPA announced a $504 million cleanup effort of the site. The remediation is unlikely to get underway until sometime in 2019.

The EPA will hold a public meeting on April 25 at P.S. 32 located at 317 Hoyt St., Brooklyn, N.Y. at 6:30 p.m