Newtown Creek Alliance

Local Industry Is Making Brooklyn Great Again — The Hook-Up 4/1

A rendering of Amalgamated Drawing Office.
A rendering of Amalgamated Drawing Office.
Everyone groaned when BMW leased the former Brooklyn Night Bazaar space, but it looks as though the dealership is actually doing something really cool with the space/probably trying a little too hard to do Brooklyn right/might still deserve the benefit of the doubt for now. “Amalgated Drawing Office” will feature a restaurant, retail design store, co-working space, and start-up accelerator. One thing it definitely won’t be is an automotive space, but “design” is apparently an open-ended concept for the time being.
 
Speaking of maker spaces, North Brooklyn is getting its first new privately-financed manufacturing/industrial space in 40 years. 25 Kent will soon be home to its own version of Industry City.
 
After one month and 19 burglaries, it seems as though police have finally caught one of the suspects involved in a rash of break-ins across North Brooklyn. Security footage suggests they entered a lot of (unlocked, why?) apartments at night, taking cash, electronics and other valuables. While his accomplice is still at large, and for forever after, remember to lock your non-suburban doors.
 
Like textiles and feminism? Good. This Sunday, there’s a stitch-in happening at Bushwick Inlet Park to raise awareness for abortion rights. That’s one stitch for every one of the 5.4 million women of reproductive age in Texas.
 
Bioremediation workshops are coming to Greenpoint. Details are still to come, but the Newtown Creek Alliance will be laying down some knowledge on urban soil, harnessing beneficial microorganisms with compost tea, and mycoremediation (that’s using fungi for remediation).
 
Blooms are blooming, and the Greenway is showing the first signs of life. The two-way bike lane that’s been three years in the making is finally in the construction phase on West Street.
 
While things are popping, other things are drawing to a close. Verboten just got shut down. Fraud, mismanagement, sexual harassment and racism weren’t the official reasons, though. The government seized the property over unpaid taxes.
 
Are countdown clocks finally coming to the G Train? Gothamist spotted some suspicious-looking packages at the Classon stop. If you see something, say something.
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It’s Time to Speak up About That Proposed Toxic Water Bubble Plant

We in Greenpoint know better than to swim in the toxic, bacteria-laden Newtown Creek. We might soon be exposed to the contents of the creek regardless through a proposed aeration plant that would go in the Dutch Kills area of the creek.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comment on the matter through Monday, April 4, and the Newton Creek Alliance drafted a letter in strong opposition  (PDF) to the current plan.

Aeration Map via Newtown Creek Alliance

The process of aeration increases the water’s oxygen content levels to support marine plants and fish, which were depleted after a century’s worth of industrial pollution and wastewater overflow. The air bubbles travel from installed pipes at the bottom of the creek, releasing oxygen bubbles — but the air doesn’t stop there.

A 2012 study by researchers at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found that the air bubbles transfer bacteria to the air near English Kills, an especially contaminated mile-long area of the creek in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A pilot aeration system was launched at English Kills in 2009. Continue reading

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A Little-Known Newtown Creek Access Point Takes Shape

Site location of the future project on North Henry Street in Greenpoint via Newtown Creek Alliance
Site location of the future project on North Henry Street in Greenpoint via Newtown Creek Alliance

If you walk along Greenpoint Avenue toward Queens, you will eventually approach North Henry Street, which appears to be a private road for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. A little-known fact is that the street is open to the public and leads to a city-owned Newtown Creek access point.

This access point — and the plans to revitalize once-thriving marshlands — were discussed last week at Sunview Luncheonette in Greenpoint. Willis Elkins, program manager at the Newtown Creek Alliance, presented his team’s “18 months of historic analysis” and forward-looking vision for the decrepit shoreline. While the plans are still in their early stages, NCA’s goal is to reintroduce an ecosystem that can also provide natural protection against rising waters. Continue reading

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Newtown Creek Pollution and Monsanto’s Roundup Pose Double-Duty Health Concerns for Greenpointers

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Newtown Creek as seen from the Pulaski Bridge. Photo by Laura Apperson

Recent city investigations have revealed new information about two major health concerns for Greenpoint residents: details on the contaminants—and the plans for clean-up—in one of the nation’s most polluted waterways, Newtown Creek; and the locations of and possible health problems associated with Monsanto’s potentially cancer-causing Roundup, which can be found in many of Greenpoint’s green spaces.

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A Streetcar Named Whose Desire, Exactly? — The Hook-Up 2/12

Photo: Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector
Photo: Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector

Is it the Streetcar Named Desire for the people of New York, or is de Blasio’s proposed streetcar linking Brooklyn and Queens a developer’s fantasy in the making? In either case, here’s what we know so far.

We know slightly more about the L Train Shutdown than we did last week. Brace yourselves, because it seems as though “1 year vs. 3 years” was a generous estimate.

It only took a year, but the reports from the CitiStorage fire investigation have been wrested into public view by The Brooklyn Paper. The fire was allegedly sparked by a light fixture, subdued, and then reignited. Kind of weird that department reps maintained their line that the investigation was ongoing, even though investigators signed off on the report on Jan. 8. Continue reading

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Walter White Coffee, Development Sagas, & Life in Newtown Creek — The Hook-Up 10/16

Here's your flat white, bitch. (Via Kickstarter)
Here’s your flat white, bitch. (Via Kickstarter)

Greenpoint Avenue is a Bike Blockers clusterfuck, according to WNYC. Most of us might be willing to make exceptions for vans delivering smoked salmon, however.

Perhaps fitting that owner Deniz Kosan chose our charming toxic wasteland as the proper setting for his Breaking Bad-themed Turkish coffee shop, but a Walter’s Coffee Roastery may just provide some pleasant smells for once.

Not convinced that life can prosper in Newtown Creek? Come down to the Newtown Creek Alliance’s North Henry Street location this Sunday afternoon (from 12-4) to check out its Living Dock project. Greenpointers will be on the scene to provide verified coverage of this scientific marvel. Continue reading

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What Lurks Under the Pulaski Bridge? A Dose of Greenpoint History

Mitch gestures from the Pulaski Bridge
Mitch gestures from the Pulaski Bridge

 

“I’m gonna keep you alive, I promise!” says Mai Armstrong, member of Newtown Creek Alliance.

It’s Saturday morning – a scorcher, by the way – and a group of 31 culture enthusiasts from all over New York have assembled by St Anthony’s Church for a free two-hour guided walk of Newtown Creek (and environs) as part of Jane’s Walk NYC. One woman, an ex-resident, has brought her two daughters from Manhattan to check out the old ‘hood.  It’s a beautiful day, and we bristle with anticipation. Continue reading

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WTF is Plank Road?

A black-crowned night heron.  Several swallows, cormorants, and geese.  One lone white duck.  These were some of the birds seen on this Saturday’s canoe trip to Plank Road, which was a collaboration between the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) and the North Brooklyn Boat Club.  The paddlers, many out for their first trip on New York’s waterways, remarked on the stunning juxtaposition of active and crumbling industrial sites alongside a very living, if troubled, ecosystem.   They traveled up the Newtown Creek and met up with a land-based group to hear from historian Mitch Waxman about this peculiar site that the NCA is looking to revamp in the coming months.

Mitch Waxman speaks about the history of Plank Road. Photo credit NBBC

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We Survived! Birding Canoe Trip on Newtown Creek (Video)

Thanks to Newtown Creek Alliance and North Brooklyn Boat Club for organizing this fun canoe trip on the Newtown Creek. While nature in the way of lush forests and crystal clear running streams is far from the scenery along this industrial waterway, “nature has returned to the creek,” our guides explained, which is a good sign.

Among the many birds we spotted were cormorants, swallows, cardinals, a great egret, an entire flocks of cormorants, a catbird and a few geese who were demonstrating a curious behavior of swimming along the creek’s edge with their necks down low on the water.

We were very excited to also see blue crabs, oysters, small fish and jelly fish!

I won’t say it didn’t smell, in some parts worse than others. Mostly they were industrial gas and crude oil smells. There was a lot of garbage floating, capri sun containers, potato chips bags, tampons, and I won’t say that I didn’t cringe every time even the most minuscule drop splashed on my arm or even worse right near my lips.

When I asked Jens of NBBC what would be the protocol if someone fell in and swallowed a mouthful of water, he said he would recommend getting a Hepatitis test since the biggest pollutant on the creek nowadays is human excrement.

The most striking feature of the tour was when we canoed up to a partition between the creek and a combined sewage overflow, CSO area. That is where rainwater mixed with sewage from the treatment plant overflows after heavy rain. The water on our side of the partition was very clear, protected from – wait for it – “floatables.” On the other side, where an unknowing egret was hunting, was thick putrid sludge leading from the huge overflow pipe.

When we returned to the boat club dock I was never so excited to wash my hands, especially the spot of water that turned brown on my arm.

Canoeing up the creek is something that everyone should experience, at least once. If not for the birds – for the reality check. Modern conveniences like toilets and sanitation make us forget the impact we have on our own environment. While the creek is on its way to becoming a less vile place, it’s still the toilet of NYC, and we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it, especially since it is becoming a viable place for our own native fauna.

Bonus: Laura Hoffman, locally famous environmental hero for Greenpoint, who was a plaintiff in a 2004 lawsuit against ExxonMobil for contamination of Greenpoint and the Newtown Creek that won $19million for an environmental projects fund, was on the same canoe trip! I was honored to finally meet her.

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