New York City is a place where change is inevitable, and where change comes, real estate development follows. It would not be the place it is without it. However the political climate during the Bloomberg era hasput this into hyper drive.
I ran into my old friend Kim Masson, who is part of Save Greenpoint, a group that is spearheading the opposition to Greenpoint Landing. Their issues with the development are not just the obvious ones most people are aware of. This is not just about being opposed to new massive buildings that will drive up rents and change the face of the neighborhood. The implications here are far more drastic.
Greenpoint is a neighborhood that has already dealt with one of the largest oil spills in the history of oil spills, and countless environmental mini disasters. I want people to be more aware of this situation so I decided to interview Kim so she can break this all down.
• Did you know Greenpoint has a park called Sgt. William Dougherty Park? It’s right by the BQE on Meeker and Vandervoort Ave. Don’t get too attached, it will be closed for four years while the Kosciusko Bridge gets a major facelift (Brooklyn Paper)
• Watch out Levin, Pierson is talking nice to pedestrians and bikers. “Stephen Pierson, who is running against incumbent Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) in the Sept. 10 Democratic Primary for the seat in the 33rd Council District, has released a nine-point transportation plan he said will improve public safety” (Brooklyn Eagle)
• “Residents of the Greenpoint Hotel are fed up with their landlord and want him fined and arrested. Tenants rallied Wednesday outside the Brooklyn Housing Court to demand a safer living environment.” (Greenpoint Gazette)
Part of why Greenpoint is so special is because of our waterfront location. And while many still make disgusted faces when thinking of getting anywhere near the Newtown Creek or The East River, others are paddling up our local waterways and even fishing off our piers.
We still have a long way to go before we can even safely touch the water, but with more awareness and recreation on our waterways, the faster they will be cleaned up for future generations to enjoy.
City of Water Day, which is taking place this Saturday July 20th is “a celebration of the potential of the waterfront,” and lots of events are going on nearby.
While nothing specifically is organized on Greenpoint’s waterfront, enjoy a picnic in Transmitter Park or at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk or watch the sunset on the India St Pier or the Manhattan Ave Streetend Park. We have lots of waterfront access in Greenpoint.
If you want to travel to the other end of Brooklyn, Greenpointers who brought you the Newtown Creek Armada along with the Gowanus Dredgers & Brooklyn Atlantis are taking on our sister super-fund waterway, The Gowanus Canal with the Gowanus Voyage, an interactive public boat pond on the Gowanus Canal in which you can explore above and below the surface of this historic waterway by piloting miniature remote control boats and aquatic robots equipped with video cameras and environmental sensors. Gowanus Voyage will take place on Saturday, July 20th, from 1pm-6pm at the 2nd Street boat launch near Bond Street in Brooklyn and is presented with the support of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club. The rain date will be Sunday, July 21st.
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.
WEDNESDAY 6/26 Cancelled: Community Forum on Sexual Violence @ Greenpoint Church (136 Milton St) 7:30pm, the recent sexual assault in Greenpoint will be discussed as well as ways to create a community-based strategy for staying safe • Riders Alliance Happy Hour @ Dino (222 DeKalb Ave) 7-8pm, Drink good beer, sample fancy cocktails and find out more about the Riders Alliance and the fight for better transit in New York, RSVP • Heavy Metal Laser Plane Comedy Show @ Legion (790 Metropolitan Ave.) 8pm, Free, hosted by Tom Cowell and John Anderson, Comics Sean Donnelly, Christi Chiello, Matteo Lane, Monroe Martin III, RSVP
THURSDAY 6/27 * Community Workshop on Greenpoint Landing & 77 Commercial St @ Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant Visitor Center (329 Greenpoint Ave) 6:30-8pm, Free, Open to the public, to discuss what is “as-of-right” (per the 2005 Waterfront Rezoning), what is still negotiable, ULURP approval, RSVP ♫ Fucked Up / Title Flight / Hop Along @ House of Vans (25 Franklin St) 7pm, All ages, More info # “Beer & Cheese” with Janet Fletcher @ Diamond Bar (43 Franklin St.) 7pm, Meet the author, buy the book, $12 cheese and beer pairings ♫ Late night, Low Down Piano w/ Smokin’ Billy Slater @ Manhattan Inn (632 Manhattan Ave) 10:3pm, Free, sit back or dance it up while Smokin’ Billy Slater gets down and dirty on the white baby grand
FRIDAY 6/28 ♥ Summer Sour @ Brouwerij Lane (78 Greenpoint Ave) Thru Sunday, Pucker up! $25 flights ♦ Phaedo @ Storefront Bushwick (16 Wilson Ave) 6-9pm, featuring the work of ten abstract artists, title refers to the Platonic dialogue whose subject is the death of Socrates and the immortality of the soul, RSVP ♦ Showpaper Retrospective @ Market Hotel (1142 Myrtle Ave) 7-9pm, FREE, a complete retrospective of every issue printed over the last 6 years – an awesome opportunity to view the ENTIRE SERIES chronologically, Performance by Ashcan Orchestra at 8pm ♦ The End of the Beginning @ Calico (67 West St #206) 7-10pm, Season wrap and fundraiser party, free beer, RSVP ♫ Polish American Folk Dance Company 75th Anniversary Party @ Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave) 8:30pm-2:30am, $10, Music, entertainment, hot buffet, raffles, cash bar, RSVP ♫ Darlings / Juniper Rising / A. Rex & J. Rex / King Prom @ Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Ave) 8pm, $8
SATURDAY 6/29 • The Insalubrious Valley Walking Tour w/ Mitch Waxman (Grand St & Morgan Ave) 11am-2pm, $30, includes lunch, the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens where the industrial revolution happened provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration, More info # NYC Hog Days of Summer @ Domestic Construction (218 India St) noon-9pm, $30, Traditional North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ, Craft Beer Brewing & Heritage Pig Farming, Live Bluegrass, Benefits Just Food NYC, Buy Tix ♫ Endless Boogie / TV Baby / Degreaser @ Union Pool (484 Union Ave) 2pm, FREE ♫ First Annual Gay Pride Party @ Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave) 8pm-1am, FREE, music from DJs Lauren Flax (Creep), Amber Valentine (Misster, Scissor Sunday), performances by Amber Martin, Tyler Ashley, & Merrie Cherry (Dragnet), free Greenhook Gin cocktails 8-9pm, proceeds donated to Without Walls, RSVP at wythehotel.com ♦ Classic Bike Film Screening @ City Reliquary ( ) 8pm-12am, Join Harry Schwartzman, curator of “Strong Backs, Weak Minds – the saga of the Coney Island Velodrome,” for a screening of 2 classic films about 6-day racing – Joe E Brown’s ’6 Day Racer’ and ‘Open All Night’ a scandalous 1924 silent movie set in the swarmy world of the 6 day racer, More info
They will be screened outdoors and refreshments will be available for purchase. ♫ Quiet Clubbing Outdoors @ CitiStorage (5 North 11th St) 8pm-2am, $40 in advance, $50 at door, live DJ performances pumped into headphones on the waterfront, RSVP ♫ Crazy Pills / Dead Stars / The Suicide Dolls / Haybaby @ Big Snow (89 Varet St) 8pm, $7
SUNDAY 6/30 * Birding and Intertidal Zone Tour @ NBBC Boat Club (49 Ash St) 9am-noon, $20, Did you know that creeping along in a canoe is the best way to view the intertidal zone and view a heron unruffled? More info ♦ Build ‘Em Strong BBQ & Live Music YMCA Fundraiser @ The Cee Flat Gallery (988 Manhattan Ave 2nd Fl) 4-7pm, $20 at door, $15 in advance, an evening gallery experience and summer barbeque to benefit the work of the Ridgewood YMCA, More info
MONDAY 7/1 # Spaghett-It-On Mondays @ Adelina’s (159 Greenpoint Ave) 5-8pm, $7, pasta with Roman style Marinara sauce and a genesee beer
* Greenpointers’ Pick
♥ Pheremones likely
♦ Art Event
☺ Comedy Event
# Foodie Event
They can’t promise dolphins, but the North Brooklyn Boat Club is launching into 2013 and urging YOU! “land-lubbers,” to learn what will be happening both, on the water, and ashore, like: open paddles, intensive stroke instruction, safe boating practices, bird watching trips, building oyster and filter feeder habitats, organic gardening, urban camping, boat building and boatyard barbecues!
They had me at birds and barbecues…
Interested? Join NBBC on April 2nd, 8-10pm at Brooklyn Rod & Gun (59 Kent Ave) for a public meeting open to all.
Whether you are a new supporter, or were there at the very beginning, the Newtown Creek Alliance invites you to share this moment to commemorate the great work they have done, and recognize the important work ahead, tomorrow Wednesday November 28, from 7-9pm @ The Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave).
Considering how much funk is in the creek, you know it’s gonna be quite the jam.
*Refreshments will be served, and there will be a cash bar.
A dome of water would travel from Upper New York Bay, through Gowanus Harbor, and into the 1.5-mile-long Gowanus Canal near Smith and 9th Street. Once in the canal, it could stir up a heady mix of pollutants — essentially oil, heavy metals, and human excrement — and distribute it throughout the slowly gentrifying area that sits among some of Brownstone Brooklyn’s priciest neighborhoods.
The creek is overflowing and sewage is being released into the waterway, according to Stephen Levin. How will the toxic nature of the waterway affect local residents? And what is the city doing about it?
In addition to the known water quality issues on the Creek, there are dozens of brownfields, known plumes (Meeker Ave, Greenpoint Oil), State Superfund, Toxic Release Inventory sites, clustered in the flood plain of Newtown Creek. Your concerns are valid. The area lacks public infrastructure such as flood gates, that would help protect against soaking and mobilizing hazardous material – not to mention protect valuable creek front businesses that perform essential city services!
Of course we (not Kate Zidar) only think about these things when a huge storm is bearing down on us, residents are evacuating, and the water levels are surging. But now is a better time than any to raise awareness of these potentially hazardous situations.
In terms of the sewage treatment plant in Greenpoint, what happens when there is too much rain and flooding? It’s called a CSO (Combined Sewage Overflow). Rainwater and sewage, among other things (see below) are released into the local waterways.
That’s pretty disturbing, especially since the river is flooding our streets in Zone A. So all those metals, human waste and disease that may back up into the river, might end up on our sidewalks and in residents’ flooded basements.
CSOs contain raw sewage from homes, businesses and industries, as well as stormwater runoff and all the debris and chemicals that wash off the street or are poured in storm drains. This toxic brew can be unappealing and quite dangerous. CSOs contain untreated human waste, oxygen-demanding substances, ammonia, pesticides (such as malathion sprayed on the city to fight West Nile Virus), nutrients, petroleum products (from sources such as gas stations, auto repair shops, and garages), and other potential toxins and pathogenic microorganisms associated with human disease and fecal pollution…
Toxic metals and other hazardous substances come from industrial effluent, street runoff, and from households that contribute paints, oils, solvents and cleaners down the sink drain or storm drains in the street. Pesticides also wash off lawns and gardens into storm sewers.
Debris that washes off the streets or is flushed down toilets includes syringes, tampon applicators, and other plastic products.
We reached out to Stephen Levin to see what impact this can have on local residents and if there is a plan to safeguard us. His response:
At this point, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to prevent the Newtown Creek from overflowing. I was down there at noon today and the bulkhead at GMDC was already under water, and the water was a couple of feet short of overflowing onto Manhattan Ave. We are expecting a high tide tonight to coincide with the storm surge and that could mean a storm surge of 8-11 feet at Newtown Creek, which would obviously put Manhattan Ave under water.
DEP is already seeing Combined Sewer Overflows throughout the area, so everyone should treat any water overflowing from Newtown Creek as if it is contaminated with raw sewage. That means staying away from it, avoiding contact with your hands, and cleaning anything that comes into contact with it with bleach.
MOST IMPORTANT-if you live in Zone A (between Commercial St and the Creek, west of Manhattan Ave; between Dupont St and the Creek, east of Manhattan Ave) you need to evacuate ASAP. There will almost definitely be flooding from the Creek tonight that may go several blocks inland-DO NOT TAKE ANY CHANCES.
In addition to this, Kate Zidar said, “Advice to Greenpointers: Do not assume that standing water is clean. Do not play in it. Wear outside boots and leave those boots at the door.”
Kate added that in the long term, “the city needs to provide support for areas such as ours, in terms of investment in drainage and shoreline infrastructure, and area wide emergency planning that addresses the specific needs of industrial areas, and how this relates to adjacent residential areas.”
The 2nd Annual Greenpoint Film Festival begins this Thursday September 20, 2012 (186 Huron St) with a 6pm Opening Reception, a 7pm screening of Judy Lieff’s Deaf Jam, a look into the world of American Sign Language (ASL) Slam Poetry, followed by a Q&A with the director and an after party.
Screening continues Friday through Sunday at two locations: 186 Huron St & 329 Greenpoint Ave.
Aside from a full program, there is a Community Program on Saturday at 12pm that features The Domino Effect, a politically charged investigative documentary about the controversial plan to transform the Domino Sugar factory that includes conversations with longtime residents to reveal the impact gentrification has had on the community of North Brooklyn.
More screenings that hit home during the Environmental Program on Saturday at 2pm (329 Greenpoint Ave) include Leitner’sNewtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art of Human Waste, followed by Newtown, in which director Choi exposes the history and realities behind the Greenpoint Oil Spill.
Which screenings will you be attending during the Greenpoint Film Festival?