Newtown Creek

What’s that Smell? Dredging Party Boat!

Get in line for the cruise of your life...the sludge boat

How many people can say that they live in a neighborhood that has scheduled dredging? That’s something to brag about, kind of like when you have a really disgusting, oozing leg wound that you really want to show people, just to prove to them that it’s super gross.

Beginning this week, the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection will run a 6 week process of removing the “sediment and debris” that collects under Newtown Creek. That’s a nice way of saying runoff trash, sewage, and whatever else drifted from the streets (dead rats? needles? chicken nuggets?) and decided to solidify on the bottom of our very own urban waterway. Some lovingly call it “black mayonnaise,” which to clarify, is not the name of an artisanal sandwich spread or an underground EDM festival. Continue reading

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New Proposal Wants to Map Greenpoint’s Toxic Sites

Boat on Newtown Creek.
This boat chilling in Newtown Creek doesn't seem to mind a little oil. Or a lot.

One of the first things I learned after moving to Greenpoint in 2011 was that The Mark Bar gives out free bagels on Sundays. Or at least they used to. (Does this still happen? Asking seriously). The second thing I learned was that Newtown Creek, which I walk over every day to get to the 7 train, is home to one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history. Over the last couple of decades anywhere from 17 to 30 million gallons of oil have escaped from ExxonMobil’s refinery and storage facilities underneath Greenpoint and leaked into the soil and water surrounding North Brooklyn. Continue reading

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Greenpoint is About to Get a Whole Lot Greener Thanks to First Round of GCEF Grant Recipients

Courtesy of Java Street Community Garden

On Friday, the first small grants from the Greenpoint Community Evironmental Fund‘s (GCEF) $19.5 million were awarded to 18 environmental improvement projects in the neighborhood. The funds are ExxonMobil’s retribution for spilling 17-30 million gallons of crude oil into Newtown Creek. Thanks, Exxon!

This initial round of funding amounts to $395,000 (between $5,000 and $25,000 per project with matching funds), and encompasses high-quality, locally-led initiatives that will enhance open space, green the hood, and improve environmental education. Continue reading

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Sweat Lodge on the Shore of the Newtown Creek via Urban Spa Organics

Sweatlodge on the Newtown Creek

Peter T, our health and wellness reporter, will be participating in this exclusive Greenpoint natural spa event he found on craiglist, and taking place on the banks of the Newtown Creek. It’s such a gem I am reposting it in its entirety:

Urban Organics™-The Survival Spa

Enjoy a total immersion health and wellness spa experience on the banks of the humble and gritty Newtown Creek, a narrow waterway separating Brooklyn from Queens, in New York City. Steeped in history and a century of environmental abuse the creek is a symbol of opportunity and a place for urban, nature enrichment. Come with us as we harvest the bounty that the placid shores of the Newtown creek yields. Learn how to reuse, recycle, and repurpose many of the things found along the way into useful, effective solutions for everyday health and wellness needs. Continue reading

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Save the Date! CAG Meeting (2/6)

Mark your calendars, Greenpointers. The next Newton Creek Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting is coming up soon on Thursday 2/6 at the McCarren Play Center (776 Lorimer, right near the pool) at 6:30pm.

The meeting with feature presentations from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the lovely folks who are in charge of our own little Superfund site.  They’ll discuss the city’s role in the Superfund process, upcoming plans for Newtown Creek drainage (mmm!), and all the other fun-filled  aspects of environmental restoration along the creek.

So if talking about toxicity and soil remediation really gets you going, save the date. We’ll be right there with you.

 

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TEDx Gowanus (1/26) and What It Means For Greenpoint

Our sister hood, Gowanus is jumping on the TEDx wagon this month, hosting the first ever TEDx Gowanus next week. With gentrification, toxic waters, and an industrial past, we have a lot in common with our sludgy Southern friends, so what can we take away from this day of presentations, lectures, and performances?

The theme is “Inspiring Communities,” so of course, that’s something we can get behind. Here are some highlights to check out: Continue reading

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Greenpoint Landing “One Gigantic Brownfield Site”: If You Care About Greenpoint – Sign This Petition Now!

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.

After you read this please sign the petition!   Continue reading

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IS318 Wins!, Sgt. William Dougherty Park To Close, Levin vs. Pierson, Free Events, Exorcise Pool, Greenpoint Hotel – The Hook-Up: 8/5

Artwork by Tamara Garvey

• Hurray! IS318 “The Brooklyn Castle” Chess Team reached their goal of raising $67,785! That doesn’t mean you can’t still make a donation!

• 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)

• If you can stand to venture out of Greenpoint, here are 18 Free Things to Do This Week in Brooklyn (Brokelyn)

• Would you swim in a pool that uses water diverted from the Newtown Creek? The future (theoretically) is the Exorcise Pool… (DNAinfo)

• “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)

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Cardboard Kayak Race & Gowanus Voyage: Celebrate City of Water Day! (7/20)

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.

The main events take place between 10am – 4pm on Governors Island and Liberty State Park in NJ, but many neighborhoods are participating as well.

The North Brooklyn Boat Club is paddling to Governor’s Island, where lots of fun events like a cardboard kayak race (and overnight camping) are taking place! NBBC’s paddling spots are full, but you can meet them there by taking the ferry over to Governors Island.

You can also reserve a spot on a free boat tour around the city.

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.

Happy Water Day!

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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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