Alright Greenpointers, the time has come. Tomorrow and Saturday we get to vote on how the next installment of the $19 million Exxon-Mobil settlement funds gets spent. As of present, the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF) has already doled out $395,000 in small grants. Now it’s time for the GCEF to bust out the big knife and slice up bigger pieces of the pie for the large and legacy grants.

While I want to be super excited about the projects coming down the pike, because all this is for the betterment of Greenpoint after all (!), as a resident I get little weary when I see non-Greenpoint corporations and city agencies sticking their pudgy hands out for a piece of the pie. But nevertheless, we’ve got important decisions to make.

So out of love for Greenpoint, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at both sides of the coin–the winners and some notable losers of this latest preferencing round, so that we can make an informed decision come this Thursday and Saturday. For more details about the selection process and projects involved, hit up the GCEF website. 


Voting will be held at the Polish Slavic Center 177 Kent Street Thursday, November 20, 12-2:30 & 6:00-8:00pm. On Saturday, November 23, 10:00am-3:00 pm head on over to the Polish National Home “Warsaw” 261 Driggs Avenue. *Please bring your license or some form of i.d. to voting centers as proof of residence.*

Let’s start with a brief overview of the winning projects that need our votes:


AirCasting Greenpoint: Citizen Science for Clean Air—Habitat Map       

Funds Requested: $235,388

Matching Funds: $893,508

What it’s all about: This research project will equip Greenpointers with wearable sensors and smartphones for recording, mapping, and sharing air quality information. The project goal is to ultimately reduce the exposure to fine air particulates by 20% based on the information gathered.

Curb Your Litter—Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce 

Funds Requested: $569,145

Matching Funds: $269,980

What it’s all about: Curb Your Litter will analyze Greenpoint’s litter issues, involve residents and local businesses in cleanup days, and conduct anti-litter campaigns. The goal is to install more trash bins in underserved areas and improve our hoods solid waste infrastructure.

West Street Watershed Stormwater Project—Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Inc.

Funds Requested: $1,917,717

Matching Funds: $5,030,000

What it’s all about: Design and install 54 bioswales and green streets along the 10 blocks that slope towards the East River along West Street. Conveniently located near where the new towers are going to be constructed, these pretty flowered bioswales intend on capturing over 6 million gallons of water annually that contributes to the sewage overflow into Newtown Creek and the East River.

Greening Greenpoint—City Parks Foundation

Funds Requested: $1,950,719

Matching Funds: $1,958,786

What it’s all about: The trees and lots of them. Over 3 years the City Parks Foundation intends to plant 500 new street and park trees, remove impervious concrete surrounding 675 exisiting tree beds and teach kids from local schools how to become tree stewards. This new canopy of green leaves will ultimately eliminate 13,000 pounds of local air pollution.

Greenpoint Business Environmental Stewardship—NYS Pollution and Prevention Institute @RIT

Funds Requested:   $402,202

Matching Funds: $364,601

What it’s all about: Work with local businesses like Acme Fish and Grady’s Homebrew to identify pollution and implement environmental improvements for their operations. Specific focus is on manufacturing operations and aid in the reduction of their environmental impact on the neighborhood.

Greenpoint Eco Schools: Creating a Legacy of Sustainability—National Wildlife Federation

Funds Requested: $1,434,735

Matching Funds: $10,732,324

What it’s all about: Implement an environmental educational program in 4 Greenpoint Schools. Funding will support 4 lucky full-time “Sustainability Coaches” who will work with students, teachers and parents about environmental issues. The money will also go to upgrading school equipment with energy effecient boilers, improve lighting and waste management. Each school will also receive $5,000 bucks a year for a “community action project”.

Solar One’s Green Design Lab Environmental Education Program—CEC Stuyvesent Cove Inc.

Funds Requested: $201,505

Matching Funds: $45,000

What it’s all about: An interactive student led environmental education program involving 1,200 students for 15 months. Educators from Solar One will work with schools once a week, up to 4 classes a day, instructing students with hands-on activities—e.g. Conducting school walks aimed at identifying reducing electricity  waste.

Greenpoint Community Green Roof—Newtown Creek Alliance

Funds Requested: $1,229,000

Matching Funds: $407,007

What it’s all about: Install a 40,300 sqft green roof on top of Automotive Highschool. The green roof will serve as an educational space, retain over 75,000 gallons of stormwater, increase biodiversity through local ecology, reduce “urban-island heat” and potentially lower the operating cost of the school.

Grow Greenpoint Project—GrowNYC

Funds Requested: $450,000

Matching Funds: $287,500

What it’s all about: Building a 7500 sqft demonstration garden inside McCarren Park modeled after a typical Greenpoint backyard intended to engage folks in environmental stewardship. The funding will also provide bioswales inside the park to capture 252,000 gallons of stormwater.

Greenpoint Environmental Education Center at the Greenpoint Library—Brooklyn Public Library

Funds Requested: $5,000,000

Matching funds: $ $6,030,300

What it’s all about: Build a LEED certified Educational Center with a green roof and a 200 sqft composting center which is designed to be an outdoor classroom. The center will act as an environmental education hub for Greenpoint, which in addition to promoting environmental stewardship, the library will also conduct workshops during and after construction to promote green building practices.

Intertidal Wetland Project—Research Foundation of CUNY LaGuardia Community College

Funds Requested: $130,178

Matching Funds: $130,911

What it’s all about: To assess and restore degraded shoreline sites along Newtown Creek and increase the number of salt marsh areas. The goal of the project intends to take eroded bulkheads and re-create natural habitats/refuges for native birds, shellfish and insects etc.

Box Street Park Construction—City Parks Department

Funds Requested: $1,999,000

Matching Funds: $1,999,000

What it’s all about and why it’s a sham: Anyone who has lived in Greenpoint long enough knows the 2.81 acre of soon to-be developed land known as Box Street Park has had a long run with funding issues. Prior to 2008, city coffers had $14 million dollars secured for the park. After the financial crash that $14 million magically disappeared.  Fast forward to last year and the city swindled Greenpointers by the contentious sale of air-rights to the next door developer at 77 Commercial St.  In exchange for the air-rights, the developers paid the city $8 million dollars to develop Box St Park and the developers got the right to build two 40 story towers which the hood vehemently opposed.  How they can come back and ask for more money is beyond egregious it’s straight maddening.

Greenpoint’s Southern most park: Acquisition, Remediation & Development

Funds Requested: $3,000,000 

Matching Funds: $6,000,000

What it’s all about and why it’s another sham: Back in 2005 when our waterfront was rezoned from industrial to residential, a deal was struck to open up the waterfront and give Greenpoint acres of desperately needed parkland–as stipulated in a Points of Agreement contract between residents and the city. Bushwick Inlet Park was part of this designated green space, but the city needed to acquire the land first. The city dragged its feet, forgot about us for years, and when it came time to actually get the park going, the price of the land was too expensive to purchase and the park was stalled for years. Part of Bushwick Inlet was obviously developed, but now the Parks Department wants its hands in the honey pot to scoop up the rest of the land which was already supposed to be bought by our designated taxpayer money years ago. Something stinks in Greenpoint and for once it isn’t the digester eggs, that stench sure smells like bureaucratic greed to me.

Now on to some notable losers to see what community-based projects Greenpointers are missing out on:

HOPES: A health outreach and environmental survey program which would give folks free home health kits to test their environments, provide technical assistance to read all those funky scientific sheets-whether that be from a developer or your own apartment, and connect folks with medical experts who can help establish healthier living environments. In addition, the project would create a comprehensive map of Greenpoint’s land using historic data so we could see exactly what is going on under our feet. Full disclosure–I was a part of this project and was told community health was not enough of an “environmental benefit” to qualify for the preferencing. Simply mind boggling.

The Greenpoint Bioremediation Project: Residents could get their soil tested and if contaminants were detected, the project would use different techniques such as composting and planting sunflowers and/or mushrooms to clean the soil naturally. One of the goals would be to prove bioremediation can be used to effectively clean contaminants from the ground at a low-cost and be minimally invasive to the surrounding areas.

The Manhattan Avenue Floating Wetlands Pilot Program: At the end of Manhattan Ave two 5ft by 8ft floating islands comprised of wetland and marsh grass would be installed at exisiting bulkheads. The marsh grass would monitored to evaluate the pollution captured in order to treat sewage that runs off from streets during hard rains. Also the floating marshes would serve as habitats for the bird population

There you have it folks, what is up for voting and what could have been. Either way, this is a great and rare opportunity to do something really special for the neighborhood. We all need to get informed and be engaged.




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