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.
This small area behind the Wastewater Treatment Plant was once home to the Greenpoint garbage incinerator, Grease and Compound Works (a lube manufacturer), Whale Creek, and nearby Standard Oil refineries. The full study (PDF) is available on the NCA website.
Allocco Recycling neighbors the site to the east and wants to join in the effort to upkeep the park and marshland where possible.
Elkins and his team named the area “No Name Inlet” for the time being. Given the history of pollution from the adjacent lube plant and garbage incinerator, soil samples will eventually be tested for contaminants.
In April 2015, NCA held a mapping event at the proposed site where a GPS device helped to draw the boundaries.
To get an aerial view, a GPS device was launched into the air, attached to a weather balloon.
The team who is working on the project includes Dr. Sarah Durand, Associate Professor of Biology at LaGuardia Community College, who leads bio-remediation efforts on the creek along the Nature Walk with planter boxes of Spartina.
Armed with a ray of hope for the otherwise murky and polluted creek, Dr. Durand and Elkins have seen preliminary success with their Living Dock project.
The floating ecosystem comprised of marine plants and ribbed mussels gives hope that a large and more permanent home for once-native wildlife may soon become reality.
“We want to revitalize this area for the natural ecosystem and for the local industry,” Elkins said.