The proposed cleanup plan for the 3.55 acre-site that was formerly an oil refinery owned by ExxonMobil at 460 Kingsland Ave. has been submitted and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is accepting public comment on the plan through May 11th (details below).
A public meeting will also be held with representatives from NYDEC to discuss the cleanup on Tuesday, April 16, at PS 110 Monitor Elementary School (124 Monitor St.) at 6:30 p.m.
While the infamous Greenpoint oil spill, estimated to be between 17 and 30 million gallons, inundated the soil and groundwater with petroleum-related toxins at nearby lots to the North of 460 Kingsland Ave., “historical investigations did not encounter the Greenpoint petroleum plume” at the site, according to the NYDEC factsheet.
As of 2018, 12,972,637 gallons of petroleum product has been removed from Greenpoint, and ExxonMobil continues to remove the oil underneath the neighborhood.
The contaminants to be remediated at 460 Kingsland Ave. are “petroleum-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) found in soils and groundwater,” according to NYDEC.
Also to be remediated are a host of toxins including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, and PCBs are present in soils and in groundwater.
The site is zoned for heavy manufacturing and industrial use under M3-1 zoning, where a 29,000 square-foot one-story building currently stands and is leased out to multiple third-party businesses, including a trucking terminal.
An oil refinery and petroleum bulk storage facility operated at the site from approximately 1920 – 1966 and in 1967 the sire was purchased bt a freight company, according to the NYDEC factsheet.
The proposed cleanup includes:
A site cover that will allow for commercial and industrial use of the site;
Monitored natural attenuation (MNA) of contaminated groundwater. Groundwater will be monitored for site related contamination. Reports of the attenuation will be provided as a part of the site management.
An institutional control in the form of an environmental easement will be placed on the property that will restrict site to commercial and industrial uses.
A site management plan will be developed to ensure that the remedy is maintained and monitored regularly to fully protect human health and the environment.
NYSDEC is currently accepting written comments on the cleanup through May 11, 2019, contact:
Randy Whitcher, Project Manager NYSDEC 625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233 518-402-9662 [email protected]
A homemade anchor that was first reported to be a sea mine was discovered in Newtown Creek on Friday afternoon causing street closures, NBCNY reports. Sea mines are bombs used to sink and destroy ships and submarines; to prevent injuries, surrounding streets including the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge were shut down during the two-hour investigation.
FDNY was notified of a possible explosive device in Newtown Creek near Grand Street on Friday around 1 p.m. and a bomb containment squad was dispatched to the scene, according to NBCNY. Continue reading →
The Newtown Creek Alliance, Interval Projects and Evergreen Exchange are hosting a second visioning workshop for the “Gateway to Greenpoint” on Tuesday, March 5, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 520 Kingsland Ave. The meeting will give participants the opportunity to help plan the environmental development at the vacant lot at the corner of Greenpoint and Kingsland Avenues; RSVP here.
The 13,000 square-foot city-owned parcel is managed by the Dept. of Environmental Protection and was granted to the local community during the upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. Continue reading →
Williamsburg-based CRÈME introduced renderings of Timber Bridge at LongPoint Corridor: A 275-foot-long, 16-foot-wide, floating pedestrian and biking bridge made of sustainable glue-laminated and pressure-treated timber, to span Newtown Creek from Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint to Vernon Blvd in Long Island City.
The bridge is designed to have pivoting features to open and close in around 3 minutes for the many boats and barges on Newtown Creek, the 3.8 mile-long federal Superfund site that will undergo remediation over the next decade.
To prevent flooding, the bridges’ platform would move with the tide and have green spaces on either side. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that the bridge was the idea of Jun Aizaki, a 20-plus year North Brooklyn resident and Pratt Institute graduate.
Construction would take approx. two years and cost more than $32 million to build. LongPoint Bridge could potentially receive city funding and additional backing from private donors, such as Amazon, who the firm is exploring as a donor. The bridge is also backed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Assemblyman Joe Lentol; a newly registered nonprofit, Friends of Timber Bridge, is seeking to raise funds for the project.
A Kickstarter campaign by the design firm raised $30,266 last summer, which was short of the $50,000 goal. Momentum for the bridge may pick up with the anticipated localized tech industry boom led by the potential for Amazon to build HQ2 in Queens, bringing tens-of-thousands of new jobs and residents to the area served by the proposed bridge.
It’s February and Black History Month has started, a time when we recall the huge African-American contribution to our country. Ask many educated New Yorkers and you may find that they will have no idea of New York’s more than a century and a half of slavery.
The French Huguenot families who first settled Greenpoint were all slave owners who used their slaves to drain the swampy land and clear the brush so that they could farm the land. Dirck Volckertszen, the area’s original settler, brought the first slave to Greenpoint way back in 1645. Slavery in New York continued until 1827, so our area has a long history of enslaved labor.
We can only speculate about the lives of those enslaved Africans. William Felter, the author of the area’s first history, “Historic Greenpoint,” assures us that the first settlers not only treated their slaves well, but he also tells us that the slaves considered themselves as members of the family.
Recently I wrote a piece about the Penny Bridge, which spanned Newtown Creek from the foot of Meeker Avenue and about the Duryea family who occupied the house beside it for over 150 years. The Duryea’s might have been Huguenots who were fleeing persecution in France, but they were also people who enslaved African-Americans.
An amateur local historian, Dan Cumberland, dug up documents that show the brutal nature of local slavery and contradict the pleasant picture Felter paints of local slavery. The chilling ad below dates from the 1820s when the family advertised an enslaved 15-year-old boy for sale.
The claim that slaves were happy and considered themselves family members is refuted by another horrifying document offering a reward for an enslaved woman who ran away from the family farm and offering a six-cent reward for her capture.
The slave-owning Duryea’s were typical Brooklynites and slavery was widely practiced in King’s County. In 1698, 15 percent of the people in Kings County were of African descent, and virtually all were enslaved. By 1738, the percentage had risen to 25 percent. In 1790, that figure rose again with African Americans accounting for over 30 percent of Kings County’s population and most of these people were enslaved.
New York State gradually emancipated its slaves in large part because northern slavery proved unprofitable. New York lacked cash crops like cotton, sugar and tobacco that fueled the explosive growth of Southern slavery, but bondage played an important role in local history – a fact we should recall during Black History Month.
Registration opens tomorrow Thursday, Jan. 31 at 12 p.m., for the annual Valentines Day tour of the futuristic digester eggs at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The tour will be on Saturday, Feb. 9, with four different sessions at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.; more info is available here.
From the NYC Department of Environmental Protection:
The Digester Egg Tour starts with an overview of the wastewater treatment process—an essential part of protecting public health and NYC’s waterways. After, we treat guests to unobstructed views of the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens skylines from the observation deck, a glass-enclosed walkway built atop our state-of-the art digester eggs. Learn more about the Newtown Creek Digester Eggs.
The Digester Egg Tour starts at the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, located in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. We are easy to spot—just look for the bright orange building. The entrance is near the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and Humboldt Street at 329 Greenpoint Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11222.
Tours take place 3 times a year, in February, April and October, and are free and open to the public, ages 12 and older. Close-toed shoes are a must, and cameras are allowed!
Sister Francis Gerard Kress who Greenpointers profiled last year in its series on important local women passed away on January 17th in Brentwood, Long Island. She was 104 years old and was a nun for an amazing 87 years. Sister Francis, a beloved local figure, taught for many years at the Saint Anthony of Padua school (862 Manhattan Ave.), but it was her work as one of the first local environmentalists that is perhaps her greatest local legacy.
The future activist was born in Hells Kitchen in 1914 and by age ten she had already organized her first protest, a pot and pan demonstration of local children in favor of the first Catholic presidential candidate. She joined the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1932 and became an elementary school educator. In the 1960s, she arrived in Greenpoint, teaching local children who loved her charisma and energy in the classroom. In those days, Greenpoint was severely polluted with local residents at the time enduring a shockingly high cancer rate, but few locals knew the extent of the environmental damage.
In 1977, a plume appeared in Newtown Creek, the first evidence of a 15 million gallon oil slick that poisoned the surrounding earth. That same year Sister Francis, learning from a city bus driver about the spill, began to make inquiries among local residents. Discovering that almost everyone had a story about the black mayonnaise that oozed in Newtown Creek, she also learned about the spiking local cancer rate. She recalled that toxic fumes stained people’s clothes drying on the line outside and that it gave them headaches and made their children agitated, but locals simply lived with these dangers, but she was determined to take action. Continue reading →
Echo Glass Works at 253 Greenpoint Ave. offers a dazzling variety of one-of-a-kind custom glass jewelry, kiln cast glass, along with blown glass vessels that simply stun. However, this is not the first time that beautiful glass has been created in Greenpoint, which has a history of glass blowing dating back to the Civil War. One of the best-known glass factories in America in the 19th century was the Greenpoint Flint Glass Works located on Commercial Street.
The founder of the Greenpoint Flint Glass Works was an immigrant from Alsace, France Christian Dorflinger who set up his first glass blowing plants in downtown Brooklyn in 1852. Benefiting from growing demand for glass between 1856 and 1860, Dorflinger, looking to expand, constructed a new factory on the then undeveloped Newtown Creek at Commercial Street in Greenpoint. This factory was larger than his other two and also enjoyed a waterfront location with docking facilities. Because this area of Greenpoint was sparsely developed, Dorflinger also built housing near the factory for his workers, many of whom were also French immigrants.
Quickly, Dorflinger’s annual output reached $300,000, a huge sum for that era, and the quality of his glass was so highly regarded that Mary Todd Lincoln commissioned the Greenpoint firm to produce table settings for the White House. It helped to establish his company’s reputation for fine cut and engraved lead crystal. Many pieces of the Lincoln pattern glassware still remain in the White House collection today. Continue reading →
The Duryea House, a 240-year-old Greenpoint landmark, was sadly destroyed in the days before New York awakened to its own history. The original colonial structure stood on the banks of Newtown Creek until 1921, before it was demolished, an unpardonable offense to local history. No building in local history survived for as long as this piece of early colonial history.
The farmhouse at 418 Meeker Ave was built about 1681; the lower part was constructed of stone with defensive features that allowed the residents to shoot at their Native American enemies who were still a feared presence locally at the time of its construction.
Humphrey Clay, for whom some believe our Clay street is named, operated a ferry across Newtown Creek near the building as early as 1670 and Clay probably erected the Duryea house. In later times a primitive bridge crossed the creek and after 1812, the Newtown and Bushwick Road Company, which was incorporated in 1814, built a bridge on piles. In 1836 the Newtown Road Company Bridge and Turnpike Company was incorporated and built a toll upon stone piers and constructed a shell road through Bushwick. This road was once known as the North Road, but now is Meeker Avenue. The charge to cross the bridge was a penny, hence it was dubbed “The Penny Bridge.” Continue reading →
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been intensely lobbying Amazon to locate its HQ2 in Long Island City. Gov. Cuomo jokingly offered to rename Newtown Creek ‘Amazon Creek’ on the condition that the corporate giant agreed to choose LIC. He even humorously offered to change his name to ‘Amazon Cuomo’ to entice the corporate giant to choose Long Island City.
It seems that Cuomo’s intense lobbying may have borne fruit, according to a Monday report in the New York Times. The Times reports that Amazon has decided not to create one mega headquarters, but to divide the new headquarters in two. One of those locations, according to the article is in LIC. The other location Amazon has chosen is Crystal City, Virginia, in the greater Washington D.C. Area. The Times, however, did strike a cautionary note, though, stating that the company has made no final decision. Continue reading →