Newtown Creek

Creek, Camera, Controversy — The Hook-up (11/24)

While you were out for Thanksgiving, Marvel and Netflix were in Greenpoint. Via Untapped Cities
While you were out for Thanksgiving, Marvel and Netflix were in Greenpoint. Via Untapped Cities

Happy Thanksgiving, Greenpoint! Wondering what was happening around town as you were gearing up for the holiday? Read on to find out!

Good thing you’re reading this after the meal, since first up is a story about overflowing sewage. Last Wednesday, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection held a public meeting regarding the City’s efforts to curb sewage overflow into places like Flushing Bay, the Bronx River, the Harlem River and our very own Newtown Creek. Over 100 people turned out to make their voices heard.

Meanwhile, some in the community felt unheard following the NYPD’s decision to promote Captain Pete Rose, head of the 94th Precinct, to the rank of Deputy Inspector on Tuesday, less than a year after Rose made a controversial statement regarding rape, saying that the crime is “a trend that we’re too worried about” given that most rapes reported in Greenpoint in 2016 were “not total-abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets.” As Deputy Inspector, Rose will still head the 94th Precinct.  Continue reading

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Subway Rats Join the Brunch Craze, Firefox Gives out Free Coffee and the BQX Unveils a Prototype — the Hook-up (11/17)

Subway rats are on trend this week.
Subway rats are on trend this week.

Move over, Pizza Rat, there’s a new celebrity rodent in town. This week, a subway rat went full “Brooklyn” and jumped on the avocado craze. While waiting for the G at Greenpoint Avenue on Tuesday, filmmaker Jessica Edwards captured a video of a rat hauling a slice of avocado along the tracks.

That’s not the only food-based transit story in the news this week. Mozilla launched a Firefox browser update this week, and claims its internet service is now faster than Google Chrome. To celebrate, Firefox operated a free “Firefox Fast Ferry” between Greenpoint and Manhattan from Tuesday-Thursday. The rides included complimentary donuts, coffee and live music.

Speaking of riding in style, the first prototype of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or BQX, was unveiled on Monday. Also known as the Gentrification Express, the proposed streetcar would run along the waterfront from Astoria to Sunset Park.

The advocacy coalition “Friends of BQX” is pushing Mayor de Blasio to make the streetcar a priority during his second term, at the same time as glass high-rise developments begin to engulf Greenpoint’s waterfront.

But, there may be some environmental justice for Greenpoint courtesy of the Long Island Sound. Much of the Nitrogen that contributes to “dead zones” in the Long Island Sound comes from waste treatment plants in New York City. Pressure from advocacy groups like Save Our Sound could lead to technological upgrades at Newtown Creek.

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On the Waterfront and Off the Leash — The Hook-up (10/11)

Cruising on Newtown Creek. Via Freeport Princess
Conservationists Cruising on Newtown Creek. Via Freeport Princess

Greenpointers have been watching the changing East River Waterfront. A community development meeting on Wednesday allowed residents to hear from developers, and voice their concerns about on-going construction projects in North Brooklyn. While the luxury towers seem to leave a lot of Greenpointers out in the cold, this week The Brooklyn Eagle toured Level BK, in Williamsburg, offering a look inside.

Elsewhere on the waterfront, Newtown Creek Stakeholders took to the waterway for a cruise aboard the Freeport Princess. Business owners, residents, environmentalists, government representatives were all on board.

Transmitter Park is one of the great gems of the Greenpoint waterfront, but the oasis has turned terrifying for pet owners. A shaggy, unleashed, black dog has brutally attacked several other dogs in the park without cause or warning.  Continue reading

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Digester Eggs Bring “Elegant Combination of Engineering and Art” to Newtown Creek

Digester Eggs via NYC DEP
The Newtown Creek Digester Eggs via NYC DEP

While the North Brooklyn Boat Club inspects what lurks beneath the waters of Newtown Creek every Halloween, we thought we’d take a deep dive (theoretically) into what looms above them: The Digester Eggs, those award winning industrial landmarks on the Brooklyn-Queens Border. The Digester Eggs are primarily concerned with what happens after New Yorkers finish their own digesting. Hallmarks of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest of 14 wastewater treatment plants in New York City, the Digester Eggs handle 1.4 million gallons of “sludge” and food-waste daily from across Brooklyn and much of Manhattan.

But what’s sludge, you ask? According the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, sludge refers to organic solids. The Department’s website explains, “Inside the digesters – given heat, lack of oxygen and time, bacteria break down the sludge into more stable materials. This natural process converts much of the sludge into water, carbon dioxide and methane gas, leaving what is called ‘digested sludge.’ This material, in turn, is dewatered to form a cake, which, after additional processing, can be used as fertilizer.” And in an interview with City and State New York, Pam Elardo, the deputy commissioner for the Bureau of Wastewater Treatment, adds that since “methane gas is a very important energy resource,” NYC has teamed up with National Grid “to put that gas directly into their regional pipeline, which then will be going to people’s homes so they can cook their dinner, and then use their toilets, and then put the waste in our system. Then we’ll create more gas from that and then it’s a full circle.” 

The whole process is a based on organic biology. Elardo explains, “what we do is we use biology. We set up conditions to bring a biological community to these treatment plants that actually consume the organic matter. If you think about it this way, if a bear poops in the woods, their poop will eventually become soil because all this bacteria that lives in the environment will degrade that waste. So we’re taking something that takes weeks in the natural environment, and make it happen within a few hours within the treatment plant.”

If this process of decomposition and regeneration seems elegant, than the Department has done its job well. NYC DEP touts the Digester Eggs as an “elegant combination of engineering and art,” elaborating that “Lighting designer Hervé Descottes used a layer of blue light to identify and unify the water treatment plant and to set it apart from the surrounding city.  He also used other lights as well. Bright white lights define the plant’s various functional areas, such as the loading docks, which blaze in contrast to the blue monochromatic field. Shimmering lines, some of them yellow, are used to demarcate pedestrian walkways and to contrast with the blue light.”

And it turns out that you can help the city’s most elegant wastewater treatment plant stay classy by being conscientious about what you flush. Elardo says, “The problem we have is people do flush a lot of things that shouldn’t be in the toilet. Even if it says “flushable” on the box, if it’s not toilet paper, it should not be flushed. So what happens is all those baby wipes, and facial wipes, and Clorox bleach wipes and whatever makeup stuff that people flush – tampons, condoms, everything – it comes to the plant. We have to screen out that debris before we put it into the treatment plant. We do our best to screen it out, and we spend over $7 million a year hauling off just stuff that gets stuck in our screen. Even with the screens, a lot of (those) rags, and baby wipes, and facial stuff gets through the screens and ends up clogging pipes.” 

If you’d like to get a closer look at those pipes, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Center hosts tours three times a year, in February, April and October. The Visitor Center at 329 Greenpoint Avenue is open by appointment only. To visit, call 718-595-5140.

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What Lurks Beneath: Newtown Creek Nighttime Paddle With North Brooklyn Boat Club! (10/28)

North Brooklyn Boat Club Haunted Paddle

The North Brooklyn Boat Club is hosting their spooky haunted nighttime paddle again this year! This Saturday, October 28 from 7:30-11pm, the horror will be revealed!

Here are the deets:

NBBC’s dark and silent (ACA-certified) guides will lead terrifying twenty-minute tours of the starkly beautiful postindustrial waters of Newtown Creek. Over the dark surface of this time-haunted stream, strange chants echo, and those who dwell here have changed with the passing of forgotten years. As the boat passes beneath the rusted relics of bygone industry, there emerge the twisted devotees of ancient powers, older than humanity, uncaring, and strange.

That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.

Each $30 canoe ride ticket includes a drink ticket to be used after your trip. You’ll need it. For those too fearful to ply the waters, we’ll have a party on land with a bonfire, drinks, and food.

The party is free to attend and requires no RSVP, but haunted canoe ride tickets must be purchased in advance.

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A Goat on the Lam, Explosions of Love and Brooklyn in Paradise — The Hook-up (10/5)

Goat on the Lam! via New York Daily News
Goat on the Lam! via New York Daily News

The psalm says the Lord is our shepherd, and nobody seemed to know it better this week than the abandoned billy goat who took shelter under the steps of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration on North 12th and Driggs. Officer Jamar Ferguson, newly-dubbed official goatherd of the 94th Precinct, corralled the freelance goat into a cage and named him “Lil’ Ferg.” Continue reading

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A Teen in the Turnstile, A Man in the River, and Sex at the Center — The Hook-up 9/29

Activist Swimmer Christopher Swain Takes on the East River. Via Brooklyn Paper
Activist Swimmer Christopher Swain Takes on the East River. Via Brooklyn Paper

We’ve all had trouble with the turnstile before — maybe your MetroCard isn’t swiping, maybe some of the turnstiles are out of order — but it takes a special skill and dedication to find yourself wedged on top of a full height turnstile at 8am on a Tuesday morning at Court Square, as one teenage turnstile jumper did this week. A witness told Gothamist that the teen “tried to hold back the gate and slip through it, but it slipped back and wedged him in.” Ultimately, he had to be detangled from the turnstile by MTA personnel.

And that’s not the only wild feat in the news this week. Christopher Swain, an activist swimmer who has already plunged into the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek, swam the East River last Thursday from Greenpoint to Brooklyn Bridge Park in order raise awareness for the global refugee crisis. He took off from Greenpoint’s India Street Ferry Dock, and finished his journey at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Continue reading

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Newtown Creek Alliance is Looking for Volunteers this weekend

Newtown Creek Alliance Going for the Knockout
Newtown Creek Alliance Going for the Knockout. Via Newtown Creek Alliance’s facebook page.

Didn’t Catch the match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor? No worries, you can have a knockout of your own this weekend! Newtown Creek Alliance is looking for volunteers to help with its Knotweed Knockout at Penny Bridge. 

Via Newtown Creek Alliance:

A continuation of our cleanup work at the Penny Bridge site, we are looking for volunteers to help us with weeding and path-making. The vicious Japanese Knotweed, along with other weeds are overtaking portions of the site and we will focus heavily on removing the plant from certain areas for path-making and planting of native pollinator species.  Gloves, shovels, trash bags and all other needed materials will be provided. 

Saturday, September 9th
Sunday, September 10th
11am to 3pm
Location: Where Meeker Avenue dead ends at Newtown Creek (Greenpoint)

You can find a map to the location here.

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Community Visioning, Newtown Creek History, and Green Roof Tour at Kingsland Wildflowers this Saturday (6/3)

kingsland-wildflowers-greenpoint-visitors-photo-by-mpenmannThis Saturday (June 3rd), you can tour the beautiful rooftop at Kingsland Wildflowers (520 Kingsland Ave), learn about the future of Newtown Creek at a community visioning workshop, and take a look back to its industrial roots with local historian Mitch Waxman. These events are all free and open to the public.

Schedule of Events:

1-4pm   Community Visioning with Riverkeeper and NCA, RSVP

5-7pm   Lecture and Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof Tour with Mitch Waxman, NCA Historian, RSVP

More Deets:

Join Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance in creating a cohesive community vision for Newtown Creek. With a Superfund cleanup and long-term plan to control sewage overflows on the horizon, now is an opportune time to engage stakeholders in imagining and designing a future Newtown Creek that provides greater opportunities for restoration, remediation, recreation, and resilience. RSVP

Continue reading

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