Greenpoint Landing & 77 Commercial St. ULURP: Sewer Overflow & Storm Water

by Heather Van De Mark on

There is no greater feeling than to ask and to receive. On Monday, we posted a breakdown of the upcoming ULURP actions for the Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. developments. More importantly though, we asked you, our readers and our neighbors, to tell us what you think of these ULURP requests, what your concerns are and what demands you want to make moving forward.

Lucky us, you’ve started to respond! We’ll be posting the messages we receive throughout the summer as the CB1 ULURP meeting approaches. If we don’t post your message, don’t worry–we’ve seen, we’ve read it, and we’re taking it into account as we try to create a community-based plan of attack–figurative attack, not literal. And don’t worry, we won’t post anything without contacting you first. Without further ado…

Excerpt of an e-mail from a Greenpoint resident:

I’ve only been a Greenpoint resident for about two years, but it is the first place I’ve lived out of school and I have fallen in love with the neighborhood. I am also an architect with experience working on high-rise developer work from both a planning and architectural standpoint.

I fully agree with all of the concerns listed on the website, especially with regard to the dispensation and placement of affordable housing, impact on transit, and the extension of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Anti-Harassment Zone. An additional concern I have pertains to storm water and wastewater management. New York has a combined sewer system, and I worry about this development’s impact on the already tired and overtaxed system. A number of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) from North Brooklyn’s system are located in the Newtown Creek, meaning that overflow impacts from this development would directly impact our neighborhood and our waterways. The developments claim to be “remediating” the waterfront, but are they in fact increasing pollution in the Newtown Creek and the East River?

Map of CSOs in North Brooklyn and along the Newtown Creek. Source: OASIS NYC.

Firstly, there’s the practical matter of the amount of wastewater generated by the thousands of new residents, but secondly I worry very much about the fact that the entire development will be raised above the floodplain, and thus above the surrounding neighborhood. It seems that in the event of a flood or a large amount of rainfall, this would leave the new development high and dry while pushing water further into the existing neighborhood. The development team needs to present a series of building and site sections which show explicitly their development’s relationship to the surrounding neighborhood, and that impact analysis must also be undertaken with respect to the storm water/wastewater system. We need to understand how the development is impacting our neighborhood and how that impact is being mitigated.

In response: From Kate Zidar, Executive Director of Newtown Creek Alliance: “Adding 10,000 new residents (well over 25% of the current total population of Greenpoint) means adding that factor of toilet flushes from the site per day to the capacity of the sewage treatment plant, leaving less room for storm water in the system on rainy days and increasing sewer overflows in local waters. If this development was truly going for “no net water impact,” they would manage additional storm water, from offsite if necessary, to mitigate this major increase to sanitary flow. After all, improved water quality in the East River and Newtown Creek will only benefit the current and future residents of Greenpoint.”

Heather Van De Mark

Heather Van De Mark

Heather is a designer/writer specializing in non-profit organizations and social causes. Originally from central NY, Heather settled into the charming Greenpoint neighborhood in 2011. While most of her community activism takes place from behind a computer screen, Heather can often be found at CB1 meetings, the McCarren Park track and any of the parks along the waterfront.