GWAPP Newsletter: 2002, volume 2
Dear GWAPP Members, friends and neighbors,
As our activities grow each day, we wanted you to know what we have been doing to help promote the positive transformation of our waterfront and to assist our community in general. Therefore, we have decided to start a monthly eNewsletter to keep you up-to-date on all our latest activities. We hope that you will find the information useful to track what is happening on matters important to our community. Feel free to send us any comments or questions.
THE FIGHT AGAINST THE PROPOSED 1,100MW POWER PLANT ON NORTH 12TH STREET CONTINUES:
The Greenpoint/Williamsburg Waterfront Task Force, of which GWAPP is a founding member, has been working tirelessly on behalf of the community to fight the power plant proposed by TransGas Energy Systems (TGE). The Task Force has met nearly every week for over 14 months now, and will likely continue another 14 months before the decision is made by the Siting Board as to whether TGE will be issued a permit to construct the plant. The Task Force has retained attorneys from the Pace Energy Project to represent the community. As of this writing, the Public Involvement and Stipulations phases have been completed. The developer is now working on their final application. Once that application is submitted, the Task Force and our attorneys will be retaining consultants to rebut information set forth by the developer and presenting arguments against the plant in hearings before an administrative judge. The Task Force is currently focusing on raising community awareness of this threat to our neighborhoods, preparing for further fund raisers to pay the mounting legal bills and other costs associated with fighting the power plant, (estimated to be over $70,000.00), and working with our attorneys to prepare further documentation to bolster our case.
GWAPP TO HELP COMMUNITY STUDY REZONING AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS:
Now that our 197a plans have been passed by City Council, development and rezoning of our waterfront is moving ahead at a rapid pace. In Williamsburg, from North 3rd Street up to North 12th, (adjacent to the proposed power plant), every block on the waterfront with the exception of the NYU/BEDT site are in the hands of developers who plan to build housing. In Greenpoint, the developer of the 14 acre Greenpoint Terminal Market Site already has preliminary plans and models for 3.5 million square feet of development and the developer of the 24 acre Greenpoint Lumber Exchange site plans about the same. At the same time, the Department of City Planning is moving ahead with rezoning of the waterfront, with plans to announce the zoning recommendations this fall. While both 197a plans call for rezoning and encourage some form of residential as well as mixed use development, GWAPP has great concerns that the issue of open space is being overlooked, and at the same time, that the community is not equipped with the information it needs to negotiate with developers on affordable housing and other amenities. Greenpoint and Williamsburg are already near the bottom of the list in the city for park land per person. The planned developments will add over 18,000 new people to our neighborhood, making a bad situation far worse. GWAPP has decided to devote $30,000.00 in funding to hire consultants to help the community address these issues. We are currently having discussions with planning staff at the Brooklyn Borough Presidents office, with our elected officials, with professor Ron Shiffman of PICCED and others to finalize an approach and begin this process. We will be sending out further information via email in the near future as well as putting articles in the local papers.
MANY MANY THANKS TO SENATOR MARTIN CONNOR AND ASSEMBLYMAN JOE LENTOL FOR WRANGLING $15,000 IN GRANTS FOR GWAPP OUT OF THE STATE BUDGET.
The money will be used for part-time staff, expenses, and our project to fund community-based planning efforts for our waterfront.
MANY MANY THANKS TO COUNCILMAN DAVID YASSKY FOR SECURING $25,000.00 IN CITY FUNDING FOR GWAPP:
This money will be used to fund the community-based planning efforts for our waterfront referred to above.
WNYC PARK RECEIVES DESIGN FUNDING:
The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation has received $175,000.00 in grant funding from the state to conduct design studies for the transformation of the WNYC Transmitter site at the end of Greenpoint Avenue to an open public park. Community Board 1 will be forming a Task Force from the community to work with the Parks Department on this project. GWAPP will be sending notices regarding the formation of this task force via email and on our web site… THIS IS A VERY EXCITING LONG AWAITED DEVELOPMENT!
SUCCESS IN SUIT AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION REGARDING STUDY OF EFFECTS OF POLLUTANTS FROM DIESEL SANITATION TRUCKS:
GWAPP joined NRDC, NYPIRG and NYLPI in filing an amicus brief in the Spitzer v Farrell suit. In a unanimous decision, the original ruling in this case was reversed. The Department of Sanitation now has to perform an Environmental Impact Statement studying the impacts and effects of PM 2.5 (very small particle pollutants), from their diesel truck garbage plan. We are hopeful this ruling will also be helpful in forcing the power plant developers to study PM 2.5 in their application as well.
BOROUGH PRESIDENTS OFFICE RECEIVES $250,000 GRANT FUNDING TO STUDY CONTINUOUS WATERFRONT WALKWAY IN GREENPOINT AND WILLIAMSBURG:
This grant will study the feasibility of a continuous waterfront walkway from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Newtown Creek. The Borough Presidents office will be forming a Task Force for this study with participation by Community Board #1 and community groups including GWAPP. GWAPP will be sending notices regarding the formation of this task force via email and on our web site.
OPPOSITION TO THE DEMOLITION OF THE GREENPOINT INCINERATOR CONTINUES: GWAPP Board Member Mike Hofmann and GWAPP member organization Barge Park Pals have been heading up the effort to force the Department of Sanitation to take the proper measures to test the incinerator for dioxins and other toxic substances that could be released into the air during its demolition and to require them to take appropriate measures. To date, demolition of the stacks is nearly complete and no testing has been done for dioxins and similar contaminants. The GWAPP Board has decided to fund private testing of the facility on behalf of the community and will be working with Councilman Yassky to secure access to the site and permission for this testing.
NEW ORGANIZATION FORMS TO CREATE MORE OPEN SPACE FOR GREENPOINT/ WILLIAMSBURG:
A new organization has formed in the community, the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, (OSA). Founded by Steve Hindy from the Brooklyn Brewery, the sole purpose of the organization is to provide funding to acquire property for new open space and parks for our community. GWAPP co-chair Joe Vance is a founding member of the board. The first project for OSA will be to help the Trust for Public Land acquire the 2 acre parcel surrounding the Bushwick Creek Inlet between Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
CHECK OUT OUR NEW AND IMPROVED WEB SITE
At our web site you can the latest information about the issues facing our neighborhood, learn more about GWAPP, and add your information to receive future emails and mailings from us. (Email is our primary means of disseminating information.)
For the second year GWAPP is proud to sponsor a team for the “Barge Park Kids Softball League”, a league organized and run by GWAPP member organization Barge Park Pals and GWAPP board member Mike Hofmann and his wife Laura. This year GWAPP is not only sponsoring a team but also providing funding for trophies.
NEXT MEETING SEPTEMBER 18th
Our annual membership meeting will be September 18th at 7:00pm at the Polish National Home on Driggs and Eckford. Elections will be held for the Board of Directors positions. Anyone representing a member organization may be nominated for the Board.
6/20/02 MEETING WITH BOROUGH PRESIDENT’S OFFICE
GWAPP Board members Joe Vance and Christine Holowacz, along with Peter Gillespie from GWAPP member organization Neighbors Against Garbage met with planning staff from the Brooklyn Borough President’s office to discuss GWAPP’s plans to retain planning consultants on behalf of the community, (see further info elsewhere in this newsletter).
5/22/02 GWAPP QUARTERLY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Our second quarterly meeting of the year was held at the Polish National Home. There was lengthy discussion of the status of the fight against the TGE power plant; a vote was taken to use $30,000.00 in GWAPP funds to move ahead with the community planning project, (discussed elsewhere in this newsletter); a report on the meeting with the developer of the GTM site, (discussed elsewhere in this newsletter); an update on the demolition of the Greenpoint Incinerator; an update on the status of waterfront development; plans to share staff with North Brooklyn Development Corporation; the announcement of the new Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, and other general announcements.
5/21/02 PARKS RALLY IN McCARREN PARK
GWAPP board member Mike Hofmann along with several members attended a parks rally which was held in McCarren Park and sponsored by New Yorkers for Parks. Our Councilman David Yassky was there and spoke to defend our Greenpoint parks and waterfront. Several councilmen as well as many New York City parks organizations and activists were there to speak out for parks and gardens as well. When the rally was over, everyone was invited to march from McCarren Park to P.S. 31 where history was made. P.S. 31 was proud to host the first City Council meeting ever to be held in a N.Y. public school.
5/6/02 PRESENTATION TO COMMUNITY BOARD 9 IN MANHATTAN
GWAPP board member Julie Lawrence along with Heather Roslund presented the public involvement process of our 197-a plans and answered questions from the Board’s 197-a committee as they move to the next phase of their plan for economic development of a corridor in West Harlem.
4/24/02 MEETING WITH THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL
GWAPP board member Adam Perlmutter made a presentation to the Natural Resources Defense Council to enlist that organizations support in fighting TGE. His presentation focused on land use and environmental issues. During that meeting, the NRDC committed to making its work on PM 2.5, particulate material tied to heart disease and cancer, available in the fight to stop TGE.
4/20/02 GOVERNOR PATAKI ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR NEW RECREATIONAL PIER BETWEEN KENT AND JAVA STREETS
GWAPP was recognized by the Governor’s office as being instrumental in the award of a state grant to the New York Economic Development Corporation to assist in the building of a new recreational pier between Kent and Java Streets. This project now has nearly $2 million in funding and should be completed in 2004. The goal is to construct a new 30 foot wide by 350 foot long pier out into the East River for recreational use, similar to those at Gantry Park in Long Island City. GWAPP will be sending out notices to our email list announcing design meetings for this pier as soon as they are scheduled by EDC.
4/6/02 ENVIRONMENTAL MAPPING
GWAPP board member Adam Perlmutter attended a meeting at the People’s Fire House in connection with a high school environmental mapping program being coordinated by the Watchperson Project. Adam and a representative from the MIT alumni association met with high school students regarding the environmental burdens in Greenpoint/Williamsburg and discussed methods for mapping environmental complaints.
3/21/02 MEETING WITH DEVELOPER OF GREENPOINT TERMINAL MARKET PROPERTY
The GWAPP Board, representatives from the Community Board and elected officials met with Josh Guttman concerning his preliminary proposal for developing housing on the GTM site. The developers preliminary presentation included many elements the community desired of the site expressed in the 197a plan including retaining many of the existing buildings, reopening Milton, Noble and Oak Streets to the waterfront, new rowhouses on Greenpoint Avenue and contextual scale buildings along Franklin Street between Noble and Oak. However the preliminary proposal also included four tall buildings. Those present gave Guttman comments criticizing the proposed height of the project and calling for a commitment to affordable housing, community amenities and quality open space. Mr. Guttman agreed to make revisions to his project and have a meeting with the community at large in the coming months.
3/19/02 BOROUGH PRESIDENT MARTY MARKOWITZ VISITS GREENPOINT
GWAPP member organization Greenpoint Civic Council hosted Borough President Markowitz at their regular monthly meeting at the Greenpoint Savings Bank.
3/18/02 PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION MEETING
The Task Force including several GWAPP board members and GWAPP member organizations attended the Public Service Commission Process Forum at J.H.S. 148 in Williamsburg where they worked with elected officials and counsel from the Pace Energy Project to question the administrative judge regarding environmental and land use issues surrounding the TGE application.
3/15/02 CELEBRATING THE NEW CITY COUNCIL WATERFRONT COMMITTEE
GWAPP co-chair Joe Vance attended a luncheon at the River Cafe celebrating the new New York City Council Waterfront Committee, chaired by our City Councilman David Yassky. The event, sponsored by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition, was attended by waterfront organizations from throughout the city as well as members of the city council, elected officials and city agencies.
3/14/02 RECEPTION HONORING NEW CITY PLANNING COMMISSION CHAIR BURDEN
GWAPP Board Members Julie Lawrence and Joe Vance attended a private reception honoring the new chair of the New York City Planning Commission, Amanda Burden. Chairman Burden was quite supportive of our 197a plan as a commissioner, we are quite excited about working with her during the coming years that will transform our Greenpoint waterfront.
GWAPP Member Organizations
Brooklyn Legal Services, Inc. : Brooklyn Lighthouse Community Church : Buckminster Fuller Institute : Choir Angelus : Church of the Ascension : Congregation Ahavas Israel : Dupont Street Senior HDFC : Friends of Newtown CreekBarge Terminal Playground : GCU Lodge #1 : Green Oaks : GreenpointGreen : Greenpoint Ave/West St Block Assoc : Greenpoint Civic Council : Greenpoint Property Owners Assoc. : Greenpoint Reformed Church : Greenpoint Renaissance Society : Greenpoint Video Project : Greenpoint/Williamsburg Youth Soccer League : Ind. Friends of McCarren Park, Inc. : Huron Street Block Association : India Street Block Assoc. : John Smolenski Memorial Dem Club : Neighbors Against Garbage : North Brooklyn Development Corp : North Brooklyn Greens : North Greenpoint Neighbors for Environmental Justice : Oak Street Block Association : Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church : Park Moms : People’s Firehouse : Polish American Folk Dance Co. : Polish National Home : Polish Veterans Ladies Auxiliary : Polonia Technica : P.S.C. Community Services, Inc. : River Charter School : St. Anthony/St. Alphonsas Church : St. John’s Lutheran Church : Stop the Barge : Sybiracy : Vincent DePaul Society/St. Anthony’s of Padua : Watchperson Project : WaterWays and Green Views