Meeting to ‘chart the future of Gowanus’

The Brooklyn Paper
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Make yourself heard, Gowanus.

That is what a bunch of Brooklyn lawmakers are saying to entice neighborhood residents to attend a Dec. 9 meeting and share their pet ideas for the area as part of a still-vague process for mapping its future.

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus) is leading the effort to develop what his office calls a “unified vision” for the neighborhood along the banks of the fetid Gowanus Canal. Neighbors need to come up with ways to keep factories, support artists, figure out how much residential development is enough, and stop flooding ahead of the next Hurricane Sandy — or heavy downpour — according to a website announcing the meeting, which is supposed to be the first in a series.

“This will be an effort to open up the planning process so that community residents, business people, and community groups can work together to shape a vision for the area around the Gowanus Canal rather than have decisions made by developers, the city, or by elected officials,” Lander wrote in an August letter to this paper.

Lander pointed to the formal beginning of the waterway’s federally mandated Superfund clean-up as proof that it is time to shift gears and look at the big picture.

The open-mic format hearkens back to the participatory budgeting Lander pushed in 2011, only then there was $1-million in discretionary funds to throw around. Now, there is no money in play and no clear mechanism in place to turn neighbors’ suggestions into the law of the land, especially since Lander says he wants to transcend a “zoning-only agenda.”

But a handful of neighborhood legislators are on board, including Councilman Steve Levin (D–Gowanus), whose district splits the neighborhood with Lander’s, Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Gowanus), and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D–Gowanus).

So can the neighborhood brainstorm its way out of a sewage system that overflows during heavy rainstorms? See for yourself.

Gowanus community planning meeting at PS 372 (512 Carroll St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, Dec. 9, 6:30–8:30 pm.

Nathan Tempey is a Deputy Editor at the Community Newspaper Group. Reach him at or by calling (718) 260-4504. Follow him at
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Reasonable discourse

Caleb Von Nasalsmythe from BoCoCa Cruelty-Free Bait and Tackle Shoppe says:
Like, yah - ill be there to demonstrate the importance of turning the canal into an indoor water park for newly arrived creative types complete with floating oyster and moonshine bar.

Dec. 3, 2013, 10:30 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Caleb, you mean the "newly-arrived creative types" who've been there for at least a couple decades? It seems your definition of "newly-arrived" differs from that of most. The artists working around the Gowanus have been there quite a while, producing tremendous works in what has been a brownfield for the better part of a century. Or are you arguing to keep the Lavender Lake because hipsters? Do you prefer the fetid stench of a polluted waterway to a clean, useable body of water that doesn't drag property values down? Gowanus has a lot of stakeholders including long-time residents, small businesses, and newer arrivals. Brad Lander's attempt to have everyone involved in charting the future of the area seems to be a good thing, because everyone gets a say instead of having a plan imposed by outside forces who don't necessarily have the best interests of the neighborhood at heart. But hey, don't let common sense get in the way of you getting your hate on.
Dec. 3, 2013, 11:02 am
Jim from Carroll Gardens says:
What Scott said.
Dec. 3, 2013, 11:26 am
jay from nyc says:
I would say how about instead of trying to turn gow-anus into something it can never be (its too polluted, even after the cleanup it will still be too polluted). How about we try and bring back manufacturing jobs to the area since that is what it is actually designed for, bring back middle class jobs for people who need them, revitalize the tax base. Maybe hi-tech manufacturing or something like that.
Dec. 3, 2013, 8:15 pm
diehipster from Crushing Calebs says:
What Jay said.
Dec. 3, 2013, 8:57 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
diehipster, we all knew Caleb was you. But it's a healthy sign that you are beginning to pick up on how loathsome and cartoonish you are that you are shying away from your usual moniker--not even you wants to be associated with you anymore.

jay, the degree to which the canal's pollution is remediated is related to the long-term pressure from the community to have it remediated. Given the extreme length of time it took to get even the flushing machinery repaired it seems the community previously lacked either the will or the clout to have something meaningful done quickly. Having a higher profile in the city through this upcoming meeting, as well as spiking developer interest in re-zoning and re-developing plots along the waterway, and new residents intent on seeing their property values increase, could finally achieve what I'm sure most of the older residents wished could have happened decades ago.

I think you are right about hi-tech manufacturing may be returning to the area. It is, albeit in a completely different form than the model born in the industrial revolution. There are many startups focusing on 3D printing, bio-hacking (lower cost, quicker diabetes tests, synthesizing vaccines, etc), and the like that are moving into the area. They will create lots of high-paying jobs, but pollute not at all. And I think they too will love having the Gowanus artists, old school manufacturers, and other folks as neighbors. Combinations like that produce brilliance that places like Silicon Valley couldn't even hope to touch.
Dec. 4, 2013, 12:46 am
diehipster from Scott is Smart says:
LOL you smart soyboy. You really think I was trying to disguise who i was??? Better lay off those organic Park Slope Food Coop veggies.
Dec. 4, 2013, 12:37 pm
Joey from south brooklyn says:
Hopefully the EPA will remove the toxic waste that is Diehipster while they're cleaning up the area.
Dec. 4, 2013, 2:39 pm
Zoey from north brooklyn says:
Yes, what my cousin Joey from south brooklyn said...

.... And yes, pretending to be normal Brooklynites in the Brooklyn paper comment section who side with hipsters will change the way people perceive hipsters.
Dec. 4, 2013, 9:19 pm
Diehipsturd from Mooklyn says:
Look at meeee! I label any young white person who moved to Brooklyn in the last ten years a 'hipster' and rant at them every chance I get to go back to the Midwest (even though most transplants are from the tri-state area). I hate the way they dress! 'Normal Brooklynites' like me only wear sweats and baseball caps from Modell's. Waah! I hate them for ruining my neighborhood by cleaning up my trash and displacing my drug dealing kidult buddies. I hate that some of them don't work regular jobs - only me and my other 'normal brooklynites' are allowed to live here without having to work for a living in our inherited rent-privileged apartments or family owned buildings. Waah waah waah! Brooklyn is changing and I DON'T LIKE IT!
Dec. 5, 2013, 9:57 am
Ian from Williamsburg says:
Politicians, business developers, planners and neighbors probably need to acknowledge that continuing to subsidize manufacturing in neighborhoods is a poor strategy. NYC cost of labor, cost of transit, cost of real estate, tax structure, and unionization are reasons that manufacturing is not going to be a significant job creator without heavy subsidies. It's probably better to put any money towards creating a livable neighborhood and improve the quality of life for neighbors.
Dec. 7, 2013, 8:07 am

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