Activists: Newtown Creek gas plant squashes park promise

The city is building a gas recycling facility on land that it promised it would turn into a neighborhood park, according to Greenpointers who are demanding the plant be moved elsewhere.

Members of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, a community group, say the city pledged the green space more than a decade ago when workers first started building the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The activists have no problem with the latest addition, an 18-wheeler-sized mechanism that is supposed to harvest methane from sewage and compost and send it back into the energy grid, but say the city should place it somewhere else.

“We are totally for the process that they are building, but what we are against is where they are putting it,” said Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee member and Greenpoint resident Michael Hoffman.

The city did build a so-called “nature walk,” a concrete-lined pathway leading from Provost Street to Newtown Creek, in 2007, and has begun an expansion to connect to Kingsland Avenue and N. Henry Street, but activists say much more public space was part of the bargain.

Between the gas facility and a temporary structure being built nearby, all the remaining area surrounding the plant, which is bounded by Greenpoint Avenue, Provost Street, and N. Henry Street, is in the process of getting built over, Hoffman said.

“It does not look like we are going to get any of the open space they promised us,” he said.

The Department of Environmental Protection retorts that it is placing the methane harvesting system as close to the existing plant as possible, on land that is already paved. The lot is set to be a fenced-off construction site until at least 2016, when the addition is supposed to be completed.

Neighbors say that is unacceptable.

“They are occupying land that is supposed to be public,” said Dewey Thompson, founder and harbor master of the North Brooklyn Boat Club. “If the city made a promise, it should keep it.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurf‌[email protected]‌ngloc‌al.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitt‌er.com/‌Danie‌lleFu‌rfaro.