Mayor Bloomberg flushed plans to demolish a seven-story sewage sludge tank on the Greenpoint waterfront last week, and 300 units of affordable housing and several acres of open space went down the toilet with it, local watchdogs say.
The administration had promised to redevelop a six-acre parcel at the Newtown Creek sewage treatment plant as “open space and affordable housing,” but the Department of Environmental Protection told a sewage plant-monitoring group that it was delaying the plan.
DEP said the sludge tank, the pipes leading to it and the loading docks for the barges that haul the waste away, would not be demolished until 2011, a year after Bloomberg leaves office.
The news came “without warning” last Thursday during a closed-door meeting with the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, a citizen’s group that oversees the administration’s ongoing upgrade of the facility, said committee member Evan Thies.
“This is infuriating to the community because it says to us that this administration is no longer committed to affordable housing and open space in this area,” Thies said. “They put the demolition date outside their administration. Whether it is their intention to scuttle this project, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
“[Now] we’ll have to convince a new administration to commit to the same agreement,” Thies added.
The sludge tank and loading docks are on the waterfront between the intersections of West and Eagle streets and Commercial and Dupont streets. The idea to makeover the area with something less unsightly than a towering sewage tank first came up during the Giuliani administration in 1997, but nothing came of it. Bloomberg revived the idea in 2005 when he was pushing for rezoning in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
“It’s disgraceful that this project has been delayed so many times,” said committee co-chairwoman Irene Klementowicz. “Where does it end? I’ve been doing this for years and it’s so disappointing that the plan changes time and again. It’s demoralizing for the community, and I’m sorry to say that I’m running out of patience.”
A spokeswoman for DEP said the city pushed the project back because it has to be prepared to replace the tank and its infrastructure before demolition begins.
“The current schedule allows for demolition of the sludge tank to be completed in 2011,” the spokeswoman said. “Early estimates show that the design, manufacture and delivery of new sludge vessels will take longer than originally anticipated. We are exploring ways to shorten this timeframe.”