Gowanus Canal–area residents say they’ve been sold down the river because a city plan to reduce the amount of sewage dumped into the fetid waterway will stop before reaching the ultimate prize — a swimmable channel.
“The goals are not nearly sufficient,” said Park Slope resident Josh Skaller, president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, at the Tuesday night public hearing on the city plan to decrease the waste that flows into the canal when it rains.
“We should have truly clean water there.”
Many Gowanus residents — and real-estate developers — envision a sparkling canal lined with restaurants and recreational space on its banks, like Riverwalk in San Antonio.
“I’m champing at the bit to build something like that,” said Buddy Scotto, a longtime neighborhood activist.
The Department of Environmental Protection says that passive recreation will be possible under its $212-million plan, which would reduce sewage by 34 percent. The reduction would come from improvements to the system that pumps water into the canal from the Buttermilk Channel, DEP said.
The agency will also skim the surface for “floatables,” said DEP Chief Kevin Clarke, using a popular euphemism for the fecal matter that is often seen bobbing in the dirty water.
“You’re going to see a lot less garbage in the canal,” Clarke told the crowd of about 50 at PS 58 on Carroll Street on Tuesday night.
Less waste in the water is good news for fish, who will be able to procreate, and for boaters, who will be able to kayak in the canal (as long as they don’t fall in).
But that’s not good enough given that the city hopes to rezone the area to encourage residential development with the canal at the heart of this burgeoning new neighborhood.
“I feel like [the DEP] is the professor and I’m the student who has flunked the course over and over again,” said Park Slope resident Marlene Donnelly, a member of Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus. “I’ve heard the same presentation so many times.
“Where’s the progress?”