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, www.bridginggowanus.org) Dec. 9, 6:30–8:30 pm.