Nothing stinks about this nature walk

A mother and daughter enjoy the new Newtown Creek Nature Walkway at its formal opening on Saturday.
Sara Rivette

Turns out, that new “nature walk” along side the Newtown Creek sewage treatment plant on Provost Street doesn’t smell like the Port Authority men’s room.

The much-mocked walkway, which is the only park space in the northern part of Greenpoint, opened to raves from the residents last weekend, and, most important, didn’t smell as bad as they thought it would.

“It’s better now than the old days,” said Ed Arlowski, who was sent by his congregation, the Church of the Ascension on Kent Avenue, to report back on the walkway.

Arlowski, who has lived in Greenpoint on and off for the past 30 years, found the area “gorgeous” and commended those involved for “doing a great job on the waterfront.”

The nature walk runs along the shoreline of the Newtown Creek and, indeed, borders the wastewater plant.

Where Paidge Avenue ends, the futuristic stainless steel railings usher pedestrians up stairs that lead down a path guarded on the right side by a 20-foot wall separating the path from the plant.

To the left is a small field of large metal containers, scrap metal and varying construction equipment that lay between the path and the creek. Once reaching the edge of the creek, there are tiered steps that go straight into the water, and the granite stairs, as well as many of the granite slab benches, are engraved with names of Indian tribes that once populated the area.

The path leads to a circular area, where the centerpiece is a marble engraving of what the original tributaries of the creek looked like before being filled in for development. When it rains, the engraving fills with water and flows toward the East River, as the tributaries would naturally do.

The path then extends inland, towards the plant and the infamous large egg shaped units, where there is a loading dock for kayaks and boats for access to the water, and railed areas for fishing.

Helen Geist, a Greenpoint lifer, brought her children to take part in the scavenger hunt organized by the Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the site.

“It’s nice to see something developed nice,” Geist said. “It’s nice to come down here and get away from it all.”

The Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee worked with DEP to complete the $3.2-million walkway, which was conceived over a decade ago as a way to ensure water access and cleaning of the creek.

“This will raise environmental awareness,” said Laura Hofmann, a member of NCMC. “The more people that use the waterway, the more it will improve.”

This section of the walkway is the first of three phases that will eventually ring the entire sewage plant.

Given that location, plenty of people joked on local blogs about the manure-smelling nature walk. But that snarkiness did little to curb the enthusiasm of NCMC Co-chair Barbara Milhelic.

“[Thanks to this path] I will be able to dance from one end of Greenpoint to the other!” she said.

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