The city isn’t the only entity that doesn’t want to see a public park and pool ripped up so a giant wastewater holding tank can be buried beneath it as part of a so-called Gowanus Canal “Superfund” cleanup — a group of locals say the park-and-pool-related closure would be a major blow to the community that relies on the amenities, and have collected more than 700 signatures on an online petition to stop it from happening.
The suggestion to place one of the eight-million-gallon tanks directly under parkland has drawn the ire from Gowanus neighbors and activists because the plan calls for the excavation of the Thomas Greene Playground and adjoining “Double-D” pool, and would close the space for an estimated two to three years.
“Make the polluters pay — not our children, not our community,” said Friends of Douglass-Greene Park board member and Gowanus resident Sabine Aronowsky. “It will destroy one spot that has always been provided for us — there is nothing else for us to go to.”
But because the park and pool sits directly above a plot of contaminated land where the former Fulton Manufactured Gas Plant functioned from 1879 to 1929, it will likely have to be torn up and cleaned up even if the tanks don’t go in, say federal officials.
Superfund project manager Christos Tsiamis said that one of the reasons the feds chose the park and pool as the place to bury the sewage holding tank is because it would kill two birds with one stone, since the site will have to be cleaned by energy giant National Grid.
“We are of the opinion that there will be some work required to be done by National Grid and the state that would require some kind of excavation so we thought since New York City owns the park it would be best,” said Tsiamis. “If [the state] were to excavate there National Grid would have to pay for the cost for the excavation and the city would install the tanks — it would be cheaper for the city and there would be shared costs.”
The federal government’s Superfund strategy, where it identifies culprits and demands fixes and payments, is in its planning stage and will be finalized this summer. Once that happens, cleanup in and around the canal will last until about 2020, the feds claim. The dredging of contaminated sludge at the canal floor could begin by 2015.
It’s not the first time residents have rallied behind the Double-D. Back in June of 2010, the city planned to close the pool for the summer due to budget cuts, but rallies by residents and politicians, including Borough President Markowitz, kept it open.