Gowanus activists hope to show a local pol what democracy looks like tonight by holding their own meeting to counter a series of community-planning sessions that they say ignored the community.
The activists’ town hall, dubbed “Take Back Gowanus,” is a reaction to the just-wrapped Bridging Gowanus meetings, the last of which rabble rousers disrupted two weeks ago, claiming host Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus) glossed over their opposition to luxury residential projects, among other issues.
“We have a mission to discuss the topics in the neighborhood that were never discussed at Bridging Gowanus,” said organizer Joseph Alexiou. “We hope to put out some sort of petition and make certain demands of the city.”
The counter-meeting is being put on by a coalition of neighborhood groups, including Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, the Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development, and Save Kentile, an organization dedicated to preserving the Kentile Floors sign, among others. Chief among Alexiou’s concerns is speeding the pace of the ongoing Gowanus Canal cleanup and addressing pollution throughout the area, but he said everyone at the meeting will have time to discuss what they think is important.
Lander touted Bridging Gowanus as a way to plan for responsible development in Gowanus now that it is an enticing prospect for developers short on vacant lots and raw industrial buildings to snap up. But many of the Take Back Gowanus camp say the pol is in the pocket of big builders like the Lightstone Group, whose in-progress project on Bond Street they oppose.
“Most people agree that it doesn’t feel like the character of Gowanus is being protected,” said Steven Savage, who led the charge in June to save the Kentile Floors sign from being dismantled. “I worry that it could be easily changed into the new Williamsburg.”
Lander did not respond to a request for comment.
“Take Back Gowanus” at The Green Building (452 Union St. at Bond Street in Gowanus). Tonight, 7 pm.