Their cover is blown!
The city plans to seize and demolish the Gowanus Canal-side studio used to film acclaimed spy drama “The Americans” as part of the federal cleanup of the fetid waterway, officials announced at a public meeting on Monday — blindsiding a studio honcho who then attempted to bargain with the Feds over the millions it has sunk into leasing the local soundstage and the money it pumps into the local economy.
“We’ve made a $1-million investment as leasers and bring significant stimulus to the local environment,” said Ian Defibaugh from Eastern Effects Studios on Nevins Street — who knew losing the land was a possibility going into the meeting, but didn’t know it was a sealed deal until an agency rep announced it to the crowded auditorium.
The sexy FX Cold War drama — starring sexy Brooklyn Heights residents Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys — regularly films in the studio between Douglass and DeGraw streets and brings in around $4 million each year to local businesses, Defibaugh claimed.
But the federal Environmental Protection Agency needs to use the lot as a “staging site” to stow and assemble equipment for the installation of a giant sewage tank next door — which will be used to stop the canal flooding with poop when it rains — and will have to dig up the lot at some point regardless because it is polluted, according to local Superfund czar Walter Mugdan.
The Feds had long been pushing the city to install the tank under the city-owned Double D pool in nearby Thomas Greene Park — which needs to be excavated for contaminated soil anyway — but reached an agreement earlier this month to seize the land next to Eastern Effects via eminent domain and stick the tank there instead, sparing the beloved swimming hole from any extra years out of commission.
Now Mugdan says the agency has embraced the city’s plan, too, because it believes the tank’s mechanical equipment would take up too much of the local parkland, and it can turn most of the new above-ground land it acquires into more public green space.
Assemblywoman Jo Ann Simon (D–Cobble Hill) also spoke up in favor of the city’s plan for that reason.
But the dozens of locals who packed out the meeting weren’t sold. They demanded the environmental agency go back to the pool scheme, given it will be digging it up anyway and would be much quicker and cheaper than going through the process of taking private land through the courts — which they worry will delay the canal cleanup.
“They’re creating a boondoggle and making this project far more complex and expensive than it needs to be,” said Carroll Gardens resident Glenn Kelly. “They’re going to make this so big, it’s going to be impossible for them to finish it.”
Mugdan stressed that the Feds have given the city a strict timeline of four years to acquire the land, and said his agency is ready to switch gears and build under the park should it fail.
The agency had originally given locals until May 16 to submit their comments about the plan, but it has now extended its public comment period until May 31 due to demand — though it is unlikely to actually consider anyone’s concerns, Mugdan said.
“We’re not likely to walk away from it or change it, but this is the opportunity to tell us what you think,” he said.
You can send your comments to: Walter Mugdan, US EPA Superfund Director, 290 Broadway, Floor 19, New York, NY 10007 or mugda