New York Shitty Day Starter: Live From The Polish National Home…

The Public Meeting Regarding The Newtown Creek Superfund Site

To preface: My footage/documentation of this hearing is truncated because;

  1. I left the battery for my digital camera at home. (Hey, occasionally shit happens at Chez Shitty!)
  2. This meeting, which was scheduled to last two hours, ended up being more or less redundant. E.g.; More or less the same complaints/concerns were raised followed by more or less the same answers. (Thus, I feel a lot less guilty for forgetting my battery.)

Nonetheless, I got the presentation in its entirety along with a few questions from the audience (which, it should be noted, became much more substantial after the conflicting meeting regarding the Nassau Avenue Reconstruction meeting was dismissed). Without further ado, here we go!

Parts I – VI: Introduction & Presentation

Part VII: The Q & A Session Kicks Off

Part VIII: Laura Hofmann Speaks

Part IX: A Bone Fide Old School Greenpointer (and all-around Garden Spot/environmental badass) Irene Klementowicz Tenders Her Two Cents

Part X: A Resident Of Oak Street Speaks

It was at this point I— and my electronics— gave up. However, I did take notes. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. It was asked by one citizen if they (being the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection) have considered posting notices at local fishing supply shops. They stated they were not aware of any. To wit, he replied:

There’s one two blocks from here.

This was met with surprise by the panel of experts present.

2. It was asked if there are any grants available (via the Department of Health) which would enable community groups to conduct a more comprehensive/focused study. The answer was (essentially) “not that we know of”.

3. It was pointed out by a member of the audience— at the Polish National Home (AKA: The Warsaw)— that little to no outreach has been made by either the Department of Health or the Department of Environmental Protection to the Polish community in Greenpoint, viz a viz, through its local Polish language newspapers. It was agreed by the officials present that this was a sterling idea and solicited information as to whom they could contact. Yours truly helped with this endeavor by giving them the contact information for a reporter at this newspaper.

4. Kate Zidar, Executive Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, reiterated that these meetings are “repetitive” and advised the civil servants hosting said forum to “take notes” in the hope that— moving forward— these convocations (and health studies regarding the manifold number of toxins manifest in Greenpoint) can move forward. Ms. Zidar was advised notes were, in fact, being taken— and this was pretty awesome given the following:

We do not want a “perfect” health study. We want a health study.

Then she followed this statement up with the following bits of data:

  • In January of 2007 the Newtown Creek Alliance sent a letter to the Department of Health requesting a comprehensive health study of the Greenpoint Oil Spill.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in March 2008, the Newtown Creek Alliance (which will henceforth be called the “NCA” — Ed. Note) requested (among many other things) that a skilled Community Liaison be enlisted by the Department of Health. This has not happened.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in October of 2008 Ms. Zidar notes the map (and I quote) “does not include features agreed upon at previous meetings”. Which, as I intuit, would include a 1/2 mile radius versus a 1/4 mile radius (from which the Department of Health is operating currently) because…
    • a great deal of residential property is excluded by the current demarcations. Thus this current study is more an occupational/workplace study than one of long-term, consistent exposure.
    • Such a study should include/take into consideration other “hot spots” such as the “Greenpoint oil spill” and “Meeker Avenue Plume”. To date, it does not.

 5. The previous was not overlooked by our local politicians*:

  • Among them our City Councilman, Steve Levin (as seen above texting), noted:
    • He resides not only atop the “Oil Spill” but the “Plume” as well.
    • A half-mile radius study should be employed.
    • To merely focus on the creek is to focus on one part of a manifold number of environmental (and therefore: health-related) problems in Greenpoint.
  • Lincoln Restler (whose back can be seen at right) added his two cents. They were basically as follows: This is an ongoing problem. At what point will we get an honest, expanded study (and due process) so future generations of Greenpointers do not experience and/or are afflicted with what our predecessors— such as Ms. Hofmann and Ms. Klementowicz— have witnessed?

If the intransigence and “timetable” I witnessed last night— coupled with Ms. Klementowicz’s piquant observation:

By 2023, we (This being the people doing the complaining at last night’s meeting— Ed. Note.) will be dead.

this will be continued…

*It should be noted a representative of Joe Lentol’s office was present as well. I do not recall her name, but the DOH/DEP panel made note of her arrival.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Promise of a Park

April 21, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 


On April 12, 2009 I wrote (in this post about the park languishing at the end of Manhattan Avenue):

Anyone care to guess when this park will at long last be open to the public? If anyone reading this post knows the answer please speak up via comments or email me at:

missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com

Today someone has stepped up to the plate. Graham writes:

In addition to being a Greenpoint resident, a regular reader and a big fan, I used to freelance for the soon-to-be-shuttered NY Times City Section. (! — Ed. Note) Last fall, I wrote a story about the Manhattan Avenue Waterfront Park in Greenpoint that they decided to hold until spring. Well, since it will never see the Grey Lady’s ink, I thought I’d offer it to you and your readers. Enjoy.

The Promise of a Park

By Graham T. Beck

At the Northern end of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, past the bustling Polish butcher shops and the hip cafes with sandwich-board signs out front, the neighborhood’s main drag dead-ends in a vest-pocket park that sits on the shore of the Newtown Creek.

There are four north-facing benches positioned for dramatic views of the Queensboro Bridge and Long Island City’s skyline. River breezes tousle the decorative grasses and blow loose bits of mulch across the newly installed granite pavers. Empty trash bags whip about in their shiny black cans.

There is, however, no one in the park. It hasn’t been open to the public since it was, in the words of a Department of Design and Construction spokesperson, “substantially completed” in the summer of 2007.

The installation of a railing is to blame, one that would separate the park from the creek. So for more than a year, Greenpoint residents have been barred from their new park by black plastic fencing, jersey barriers and ‘No Trespassing’ signs.

The neighbors are getting restless.

“Before they started building, there was a community-made park there,” said Christine Holowacz, Co-Chair of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning and a neighborhood resident for over 30 years. “It wasn’t much, just a dock, but people went there to fish, to boat, to lunch. It was the area to go, the only place where you could really see the water.”

The park is one small piece of the larger Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Access Plan, a hard-won component of the area’s 2005 rezoning. As such, its long-delayed, opening has resonated strongly with some community members.

“The city came and they made promises to us in 2005. They promised us a park there,” Ms. Holowacz said. “Now we have nothing – not our old park, not the new one – all because of some railing.”

According to Matthew Monahan, of the Department of Design and Construction, the original specifications for the railing were not in full compliance with safety and transportation regulations, so the agency had to go back to the drawing board, then have an appropriate railing fabricated.

“We started on that this past summer,” he said. “It has been frustrating. More so for the community, I’m sure, particularly because you can stand behind the barriers and see the new park, but safety comes first.”

According to Mr. Monahan, the railing should arrive soon, and if the weather is above freezing long enough for workers to grout, it will be installed shortly.

Ms. Holowacz is skeptical. “In Greenpoint we’re surrounded by water, but we’ve never had real access to it, so we’re used to being close but far” she said. “I’ll celebrate when I’m sitting and enjoying my new park.”

So there have you. The first fence was not built up-to-spec. This has since been addressed. If/when will this park open to the public? Well, no one seems to know. I for one agree with Ms. Holwacz: I’ll believe this park’s for real when my ass is firmly planted on one of those futuristic park benches!

Miss Heather

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