On a Jane's Walk tour of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint industrial waterfront last year, our guide gestured to the luxury-high rises that have sprouted from former industrial areas along Kent Avenue in recent years. "See those buildings? See all the strollers? EVERY SINGLE ONE of their kids is exposed to TOXIC POISON." Though the North Brooklyn neighborhoods are now known for servicing the lifestyle needs of bourgeois bohemians, the cold-press juice shops and midi-ring purveyors are, a new map confirms, laid on a foundation of seriously toxic earth. Yesterday Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) launched their ToxiCity Map, an interactive tool that shows how environmental risks correlate with the neighborhoods' population density, average income, and health outcomes. NAG advocates for policies that promote "healthy mixed-use communities," works with Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents to access the waterfront, and partners with citizens and businesses to reduce area environmental threats. The map was created with the help of a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation grant in partnership with Pratt Institute's Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative (SAVI). The ToxiCity Map lets users pinpoint environmental hazards and gives an idea of how specific hazards could impact a given neighborhood zip code. Waste transfer stations, scrap metal and recycling sorting facilities, for example, are all sites which divert materials from the waste stream but are often surrounded by idling materials delivery trucks that degrade air quality. The location of these facilities can be overlaid onto district asthma rates: The map suggests that the number of waste transfer stations is positively correlated with higher rates of asthma. On the toxic waste side, the map features fine-grained explanations of the difference between, say, highly regulated sites versus "E" designated sites, or spills versus brownfields versus Superfund sites. Handily, the map links to the group's industrial history walking tour, the same one this reporter took last year.
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You won't be able to drink from it anytime soon, but the fetid, toxic shores of the Gowanus Canal will soon be graced with a new park that filters stormwater as it enters the canal. Designed by Brooklyn's dlandstudio in partnership with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park will be an 18,000 square foot public space on city-owned land, where Second Street meets the canal. Due to the canal's Superfund status, multiple federal, state, and city agencies are involved in environmental remediation, on and offshore (see diagram below). The $1.5 million project is publicly and privately funded: New York-based Lightstone Group will bankroll a boat launch for the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club. The developers are planning a 700 unit residential high rise adjacent to the park. Initiated in 2008, the project stalled for seven years as funding was secured. dlandstudio chose plants for their ability to filter out biological toxins from sewage, heavy metals, and other pollutants that overwhelm the canal, especially when it rains. Floating wetlands adjacent to shore will filter runoff further. Due to the canal's Superfund status, multiple federal, state, and city agencies are involved in environmental remediation, on and offshore (see diagram above). The first phase of the park is expected to open early 2016. State and local officials plan for the Sponge Park to be part of a network of green space that will mitigate flood risk while cleaning incoming stormwater.
It has been several years in the making, but now the industrial strip along Brooklyn's polluted Gowanus Canal will finally be transformed into a lush and porous green space aptly named The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park that will soak up and filter rainwater to help improve the overall water quality along the waterway. This $1.5 million project, a collaboration between the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and landscape architecture firm dlandstudio, will finally get off the ground with the help of city, state, and federal funding. While a full esplanade was initially planned for the 1.8-mile stretch along the EPA Superfund site, Bloomberg recently announced that the city's first step will be a scaled-down park right where the canal intersects with Second Street. The park takes its name from its "working landscape." Dlandstudio plans on using plants and soils to soak up toxins and heavy metals from the water. The firm will also employ strategies to reroute storm water run-off to keep the sewer system from overflowing and spilling back into the mucky canal. Floating wetlands will also be implemented to absorb contaminants and toxins from sewage. The Daily News reported that the city plans on breaking ground on the park by 2014, and hopes to open it to the public by summer of 2015.