Whole Foods Still Giving Park Slope the Cold Shoulder
We're not sure what has motivated Whole Foods to blatantly give a cold shoulder to Park Slope residents requesting that it consider a transportation plan and a green roof for its planned Gowanus store. Yet, the food retailer--which prides itself on being environmentally friendly--continues rejecting requests for improvements at the store, which would be built on a toxic site at Third Avenue and Third Street about which there are serious lingering safety questions.
No one is entirely sure what is going on at the site. No work has gone on there in months, and the piles of contaminated soil covered by tarps have not moved. Groundwater still sits in large pools on the parcel. (There are quiet rumblings, here and there, that a wave of expansion has left the retailer a little strapped for cash.)
Whole Foods has "yet to respond in any meaningful way to anything the community has put forth," says Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors, which has mounted a petition drive to convince the retailer to make the Gowanus mega-store a "greener" enterprise. The retailer, in turn, has been pretty consistent in saying 'no way.'
The 64,000 square foot store is tentatively slated to open in Summer 2008, which could be a very ambitious schedule given the complexity of construction on a site adjacent to the Gowanus Canal with a variety of groundwater and toxic issues including carcinogenic benzene leaching into the site from an unidentified source. Council Members David Yassky and Bill DeBlasio are said to be supportive of neighborhood efforts to sway Whole Foods to do more transportation planning plan and to create a green roof. Because Whole Foods is building most of the store below street level, it requires no city approval to move ahead with construction.
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