Monday, April 23, 2007

Future of Toxic Public Place Site "Not Predetermined"

Public Place From Smith-9th

There was another meeting last week about the future of the so-called Public Place site in Gowanus, the highly toxic parcel between Smith Street and the Gowanus Canal. It was once the site of a former Manufactured Gas Plant and is one of the more toxic parcels in Brooklyn, with contamination reaching as deep as 120 feet. An earlier meeting had resulted in hostile reactions from some residents concerned about, among other things, the safety of putting housing on such a deeply polluted site. Many resident prefer the land to be used as a park; some have even expressed a desire to use of the land for parking. In any case, city officials are now saying the site's future has not been "predetermined," despite the fact that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is the lead agency and that it's mission is to produce housing.

We were unable to attend the meeting, which is why we did not report on it earlier. The Carroll Garden Courier has a story in its new edition. Here's a sample:
A plan for the future of a massive, contaminated Carroll Gardens property has not been predetermined, and the community’s collective voice could help shape development there, city officials insisted this week.

After being rebuked by members of Community Board 6 when last they visited Brooklyn, officials from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) enjoyed a more congenial gathering Tuesday night at the board’s headquarters, 250 Baltic Street.

Instead of running through a timetable of how development may proceed—as happened previously—HPD officials instead led small discussion groups asking residents and interested parties what they feel should come to the 11.5-acre site, a brownfield known as Public Place, located at the southeast corner of Smith and 5th Streets.

Suggestions included affordable housing, senior housing, a supermarket, light manufacturing, retail, park, a multigenerational community center, and even a hockey rink.

HPD’s Gabriella Amabile said previous plans were “illustrative only” and that the project, as it stands, is a “completely open book.”

Not everybody is convinced that the plan is as open-ended as it is being presented.

“Everyone thinks there’s a fix,” said Bette Stoltz, a member of the board’s Land Use Committee and executive director of the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation, a business advocacy group.
The same small group format for a Gowanus planning meeting on Thursday night resulted in a peaceful, even polite, session. Many more meetings to come.

Related Posts:
Burden Calls Gowanus "Great, Unique" Opportunity at Polite Rezoning Meeting
Gas Pains: Underground Toxic Threat in Gowanus, Other Neighborhoods

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