Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Moment In Time: The Balloon Man

The ballon man of Carroll Park.
He has put smiles on kids' faces for several years now.

Always A Treat To See: An Opened Carroll Street Bridge

(photo credit: Elizabeth Kenney)

Maintenance work is being performed this week on the landmarked Carroll Street Bridge. Built in 1889, the retractable  bridge, one of only four such bridges left in the country, spans the Gowanus Canal.  
Friend and neighborhood resident Elizabeth Kenney took the photos above yesterday, when the bridge had been swung open so that maintenance work could be performed
She writes: "Always a treat to see."

Strangely, while crossing the bridge at Union Street, Elizabeth came across an FDNY Explosives team "They were walking over the Union Street Bridge and looking around, but then they continued to Bond Street. Not sure what they were up to."
Does anyone know something about this?

Thanks for sharing the photos, Elizabeth.

Below as a photo from 1900, showing the Carroll Street Bridge from the Municipal Archive.

Local Students Learn About Plants, Earthworms And Volunteering In Carroll Park

Several Kindergarten and First Grade classes of the International School Of Brooklyn, which is located at 477 Court Street, took a little field trip to Carroll Gardens this morning to learn about dirt, earthworms and plants.
Gary Dolan, president of Friends of Carroll Park was on hand with gloves and trovels, which the kids used to loosen the dirt so that they could add worms to the earth.
The children learned about the benefit of worms to the plants in the park and were obviously delighted by the wiggly creatures. They also learned how to pot a little marigold, which they got to take home.
Hopefully,  the students will have a new appreciation for the earthworms and for the plantings in Carroll Park.

Thanks, Gary, for taking the time to teach the next generation about nature. Hopefully they will, one day, become park volunteers!

The 38th Annual Court Street Festival Will Be Held This Sunday

Whatever your plans for this week-end, don't miss the Court Street Festival on Sunday, May 1th. Court Street will be closed from Union Street to 9th Street to make room for about 200 vendors. There will be children's rides and music and lots of food. It starts at 12 and will go till 6 Pm.
See you there?

The Court Street Festival has been a yearly event in Carroll Gardens for the past 38 years. So come out and enjoy a fun day in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Court Tree Collective Presents "Everyday Homestyle Vietnamese Cooking"

 (photo courtesy of Court Tree Collective)

Court Tree Collective will once again host a great evening of cooking at its space at 371 Court Street right here in Carroll Gardens.  The theme of this event it Vietnamese food and will take place on May 5th, 2016 between 7 and 9 pm.

Below are all the details:
Court Tree Collective and The Art of Pho proudly present Everyday Homestyle Vietnamese Cooking with chef Isabelle Nguyen. Isabelle has done numerous Pop Ups in and around Brooklyn, including a few at Court Tree. This is the first time we have collaborated together and we are super excited to do so. Isabelle's style of cooking and clean cuisine is truly an art form. 

Hands on: Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Demo: Quick Chicken Pho
Demo: Coconut Sticky Rice with Fruit

These dishes are designed for easy cooking and is a good introduction for those who are not familiar with Vietnamese food.
These dishes are kid-friendly.
These dishes are gluten free.
Cooking class is approx. one hour.
Food will be served family style at the end.
Each person will get a small pho spice packet at the end of the class.

A Moment In Time: Approaching Storm

Approaching storm #carrollgardens #mybrooklynlife #ohno
Chance of a thunderstorm: 90%

Picture Of The Day: Canal Cat, Canal Goslings

Little tuxedo cat spotted on an excursion on the Gowanus Canal yesterday.
Spotted at the 5th Street turning Basin
Thanks to Sean, Captain John and Leah of Riverkeeper for the boat excursion.

Here is another 'Gowanus Wildlife' photo, this one of a pair of geese with two little ones. Captain John explained to me that many of the little goslings born next to the Gowanus do not survive because their feathers get caked with oil and the coal tar that bubbles up from the bottom of the polluted waterway. Sadly, he has fished out quite a few that did not make it.
surface of the water right near where the goslings were swimming.

Solution To A Problem Or Problem To A Solution? Community Left Wondering About EPA's Gowanus Canal Settlement Agreement With New York City

Walter Mugdan, Superfund Director for EPA Region2
Marlene, member of Friends And Resident of Greater Gowanus, who expressed concerns about the agreement between EPA and DEP on the siting of the CSO tank
Philip Warren, Studio General Manager of Eastern Effects at 270 Nevins Street, one of the sites that may be taken by eminent domain, despite the fact that it contributes millions to the local economy.
Diane Buxbaum. local resident

Notes on last night's EPA community meeting regarding agreement with New York City 
On The Siting Of CSO Tank  at Top Of Gowanus Canal

When the Environmental Protection Agency placed the Gowanus Canal on its National Priorities list, the Agency estimated that the environmental clean-up of our toxic waterway would cost $500 million and last 10 to 12 years.
Why then, is EPA now willing to sign a Settlement Agreement with New York City, one of the responsible polluters, that will allow the City to delay the entire Superfund clean-up by four years, and will cost  $510 million just for just one of two overflow retention tanks that the City needs to build in order to keep raw sewage out of the canal.

How did we get to the point where EPA seems to be bending backwards to accommodate New York City, which has used the Gowanus Canal as an open sewer for the past 150 years?
This is what local residents came to find out last night at a community meeting held by the EPA to explain the settlement agreement which it is about to sign with the City.

After giving a brief timeline of the Gowanus Canal Superfund clean-up, Walter Mugdan  gave a detailed presentation that  focused mainly on the agreement that was released to the public on April 14.
"This is as complicated an administrative order under the Superfund program that we have ever been involved with," Mugdan told the audience.

The focus of the agreement is on one of two mandated in-line retention tanks near outflow RH-034 at the head of the canal. The tank is a vital component of the clean-up and will capture Combined Sewage Overflow that, up to now, has just been dumped into the Gowanus during periods of heavy rain.
Since this overflow is laced with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, these tanks are an important source control measure to make sure that the canal does not get re-polluted after it is dredged and capped.

The EPA had suggested that New York City place the RH-034  tank under the Double D Pool at Thomas Greene Park, because it presented  "potential synergies associated with anticipated removal of coal tar from beneath the Park site".  These synergies, according to EPA, could "save time in Site acquisition and save significant construction costs" since National Grid will have to excavate the site anyhow.

The City, on the other hand, wants to site the tank on two privately owned lots adjacent to the canal, directly across from Thomas Greene Park. To do so, New York City intends to seize by eminent domain 334 Butler Street and 242 Nevins Street.  It also expects to either lease or purchase the building at 270 Nevins Street currently occupied by Eastern Effects.  The cost of these three parcels would exceed  $100 million dollars.

The main argument given by the City for siting on the privately owned land at the head of the canal is that it wants to avoid longer disruption or permanent loss (alienation) of parkland at Thomas Green Park.  To justify this claim, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection has, according to EPA,  "excessively designed" the tank, but has also invented the need for a large 3-story head house.

Obviously, the City's park alienation argument has swayed the EPA administration enough to allow the City to move forward with the plan, though Walter Mugdan reiterated that his agency" strongly prefers the park location over the two privately held parcels" and that  "EPA believes construction of the RH034 tank at the Park location could be done more quickly, more easily, and at less expense than the head-of-the-Canal location."
However, Mugdan explained that the Federal Agency still believes that the proposed agreement and order is "a favorable outcome for EPA".

The Agreement gives the City four years to acquire the land, design the tank, remediate the contaminated soil, and prepare the site.
It stipulates monetary penalties if New York City fails to comply and commits DEP to dredge the CSO-related sediment that may accumulate after the Canal is cleaned but before the CSO tank is completed. Most  importantly,  the City waives the right to take legal action "related to the selection of the CSO controls contained in the 2013 Record of Decision."
In addition, New York City is required to simultaneously design a tank for the Park location as a contingency should it become necessary to change from the head-of-the canal location in the event that City falls behind schedule.

The Agreement does NOT include a final timeline for the actual building of the tank, nor does it mention the construction of the smaller tank near outflow OH-007 or specify the mandated size of the tanks (8 million gallon tank for RH-034 and 4 million for OH-007.)

It is especially surprising that the Agreement does not mention the generous offer by the owners of both 334 Butler Street and 242 Nevins Street, who, in order to avoid losing their properties through eminent domain, were willing to donate parts of their parcels to the City to offset the potential loss of parkland if the City were to site the OH-034 tank in Thomas Greene Park.
That would, to many local residents be a win for the landowners,  a win for the City and, most of all, a win for the community.

The EPA will wait to sign the agreement until the end of the (newly extended) public comment period on May 31.  According to Mugdan, EPA is moving forward with it, "unless you [the public] think you have a better mousetrap."

As someone who actively supported the listing of the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, as a member of the EPA Community Advisory Group from its inception five years ago, and as someone who has raised two children just two blocks away from the polluted waterway, I am truly amazed that the EPA would allow the City to callously prolong the clean-up, which means that local residents are unnecessarily exposed to toxins longer than they have to be.

Back in February 2011, EPA Adminsitrator Judith Enck appeared in front of the Gowanus community surrounded by the Region 2 team she put in charge of designing the remedy for the Superfund clean-up. In front of the same audience in the same auditorium at PS 32, she declared: "Your canal is in good hands. You have the best and brightest EPA talent working on this."
Five years later, we still have the brightest EPA talent trying to get the canal cleaned up, but they seem to be hindered by their boss, Ms. Enck, who has allowed politics, and not engineering to prevail.  She has undermined her own team by caving in to the City's questionable arguments and agreeing to their over-designed, needlessly expensive plans.

I felt sorry for Walter Mugdan last night.  He did a reasonably good job trying to convince the community that this agreement between EPA and DEP is a good deal for Gowanus, but it was clear from questions and comments made last night that most residents were confused and disappointed by EPA's sudden meekness towards the City, one of the largest canal polluters.

At the end, once again, the community is asked to be patient while politicians and lawyers take over the conversation and drive the agenda. How very foolish and sad this all is.  I hope you will join me in submitting comments to EPA demanding that science, engineering and common sense be allowed to rule.

Yes, there is a better mousetrap. We just need to demand it.

Your comments can be mailed or emailed to: Walter Mugdan, U.S. EPA Superfund Director 290 Broadway, Floor 19, New York, N.Y., 10007

To read the agreement between the EPA and New York City, please visit:
or visit EPA’s document repository located at the Carroll Gardens Library at 396 Clinton St. in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Another Successful 'Bark Avenue' Pet Adopt-A-Thon In Carroll Park

The third 'Bark Avenue' pet adoption event in Carroll Park this past Sunday was another huge success and I am happy to report that several dogs and cats found their forever homes yesterday.

At the event, rescues get to shine with a walk down a red carpet and they certainly seemed to enjoy the attention. They obviously also enjoyed all the hugs and kisses they received from adults and children in the park.

Neighborhood pet owners also came out in force to show their support and to take advantage of the free photo booth sponsored by Mobile Mutts, dog training advice by Rob Haussman of Dogboy, and to communicate with their pouch with a pet reading by animal talker Sue Pike.

Thank you to Sugar Mutts, Animal Care And Control of NYCASPCA, Second Chance Rescue NYC, Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, and Ready For Rescue for all the hard work. A special shout out also to all the volunteers who foster and take such good care of these lovely animals.
And a big round of applause to Marion Fiore, who organized the event.

If you adopted a cat or dog at  yesterday Bark Avenue adopt-a-thon, please keep us informed on how things are going and consider sending PMFA a photo of your new pet.

Marion Fiore sent us the names of the dogs that fund a home as a result of the event:
Emmy -, the Chiwawa
Gambino - Aka Crook - a Shepard mix with a broken jaw
Cricket & Sprout - mom and son cheweenies
Ms. Piggy - a terrier mix
and Jessie -a pit bull