$625k Grant Awarded for Newtown Creek Brownfields Remediation

We've told you about Newtown Creek, one of the most polluted waterways in North America, here and here with video. According to an announcement out today, the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance have received an award of $625,454 in New York State Brownfields Opportunity Area ("BOA") funding for a community-driven planning and redevelopment analysis of Newtown Creek and surrounding contaminated sites in Queens and Brooklyn. The State Department of State awarded a total of $7.25 million to 50 local governments and community groups across New York under the BOA program. The Newtown Creek BOA project received the largest award of all the recipients and will launch in late spring to early summer. Basil Seggos, Riverkeeper's Chief Investigator:

This is exciting news for Newtown Creek and its communities. The grant will enable residents and businesses to chart a course for a cleaner waterway, new parks, expanded economic opportunities, and the cleanup of toxic sites. A bright future for this once-forgotten waterway is within reach.

Enjoy your trip up sh*t's creek with a paddle when you read on for the complete announcement : )::: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :::

$625k Grant Awarded For Brownfields Remediation Planning Around Newtown Creek
State Money to Fund Community Work of GMDC, Riverkeeper & Newtown Creek Alliance

The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance have received an award of $625,454 in New York State Brownfields Opportunity Area ("BOA") funding for a community-driven planning and redevelopment analysis of Newtown Creek and surrounding contaminated sites in Queens and Brooklyn.

Funds will be utilized to assess redevelopment opportunities for contaminated sites along the Creek pursuant to intensive community input, emphasizing high-performance, environmentally sustainable industrial uses, parks and wetlands creation, and improved environmental infrastructure. The study will examine the watershed as a whole in an effort to improve the environmental condition of both the land and water. The Newtown Creek study area includes portions of Long Island City, Maspeth, Greenpoint, East Williamsburg, and Bushwick.

"GMDC is thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance on the Newtown Creek BOA," said Brian Coleman, GMDC's CEO. "This planning process will represent a critical step toward reclaiming polluted sites around the Creek for sustainable industrial uses, open space and recreation."

"This is exciting news for Newtown Creek and its communities," said Basil Seggos, Riverkeeper's Chief Investigator. "The grant will enable residents and businesses to chart a course for a cleaner waterway, new parks, expanded economic opportunities, and the cleanup of toxic sites. A bright future for this once-forgotten waterway is within reach."

"For six years the Newtown Creek Alliance has taken significant steps toward cleaning up Newtown Creek, and has been able to do so wholly through the dedication of members and volunteers," said Katie Schmid, coordinator of the Newtown Creek Alliance. "This money will allow us to progress even further towards making a cleaner Newtown Creek an asset to New York City residents and businesses."

Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted waterways in North America, a legacy of more than a century of heavy industrial use. It is the site of a 55 acre, 17 million gallon oil spill dating back to the 1950s, one of the largest in U.S. history. At least 6 state-listed superfund sites are in the immediate vicinity of the Creek, and dozens of other sites are contaminated from former or current uses. More than 2.7 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater discharge into the Creek each year. One hundred percent of the Creek's historic 1.5 square miles of tidal wetlands have been lost. There is only active park on the Creek.

GMDC, Riverkeeper and NCA will work closely with existing property owners, local residents, businesses, and City and State officials to identify sites and uses that contribute to the environmental, economic and physical degradation of the Creek and its environs. Through these partnerships, the BOA will create opportunities for environmental remediation, sustainable industrial practices and redevelopment of underutilized and contaminated sites for a variety of uses benefiting the surrounding communities.

The BOA program, created in 2003 along with the State's Brownfield Cleanup Program, is an innovative planning program that provides communities with financial assistance to facilitate the collection of basic information about an area blighted with brownfields. The program provides assistance to identify, prepare, create, develop, and assemble information to be included in an application to "nominate" an area as a BOA. The program also provides financial assistance for site assessments performed in designated BOAs.

Designation of an area as a BOA can provide other benefits. For example, projects located within the BOA can receive priority and preference when considered for financial assistance under some State, federal or local programs, and may receive preference in infrastructure improvements. A BOA designation is likely to help attract redevelopment interest because of the community support that underlies a BOA plan.

The State Department of State awarded a total of $7.25 million to 50 local governments and community groups across New York under the BOA program. The Newtown Creek BOA project received the largest award of all the recipients. The Newtown Creek BOA will launch in late spring to early summer.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said: "Newtown Creek has suffered enough, as the site of our nation's largest oil spill and the victim of decades of neglect. It's far past time to recognize that this is one of New York's most serious environmental health issues and must be addressed as such. I strongly support the Greenpoint community in their efforts to revitalize the waterway. In the hands of these dedicated groups, I am confident the state funding will go far toward identifying and achieving real improvements."

New York State Senator Martin Malave Dilan said: "The lingering contamination of Newtown Creek at the border of Brooklyn and Queens has been a heavy burden for communities in North Brooklyn and Queens to bear. I am pleased the Department of State has awarded this Brownfields Opportunity Area grant which allows us to finally take significant steps to clean and remediate these areas in a way that benefits and improves the quality of life for the residents of the areas surrounding Newtown Creek and all of New York City."

New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said: "I am absolutely thrilled at this news. This grant could not be going to a more dedicated or talented group of people. I am sure that this will have an enormous positive impact on our community and on the environment as a whole. I look forward to working with these groups to improve our neighborhood and our waterways."

New York State Assemblyman Vito Lopez said: "As a sponsor of the BOA legislation and a leading advocate for environmental protection, I am proud of the awards of over $30 million in New York State, $15 million of which will be awarded to groups in New York City. I am especially happy that over $625,000 in BOA funding has been delivered to Newtown Creek communities. Working together with Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Senator Martin Dilan, we once again were able to bring important state funding to worthwhile projects."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said: "Thanks to the collective efforts of the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance, we take a major step closer to a waterfront that is the pride of Brooklyn—and not a terrible reminder of the negligence of big oil."

New York City Council Member David Yassky said: "The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, Riverkeeper and the Newtown Creek Alliance have begun to transform one of New York's most polluted waterways. Infused with extensive community input, this unique partnership is poised to lay out a bold vision for a cleaner creek and more vibrant communities. When the transformation is complete, it will be one of the more remarkable triumphs of the environmental movement."

New York City Council Member Eric Gioia said: "The BOA Award is a great step forward in the revitalization of Newtown Creek and a chance for Brooklyn and Queens residents to reclaim their waterfront. For far too long, Newtown Creek has been the overlooked dumping ground of New York City. This grant will allow neighborhood groups - who know the area best - to proactively plan for the future."

Brooklyn Community Board 1 Environmental Committee Chair Evan Thies said: "Newtown Creek should be a tremendous resource, not a terrible burden to the people of Brooklyn and Queens. This funding puts us one big step closer to finally cleaning up this waterway and giving this community the environment it deserves."

Queens Community Board 2 Environmental Committee Chair Dorothy Morehead said: "Newtown Creek has been the neglected stepchild in New York City's waterfront development. The time has come for it to be recognized as the vital waterway is it and to reverse the abuse of decades."

Partners
The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center is New York City's premier nonprofit developer of industrial and artisanal production space. It currently owns and manages approximately 700,000 square feet of space in five buildings, including a 300,000 square foot property at the mouth of Newtown Creek in Greenpoint. During the last 15 years of work in North Brooklyn, GMDC has developed strong relationships with a variety of local businesses, residents, community organizations and constituencies, including the 100 businesses that are current tenants in GMDC buildings. gmdconline.org
Riverkeeper, Inc., a 40-year-old nonprofit committed to protecting New York's Hudson River watershed and its tributaries, has been Newtown Creek's chief watchdog since 2002. Riverkeeper is a co-founder of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and has conducted hundreds of water, land, and aerial patrols of the Creek, involving over 1,000 community members and stakeholders. It has played a leading role in confronting ExxonMobil on the cleanup of the 17 million gallon Newtown Creek oil spill, and has performed extensive planning, survey and community outreach work along the Creek during the last six years. riverkeeper.org
The Newtown Creek Alliance, founded in 2002, is a consortium of community advocates, businesses, nonprofits and elected officials from Queens and Brooklyn who are committed to revitalizing the communities and environment surrounding Newtown Creek. The Alliance is dedicated to restoring community health and quality of life, water quality, habitat, public access, vibrant water-dependent commerce, and promoting the redevelopment of brownfields into clean manufacturing facilities.newtowncreekalliance.org

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