Greenpoint is about to move a step closer to reaping the benefits from the largest environmental settlement in New York’s history.
The payout, $19.5 million from ExxonMobil for environmental benefit projects (EBPs) in the neighborhood, is remediation for the company’s disastrous oil spill in Greenpoint. The state is nearly ready to begin the next step in the process of awarding the money, choosing an administrator for the funds. The administrator will screen all EBP proposals and recommend to the state those which are most deserving of funding. The Office of Attorney General (OAG) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will have the ultimate authority to choose the administrator and approve the EBPs that get funded.
After months of meetings and discussion, the OAG and DEC have drawn up a Request for Applications (RFA) for those seeking to serve as General Administrator of the Greenpoint Environmental Benefit Projects Program. Development of the RFA came with significant input from the Community Advisory Panel, a group comprised of Greenpoint community members collaborating with the state in the program.
“The process we went through with the [Community Advisory Panel] in developing this RFA was a very good process, which we thought was very inclusive,” said Peter Washburn of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau. “They helped us not only with the criteria that we have incorporated into the document, but they also helped us review and draft documents, the scoring system we’re going to use, and the weighting of the scoring. In essence, the RFA is a collaborative effort.”
As an example of that cooperation, Washburn noted the panel’s request for a single administrator to oversee all project funding, as opposed to appointing several administrators for separate pots of money. And, in response to requests from the community for a local administrator, Washburn said that the scoring system the AG’s Office uses to choose an administrator will “reward candidates with the greatest knowledge of, and experience working in, the Greenpoint community.” A 2009 consent order against the city resulted in $10 million in EBPs for areas surrounding Newtown Creek. However, many were disappointed by the choice of three organizations with little familiarity to these neighborhoods to administer the funds. Many also objected, saying the substantial administration fees should have stayed in the community.
Richard Mazur, a member of the panel and the Executive Director of the North Brooklyn Development Corporation, recused himself from the process of selecting the General Administrator because his company was involved in some of the project planning. Mazur also stated that the panel has gone to great lengths to ensure a completely transparent and open process since the start of the EBP.
“We’re trying to be as clear as possible in introducing a [General Administrator] that will be committed to the process and above all honest,” said Mazur. “That commitment is very important and the knowledge of the community is very important.”
The deadline for applications is August 22nd. For more information on submitting applications, visit http://www.ag.ny.gov/environmental/greenpoint-environmental-benefit-projects.