Last week, the administrators of the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF) convened at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah on Russell Street, to update residents about the distribution of the funds and discuss how already-funded projects were proceeding.
The meeting was aimed for the most part to residents of Eastern Greenpoint, which is considered the epicenter of the ExxonMobil spill, the settlement which led to the creation of the $19.5 million fund.
The administrators presented attendees with several statistics about ongoing projects, noting that 40 percent of the funding thus far awarded focused on projects that directly impact Eastern Greenpoint and an additional 30 percent or so potentially benefit the community as a whole.
Anna Amato, Principal at P.S. 110 The Monitor School, talked about the benefits the school had received from winning one of the small grants, which allowed the environmental education group Solar One to implement its curriculum at the school.
“The grant helps in the development of stewardship which will enable the students to care for their community,” said Amato. “They’ve learned about the environment in a hands-on way, and I can’t say enough about how future generations of children in the neighborhood will benefit from this.”
Close to $400,000 in funding were awarded to 18 projects as part of the small grant proposals, which also included funds for the Franklin Street Garden, the Java Street Community Garden, and the Greenpoint Reformed Church.
Projects receiving large and legacy grants which range from $25,000 to over $2 million have yet to be selected. 23 projects have submitted large grant proposals and two are seeking legacy grants.
The total funding available is just over $19 million, and these 25 projects are asking for over $35 million. Residents will ultimately help determine which get funded, but a few attendees at the meeting were concerned about important eastern Greenpoint projects being overlooked, such as the reconstruction and renovation of McGolrick Park.
Marcy Boyle, a member of the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance, pointed out that the Park could be excluded from funding because improvements to it may not qualify as environmental benefits under the Fund’s criteria, despite being the main environmental benefit at the epicenter of the neighborhood’s environmental damage. The group might not have a chance to apply for funding next year if the money runs out.
Residents also expressed concerns that GCEF money may be used to fund projects promised by the City during the 2005 rezoning, but not delivered on. The NYC Parks Department has an application pending to purchase land for a promised Box Street park.
The administrators promised to continue working with concerned residents and are hopeful for a new round of funding next year after the remaining projects have been chosen.
For up to date information on voting and project updates visit www.gcefund.org and for further questions call the GCEF Community Liaison Office at 718-389-9044 ext. 15 or email gcefund@@northbrooklyn.org.