To counteract the environmental problems that continue to plague the neighborhood, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) is now in the process of creating an interactive map to mark the “toxic” spots in the neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
The new program is funded by a New York State Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) grant, which requires the group to host at least five educational events for the community to get feedback and continue work on the project.
The first in the series of events kicked off Tuesday night at Bushwick Inlet Park where community members were asked to submit five suggestions for geographic sites or topics they want to examine as part of the interactive map.
Councilmember Steve Levin, whose office will also facilitate in regards to research and feedback while creating the map, kicked off the event offering those present at the meeting a glimpse into the history of the neighborhood and how it might continue to impact the residents even today.
“Knowledge is power,” said Levin. “The more informed the community is, the better it can advocate for itself. We can have a vision for where we want our community to go.”
Mike Schade, a long time neighborhood environmental advocate and a chemical expert provided insight on one such toxic site in the neighborhood – the former Nuhart Plastic Manufacturing site on the corner of Dupont and Franklin Street, which in 2010 was declared a superfund site by the state, and earlier in the summer, as reported by several news organizations, was purchased by a Chinese developer for close to $50 million to construct about 400 apartments, including affordable units.
Even though its been four years since the site received Superfund designation, not much cleanup progress has been made, but as Schade pointed out at the meeting Tuesday night, the purchase of the property could now potentially hasten the clean up – the developers are currently in the process of carrying out a preliminary investigation along with the DEC about the feasibility of the cleanup in regards to the construction.
A report is expected to be prepared by the agency by the end of the year, which will then be followed by an extensive public participation and commentary process about the report.
Nuhart provided a jumping board for NAG to create a comprehensive map for other problematic areas and concerns for neighbors.
Some of the suggestions for the map thrown out at the meeting Tuesday night included the mapping of Brownfield, superfund, and school sites; areas with clusters of waste transfer stations; chronicling lead levels in the ground; and a history of the industries that were in the neighborhood from the past 200 years or more.
The map is still in its early stages of development, and another meeting will be held November 11 to discuss how air pollution may have impacted the neighborhood and how to incorporate that on a map.
NAG is continuing accept suggestions about five potential toxic sites or topics of concern. Those interested should email Jennie Romer at email@example.com.