Greenpoint Gazette

Community to Get its Final Shot at Determining Enviro Benefits

BY Jeff Mann

This is it, Greenpoint.

 

Your last chance to weigh-in on the best use for the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF) money comes next week in the form of three preferencing events.

 

GCEF was funded in a 2010 settlement between ExxonMobil and then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, over Exxon’s Greenpoint oil spill. For its part, ExxonMobil paid $25 million, including $250,000 in civil penalties, $250,000 for natural resources damages and $5 million for oversight costs.

 

An additional $19.5 million was paid into an environmental benefits fund created by the Office of the Attorney General (AG) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for projects that address the community’s environmental priorities, such as enhancing open space, greening neighborhoods, restoring the waterfront and promoting environmental education.

 

In March 2014, $395,135 in “small” grants (less than $25,000 each) was awarded to 18 projects with an additional $196,916 in matching funds contributed by the grantees.

 

The following December, $11 million in “large” and “legacy” grants ($25,000 or greater) was handed out to six environmental improvement projects. The funded projects were the top choices based on community preferencing. More than 500 residents cast their ballots for proposals deemed feasible by an independent review group. The $11 million in GCEF grants was combined with $23.8 million in matching contributions from the grant recipients.

 

The balance of the fund was set aside for a second round of financing.

 

That round began last week, when $980,000 was handed out to 17 Environmental Improvement Projects. That “small grant” funding was combined with $522,013 in matching funds, for a total of $1,500,142, bringing to more than $35 million the overall money invested in environmental projects in Greenpoint through GCEF. After next week’s final round, that number is expected to break $40 million.

 

This time around though, when the money is gone, it’s really gone. The AG’s office has confirmed that it will completely exhaust the money this round by continuing to fund projects down the preferencing list until it runs out.

 

Nine projects are on the ballot for next week’s three “Large” and “Legacy” grant preferencing events, including a major overhaul of McGolrick Park, the transformation of Gilroy Field in McCarren Park into a sustainable, high performance urban athletic turf field, and development of a final ecological design for a green/living shoreline restoration at the proposed site of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum building. As in the previous round, each proposal was deemed feasible by an independent review group before making the ballot.

 

“From the outset, the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund has been a close collaboration between the State and the Greenpoint community,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.  “The upcoming ‘preferencing’ events provide a final opportunity for Greenpoint residents to ensure GCEF funds are directed to their priorities.  I hope that all Greenpointers take advantage of this opportunity to continue charting a greener, healthier future for their community.”

 

Greenpoint Community Preferencing events: Thursday, November 19, 1:00PM – 2:30PM / 6:00PM – 8:30PM, Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble Street AND Saturday, November 21, 10:00AM – 3:00PM, Polish National Home, aka “Warsaw,” 261 Driggs Avenue. For more information, visit http://gcefund.org/.

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