Restoring McGolrick Park, creating a combination “green roof” and community space along Newtown Creek and designing a “living shoreline” at the proposed site of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum were among the top vote getters in recent community voting organized by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF).
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the winners of the final round of GCEF grants, Tuesday, bringing to $54.5 million the total investment into Greenpoint environmental projects.
GCEF was funded through 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 and DEC for projects that address the community’s environmental priorities, such as enhancing open space, greening neighborhoods, restoring the waterfront and promoting environmental education.
“The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund was created to help reverse this vibrant community’s historical legacy of environmental abuse and neglect,” said Schneiderman. “Through the GCEF, New York State and Greenpoint residents have worked together to ensure that the settlement monies are directed to high-quality, locally-led projects that serve the community’s environmental improvement priorities.”
GCEF provided two rounds of grant funding, one in 2015 and another in 2014. Tuesday’s announcement of this year’s “large and legacy” grant winners marked the completion of the program’s project funding component.
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.
Last month, $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.
The latest five grant winners will receive a total of $4.25 million, which combined with $12.7 million in matching contributions from the grant recipients, will bring the total investment in improving Greenpoint’s environment to $54.5 million, nearly triple the $19.5 million obtained in the 2011 settlement.
In addition to the improvements to McGolrick and McCarren Parks and the Greenpoint Monitor Museum, the final grant winners announced Tuesday include an urban farm and green infrastructure corridor for McCarren Park and an expansion of the $1.9 million West Street Watershed Stormwater project funded through a GCEF Large Grant in 2014. Descriptions of the winning projects can be found here.
“I have started to see the impact of the GCEF grants in my neighborhood already,” said Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy of the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance. “With funding from the program, the Audubon Society has created a garden in McGolrick Park to attract native birds back to our Park and tree beds along Nassau Avenue have been enlarged to help the trees grow larger. GCEF has made a real and important contribution to my neighborhood and Greenpoint.”
Janice Lauletta-Weinmann, President of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum added, “The Greenpoint Monitor Museum and our project partners The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, PS110, PS 31, PS34, MS126, St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy and Oliver Tilden Camp No. 26 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War look forward to make this project a success to be enjoyed by all for generations to come. John Ericsson and the men of the USS Monitor are happy that they have not been forgotten.”
The GCEF process was administered by North Brooklyn Development Corporation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Among their responsibilities were conducting community outreach to raise awareness of the grant, reviewing and scoring small grant proposals and advising applicants on how to improve their large and legacy grant applications.
The Greenpoint Community Advisory Panel (CAP), an advisory group comprised of Greenpoint residents, representatives of local organizations and elected officials collaborated with the AG, DEC and administrators on the program’s development and implementation.
“From the beginning, the GCEF has been committed to partnering with our community in the design and execution of a program that understands that the residents of this community are also experts when it comes to our own legacy of environmental abuse,” said CAP member Christine Holowacz. “The result has been a truly home grown effort – projects chosen by Greenpoint residents that not only address the community’s environmental priorities but also partner with local community organizations in finding solutions.”
With funding completed, GCEF will now focus on ensuring the projects’ successful implementation.
More information on the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund can be found at www.gcefund.org.