Brad Lander’s Brownfield of Dreams Part 2: The Councilman’s Shameful Neglect In Mentioning Public Place’s Special Designation
The City-owned six acre Brownfield site near the intersection of Smith and 5th Streets adjacent to the Gowanus Canal was once a Manufactured Gas site and remains critically polluted to this day.
Lander has been pushing for Gowanus Green, the name of this new development for more than ten years. A team of developers has been chosen and the plan for Public Place calls for 1000 units of 100% affordable housing in 30 story buildings . It also calls for a public school, community facilities and open space.
Back in 2008, Gowanus Green was about to move forward. All that was needed was to rezone the land from industrial to mixed-use through the Uniform Land Use Process (ULURP)
The very first scoping hearing took place on December 17, 2008.
And then the Gowanus Canal was declared an EPA Superfund site and the ULURP went no further.
What most local residents did not know at the time because it was not advertised nor mentioned at the hearing, was that Public Place had a very special designation.
A supportive document from April 3, 1974 states:
“City Councilman Thomas J. Cuite and representatives of State Senator Carol Bellamy and Assemblyman Michael Pesce recommended that Public Place designation be adopted in view of the overwhelming demand throughout the community for available open space which should be set aside for public use. Also stressed was the necessity for such space in order to preserve the vitality and stability of the residential neighborhood.”
Yet, the argument can be made that that the heavily polluted former MGP site was given to the community in the 1970’s as parkland to right an environmental wrong committed over decades in our neighborhood. After all, the The City of New York first acquired portions of the former Fulton Municipal Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) in 1938 and returned it to the Gowanus community as a City Park.
Below is a video taken in 2010, in which Brad Lander, when pressed by a Gowanus resident, acknowledged that Public Place ‘had an ususual designation.