LIB/ARCH 2205ID-D930 Learning Places Spring 2020

Professors Montgomery and Leonard

Page 3 of 10

Gowanus Canal Articles Reflection

How could New York do things differently, what does “clean” even mean in 2020, and what right do New Yorkers have to a clean and safe place to live?

Reading the 3 assigned sources I tend to come to the same conclusion as Joseph Alexiou’s article. As he says, “Historically, the landowning industrialists and developers had a hand in the decision making throughout the process.“ The historical display he exposes through out the article indicated no clear progress over the years. Politicians and Developers are more interest in profit and budget cutbacks fo necessary plans engineers have created to allow progress. The very few progress that has been made in hindsight has really been when there is more interest from the people to creat a change. This mostly comes from locals of the area. There for New Yorkers should make allies with developers and push for a more beneficial zoning regulation of the area. They have the monetary power and the locals are the once that will be exposed to these changes.

The zoning change will creat a change in infrastructure and overall environment of Gowanus. According to the Department of City Planing the zoning proposal has been submitted. They say the next step is to have community input on the scope of work, and then an environmental review. It seems like at this point we are in a limbo period between the last community framework meeting last year in April and an environmental analysis to come? In reality the articles leave me with more questions than any concrete conclusion of what can be done to make this a better environment. There is no clear timeline of the next step to take. This just leaves the community to continue to push agencies and elected officials to move things forward. (197-a Plan, hmm?)

Maybe something will be done after sea level rise expose the rotten history of neglect from previous generations and things will start to move at a faster more urgent pace. The reality is that developers will continue to push for there economic gain and the community needs to step up to see this area get better. This needs to happen simultaneously because by the way things are going the canal will never be cleaned before development comes. Lastly, cleaning the canal seams imposible to clean 100 percent of the way given the CSO won’t be able to be contained unless massive container tanks are created to hold it all back. Unsustainable, according to Alexiou.

Reflective Blog

Well after reading the three articles I have made my mind up that the Gowanus Canal will never be clean. The first article gives us some back ground on the Gowanus canal. They have been trying to clean the Gowanus canal for about 156 years. They come up with a plan to clean it see that its to expensive and change the plan to clean the canal for a cheaper one. As are trip to the canal we can tell its very polluted. It has a bad odor and personally I would not move near the canal. Well for me to say that the canal is clean I need to see clear water. They need to stop the sewer pipes from dumping waste in the canal. As New Yorkers we have every right to clean and protest to the government to clean the canal. We need to come together and show what a beautiful place the canal would be if it was clean. Also how healthy the environment would be, and the people living there.

Gowanus Canal Article Reflection

Writer Alexious provided a well-needed description of the history for the Gowanus which included the exposing the push and pull between the community/ environmental concerns and the developers concerns and interest. While the developers were only looking for real estate to build and looking out for their wallet, the community was and still is begging for a clean environment. When asked how can New York do things differently, it’s my believe that getting on the same page seems crucial! In all decisions, compromises must be made, it is essential to create a plan even one to simply begin to tackle the pollution of the Gowanus canal as without it, we’ll never get anywhere. Alexious stated the city pollution adds to the problem of the Gowanus canal, especially the CSO. To me, this means its the city hurting it’s Brooklyn residents and simply leaving them to punish, While it’s agreed, living in New York is hard and finding somewhere to live extremely difficult that does not mean we should let New Yorkers suffer and risk their health in the very place they live. Simply because some people cannot afford to live in certain neighborhoods does not mean they should have to put up with a disgusting and unsafe environment.  It’s my firm belief that just as we have a right to a safe workplace, it should be critical for the people of any city (not just Brooklyn) to have a safe living environment especially when it’s the city and government’s lack of action which made the environment and area hazardous! Clean should mean your health isn’t at risk from simply being outside or after a simple rain storm! When we visited the Gowanus canal in the winter the smell was horrid, I cannot imagine the condition of the community around the canal during the hot summers.

Prompt Response

Alexiou offers an overview of the tensions between development and environment while expressing doubt that current practices will ever result in a cleaned-up, safe environment. The Gowanus Planning Study is an overview of a plan to rezone (or upzone) the neighborhood to allow denser residential development. How could New York do things differently, what does “clean” even mean in 2020, and what right do New Yorkers have to a clean and safe place to live? Your reflection could offer a critique of current NYC zoning practices, a critique of the Gowanus draft study, and/or a critique of the EPA cleanup efforts under the Superfund project.

New York could do things differently by putting more effort into projects for the canal before adding housing. It puts a lot of residents at health risk, but it seems that the focus is always on making money instead of making a cleaner, livable environment. If housing was put in a place that is hazardous for floods and the like, money could be made off of individuals paying for repairs or frequent health checkups. In “The Gowanus Canal will never be clean”, the city deliberately denies working on the canal, and I feel it is because it doesn’t seem that serious enough and it won’t provide any other substantial benefits. I feel like “clean” means decent enough in NYC. If it’s not killing anybody at a concerning rate, then it’s “nothing to worry about.” A majority of the five boroughs have been riddled with trash and the streets are only being cleaned for so long until things start getting noticeably uncanny.  I feel that New Yorkers have every right to a clean a safe environment that they live in and pay taxes for. If somebody fell in and eventually came out undead – or something of that nature came out of it as a creation – NYC will be the cause of an apocalypse.

Gowanus Canal reflection

New York could do things differently by studying from the mistakes in the past and be more focused on the cleaning process. First, the government has to see this issue as a serious one. Second, corruption needs to be gone. And the last is that the unity of the community has to be strong. After reading those three sources, I can see that they have many great ideas of cleaning up the canal, but not once the solution has come true. According to Joseph Alexiou, he said, “..the fix is ineffective and often makes the problem worse. Those responsible then throw up their hands and back away quietly, hoping that the next generation of decision-makers will fix it.” The excellent solution is the zoning plan. It actually worked in Manhattan, and it will work for the Gowanus canal, but because it will cost too much money, the government decided to ignore the issues. The problems of the canal continue to kill the residents without any care of the government. It is also clear that the issue isn’t only in the water but in the air. The word ‘clean’ does not only mean the quilty and the outlook of the canal, but it is the development around the area. Make sure that it is safe for people to live their lives around the canal and care more about the citizens who live there.

Gowanus Reflective Blog Post

The 3 pieces of information I have read are extremely valuable for my teams outline and for source material. The opinion piece by Joseph Alexiou, author of Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal is exactly what I would expect from someone who understands in depth the issues the neighborhood is facing. It’s unfortunate that the opinion piece believes that the canal will never be cleaned up. My team will attempt to address this matter and research ways that the canal has been improved even slightly. An interesting excerpt I found was “One answer is because people will live anywhere, they can in New York because the rent is so high. Another is that we really do need the housing — perhaps so much so that it’s worth putting some 800 people in harm’s way during a major weather event. What is certain is that the developers want it, and now, before any further cleanup issues arise.” I think Alexiou’s point is interesting and it’s a problem that isn’t exclusive to just Gowanus but rather the entire city. The booklet on the other hand, as someone who has a basic understanding of these topics, has given me an even more precise and exact explanation of zoning and rezoning. The Gowanus Planning Study addresses the reality that the neighborhood is being up zoned as we speak. Another excerpt from Alexiou’s opinion piece that is relevant to the study was “Not because the people involved are monsters who don’t like a clean environment, but because they fall prey to the same forces that have always called all the shots in this city: the civic power brokers and real estate developers.” My team coincidently addresses the issue of developers and how they have disproportionate power in the zoning, construction and even who gets affordable housing. Evidently the power is in the hands of the developers and powerful and it has been the case even in the canal’s inception. It was corruptly mishandled by public officials and left for the upcoming generation to handle rather than being accountable for the mismanagement. Even in current times, the canal is woefully disrespected and unfortunately we are prioritizing profit rather than progress.

Gowanus blog post

In my own personal research there have been multiple plans created by the city  to clean up the Gowanus Canal for many years and nothing has been done. New Yorkers deserve a clean canal because its essential to healthy living. If denser residential developments is the future of the area around the Gowanus Canal than it is more than fair to also have a clean place to live free of hazardous waste.  According to the Joseph Alexiou article complaints date back to 1861 with reports of causing illness to people.  In all those years not much has been done to resolve the nasty sewage problem. I think New York could do things differently by looking back to the systems in place to contain the current waste and see what else can be done better to contain the smells and fumes coming from the water. Do i ever believe it will be clean? no. but i do believe that with the right motivation and plan the city can move toward a more effective way to contain/control the waste the surrounding structures produce.

Gowanus Canal Article Reflection

According to Joseph Alexiou article, the Gowanus Canal has been in Brooklyn for 158 year and we the people have polluted this canal where cleaning it is  nearing impossible or too expensive to do anything. Over the year we the people started to build factory, which dumping oil or chemical into the canal was ok and later it fix itself. Throughout year design to clean the canal fail due to poor engineering or overflowing from rain. What could us New Yorkers could have done differently? For starter we could of just pay attention on the long-term effect on us dumping into the canal.  Another idea is if the people who live around the area Brooklyn could have made donate on saving the canal and push hard for the governor or government to pay attention. The word “clean” in 2020 meaning keep your area from being dirty mess into healthy or polish area. New Yorker rights to have to a clean and safe place is like no hot spot for crime and no trash line around your streets.

Jake Collado Gowanus Blog Post for Assignment Due on the 7th of April.

This is a reupload of the post I originally posted on Team 4’s page.

To answer the question “How could NY do things differently” would to first understand what was in place originally. According to writer Joseph Alexiou, a combined Sewage overflow system is in place of the area but later alternatives such as the gallon retention tanks, sponge parks, and rerouted sewer systems. The writer mentions that the city spends a budget of a billion dollars just for the tank portion while the entire project of Mayor Bloomberg’s Department of Environmental protection plan was estimated 500 million. The question of how NY could do things differently would be dependent on the infrastructure of the canal’s pipeline. The Victorian era construction and water runoff from the rain running down the streets allow a situation of more polluted water to cause a standstill of trash and bacteria in the water. The situation of the black mayonnaise that is sitting in the bottom of the canal also relates to the lack of clean flowing water running continuously alongside the use of the flushing tunnels. An approach for the canal would be to drain the canal, purify the tainted water while isolating and removing the garbage and tar mess would have to be an expensive environmental project.

“Clean” in 2020 does not only mean the quality of the water, but “Clean” also is the state that the area has been reformed and changed while adapting the close proximity of the polluted area. “Clean” is a word to state that the abundance of coexisting areas will affect each correspondent positively or negatively.

The right that New Yorkers have to a clean and safe place to live depends on the area of zoning that the resident has been researching. The Gowanus canal, while in the state of commercial and residential renovation and gentrification has a long history of industrial context. The right that the New Yorkers have to live and a clean and safe place to live is standard to anybody who wishes to reside, the area of the gowns has an average lot size of 20×100 with downzoning in effect in certain parts of the area.

Gowanus Reflection

Joseph Alexiou provided details on the historical development and environmental issues of the Gowanus Canal. He also expressed doubt that the Gowanus will ever be cleaned. Joseph mentioned in the article “In 1999, the city finally began to repair the Flushing Tunnel just as Carroll Gardens and Park Slope were coming truly desirable to big real estate and expensive places to live. It was the “if you build it, they will come,” mentality of cleaning up toxic waste sites.” This brings me to the question of what is the definition of clean? The definition of clean is to be free from dirt or pollution and free from contamination or disease as defined by Merriam-Webster. Repairing a flushing tunnel does not solve the issue of the contamination in the water. NYC rezoning practices are mainly concerned about money making rather than the health of individuals. Everyone deserves to live in a clean and safe place. Without clean air and water people are at a higher risk of becoming sick and unwell. The idea of cleaning up the Gowanus Canal has been as ongoing issue and I can say that not much has been done. What is going to happen 50 years down the road? Will the city be repeating the same old mistakes? Will the Gowanus ever be cleaned? I believe that before the city continues with the rezoning they need to seriously clean up the canal. People living by the water will pay lots of money to live in the area, not fully understanding the big issues of the Gowanus. They cannot continue down the same path, something needs to be done now.

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