Gowanus Scoping Meeting Next Week, Thursday, April 25

GOWANUS – The NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) is hosting a Scoping Meeting next Thursday, April 25 at M.S. 51 to collect community feedback on the proposed Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning and the Draft Scope of Work which was released in late March.

A view of the Gowanus Canal from the Union Street Bridge (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

Next week’s meeting will kick off at 4pm with a presentation by DCP on the proposed rezoning followed by comments from local elected officials. After that, the floor will be opened to the community for input and comments regarding the city’s rezoning plans. DCP will not answer questions at the event, DCP Project Manager Jonathan Keller explained to Bklyner, only listen to public testimony. Community comments will be heard into the evening, allowing people to arrive at their convenience.

For those who cannot attend, DCP will continue to accept written comments until Monday, May 27th. While an email address is not yet available, hardcopies can be mailed to:

Department of City Planning
Environmental Assessment & Review Division
120 Broadway, 31st Floor
New York, New York  10271

The Draft Scope of Work is the first step in the Gowanus environmental review process when the agency collects community feedback on the proposed plan. The document “lays out proposed methodologies and assumptions” and “identifies the project and the types of environmental analyses that may be performed.” The Draft Scope of Work is intended to help the public understand and participate in the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) as well as assist the agency in preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

DCP created the Draft Scope of Work after releasing the Draft Zoning Proposal in January. The latter was developed to “facilitate a vision for Gowanus’ future that is sustainable, resilient and inclusive, with a mix of uses that support new affordable housing and local economic and job growth,” according to the agency. The documents outline the land use actions the city is seeking for the Gowanus rezoning, which include zoning map amendments, zoning text amendments, City map amendments, and the “disposition of City-owned property” (Public Place and a vacant site on 4th Avenue).

Overall, the proposed rezoning will affect roughly 80 blocks in Gowanus and is expected to create 8,200 new apartment units, including 2,000 permanently affordable units. DCP estimates the rezoning will bring 17,985 new residents to area as well as 3,332 jobs.

In an effort to prepare for next week’s Scoping Meeting, Brooklyn Community Board 6 submitted a list of initial questions to DCP in March which the agency responded to at the board’s last two Land Use Committee meetings, on March 29 and Thursday, April 18. Yesterday’s meeting addressed concerns about Historic Resource Preservation, Housing, Infrastructure/Services, Manufacturing, Mixed Use, Parks, Senior Citizens, Transit and Transportation, and the Waterfront.

Some concerns voiced by locals regarding the proposed rezoning include: a lack of commitment to NYCHA improvements; the impact of increased density to the neighborhood’s ongoing sewage and flooding problems; the lack of a dedicated eco-district; the loss of historic architecture and neighborhood character; the building of affordable housing on a contaminated Superfund site; and more.

In anticipation of the Scoping Meeting, several community organizations presented to CB6 their concerns about the proposed rezoning. “Since the neighborhood plan was unveiled we’ve had numerous presentations offering varying local perspectives,” said CB6 District Manager, Michael Racioppo.

“Kicked off by the Gowanus Landmarking Coalition, they were followed by Gowanus By Design, Gowanus Canal Conservancy, 32BJ, Gowanus Dredgers and most recently the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC) and the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice [click to see each group’s presentation to the community board]. There are also more to come including an in-depth discussion on MIH [Mandatory Inclusionary Housing] with DCP and HPD,” he added.

“For the first time, every one of our committees met this month, a tribute to our members and staff,” Racioppo noted of the significant community engagement sparked by the proposed rezoning. “We are reacting to the plan with an appraisal of progress and continuing concerns from our original letter, and, of course, we will also submit a letter in response to the scoping document.”

Gowanus Scoping Meeting
Thursday, April 25 starting at 4pm
M.S. 51 (350 5th Avenue, between 4th & 5th Streets)

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Pamela Wong

Pam is a staff reporter at Bklyner, covering North-Western parts of Brooklyn. You can reach her at Pamela@bklyner.com. Tips are always welcome. She also writes about art at arthag.typepad.com.


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