From City Hall:
Superfund designations at Newtown Creek on the Queens/ Brooklyn border in October and at the Gowanus Canal last March incited panicked waves among developers and city administrators worried over the impact the label could have on growth in the city's most populous borough.
And the worries have only continued to fester, like the gonorrhea in the Gowanus.
The designation at Newtown Creek did not spur as much vocal debate as the Gowanus designation, but there is still potential for the label to have an adverse impact on the city’s hopes for economic development in the area, in Brooklyn and Queens, according to Marc LaVorgna, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office.
The Bloomberg administration openly opposed the Superfund designation at Gowanus, advocating for an alternate cleanup plan that would allow prospective developers to voluntarily contribute funds for the work.
The 140-year-old, four-mile-long canal is lined with thick sludge from years of toxic dumping, most from untraceable sources.
At Gowanus, Toll Brothers planned to stop building a $250 million development if the designation were approved, and when it was, they did. The Bloomberg administration was not pleased.
The parties responsible for the pollution at Newtown, on the other hand, are well known—ExxonMobil, BP and Chevron, along with several industrial companies along the waterfront. The city supported the designation at Newtown because there was “no other way to clean it up,” Lavorgna said.
But the city is still concerned over the future of development near Newtown Creek, according to the mayor’s office. There are 184 blocks and two miles of waterfront still developable in Greenpoint, as well as the possibility for up to 7,000 additional units of housing and 7.9 acres of open space along less than a mile of waterfront, LaVorgna wrote in an e-mail. Those plans are contingent on private investment to reactivate the East River and Newtown Creek waterfront.
One part of the designation that has received little consideration is how it will affect the Queens side of the creek, specifically Hunter’s Point South, which was rezoned for development in 2008, LaVorgna wrote.
The area is cited for 5,000 housing units, a new public school, $175 million worth of utility and road infrastructure and 10 acres of waterfront park, he added.
Perhaps most crucial are $500 million in planned capital improvements for the area. Those projects could stall as the area comes under federal control, Lavorgna said.