Back then, it was announced that the City Parks Foundation was looking for participants to attend meetings to help determine how the Newtown Creek Environmental Benefit Project Funds were to be distributed. People from both sides of the Creek were invited to share their wishes, and ultimately a vote was taken to determine the top finalists.
Here is the list that was published after the vote tally:
The list was vetted by DEC and the NY Attorney General's office, and the final result was this:
You’ll note that a boathouse was the number one vote-getter. It wasn't. It actually came in third, but for some reason, it was given priority over the other projects ahead of it. It’s also controversial because the Dept of Health actually doesn’t want people paddling around Newtown Creek for health reasons, but the Parks Dept & City Planning convinced them to keep it on the list.
|Christine Holowacz and "Commodore" Dewey Thompson. |
Photo by Stefano Giovannini from the Brooklyn Paper.
GWAPP seems to be under the impression that the entire $7M in Creek funds is theirs:
On October 25, 2011, the DEC and CPF submitted a letter [PDF (3.5MB)] approving the funds of the EBP to building out the boathouse, promising up to $7 million for the project. Runner-up projects would receive any leftover funding that was not used in the creation of the boathouse, however those project cannot receive funding until the principal project, the boathouse, is completed.Unless there were some closed door shenanigans that we are not aware of, that is not the case. They were approved for $3M as noted in the screenshot above.
The address of the boathouse, as per the Newtown Creek website started December 2013, is now 437 McGuinness Blvd, aka 51 Ash Street. The website also says, "Holowacz and Thompson are currently working to finalize a location to house the boathouse and environmental education center."
Finalize a location? Why is that? The project was approved for 1155 Manhattan Avenue, the site of the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center. These are very specific, detailed plans, incorporating the architecture and history of the previously proposed site. How can they just pick up and move to a not-yet-built site? And how is DEC ok with this?
So, what do you get when you pull up the DOB filing for 51 Ash Street? An application to build a 4-story hotel, with a “private club” listed as the "community facility" that allows the owner to build larger than what is normally allowed. The owner? None other than Broadway Stages, co-owned by Gina and Tony Argento! If the "private club" is temporary, then how do they calculate an augmented FAR based on its inclusion? Could it be the new permanent home of the North Brooklyn Boat Club?
Is the "Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning" actually pushing for a private boathouse? How do so-called environmentalists sleep at night knowing they have sold out their community to people who "lack good character, honesty and integrity" in exchange for a boathouse? The club currently charges $40 for membership per year. How can public funds be released to build a boathouse that is only open to members? Who the hell in Greenpoint, outside of these charlatans, wants to see a boathouse built with environmental settlement money inside a hotel right next to the Pulaski Bridge?
Bottom line: GWAPP is getting the money for their private club, the Argentos are getting an FAR increase to build a bigger hotel, and everyone benefits except the rest of the neighborhood.
From City Parks Foundation:
The Dutch Kills Basin Park Project proposed to construct a park with athletic fields and waterfront access. The proposed park location is along 47th Avenue between 27th and 29th Streets, in the area adjoining the Dutch Kills basin. Long Island City Roots is serving as the primary community representative for the proposed project. City Parks Foundation partnered with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) in evaluating the proposed park location. TPL submitted a letter of inquiry to the property owners of the parcels required to construct the park in the proposed location. The property owners did not respond to TPL’s letter. While awaiting response from the property owners, City Parks Foundation contracted with Goodman-Marks Associates to perform an appraisal of the proposed park location. The appraised value of the property greatly exceeded the proposed project budget. Given this information, DEC determined that the initial project location is infeasible. CPF is currently working with Long Island City community groups in an attempt to find an alternate location.The decision posted in the second photo above states,
“If after all the projects in the primary group are implemented or projects have been determined to be infeasible to implement and additional mitigation funds remain uncommitted, the State will propose a prioritized list of projects for implementation from the secondary group.”The language is quite clear. If a project isn’t going to happen, then it’s removed from the list and the DEC draws from the second group. It doesn't say that they'll sit and wait for the people behind a project to scramble to find an alternate location. Yet that is exactly what is happening with the Greenpoint Boathouse and the Dutch Kills Basin Park Project.
Wouldn’t it have been smarter to fund them in the order that they were ready to go? For example, planting trees could have been first and would already be making an impact. If the St. Saviour’s ULURP had been funded back in 2011, there might have been a park at that site instead of warehouses. The DEC knocked that relatively inexpensive item off the list completely, yet kept the construction of the park on, which expedited the death of the project.
The Pulaski Bridge Study was ready to go.
Renovation of McCarren Park would be finished by now.
The Greenpoint Monitor Museum was ready to go as well. (Oooooh, but that would have held back the development of the greenway along the coast! We can’t have that. The site of the Monitor Museum has been proposed for public restrooms. Which means the city will eventually own it. Which means eminent domain.)
Instead everyone now must sit by and wait for a hotel to be built next to the Pulaski Bridge. Because the actual polluting of the Creek wasn't enough punishment.
More to come! Stay tuned!