Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Because $7M for a boat club just isn't enough...

UPDATE: I was just reminded that the boathouse was the #3 vote-getter during the process. The Dutch Kills park was actually #1. So how did the boathouse vault to the top of the list? That needs to be investigated as well.

Besides the $7M from the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant settlement, Greenpoint is eligible for $19.5M from the Exxon oil spill settlement:

"The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund is a $19.5 million grant program launched in 2011 by the NYS Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Environmental Conservation (the State). Funding for the GCEF was obtained by the State in a settlement with ExxonMobil over its Greenpoint oil spill. The overall goal of the GCEF is to secure significant environmental improvements in Greenpoint. More specifically, the GCEF is:
  • Designed to support projects that address the community’s environmental priorities, such as improving water quality, groundwater, open space, toxic pollution and air quality.
  • Committed to a transparent and objective process, and to engaging and partnering with the Greenpoint community. This includes ensuring the community has a direct, continuing role in guiding the GCEF’s development and implementation.
The State established a Greenpoint Community Advisory Panel (CAP) -- a group of Greenpoint residents, representatives of local organizations and elected officials -- to provide direct, ongoing input to the State on the GCEF. The CAP has played a central role in guiding the Fund's development and implementation, including helping to create the process used for selecting a General Administrator for the GCEF, as well as for soliciting, evaluating, and selecting projects to receive grant funding."

Some members of the advisory panel:
  • Christine Holowacz, GWAPP (sponsoring NBBC for Wastewater Treatment Plant money)
  • Dewey Thompson, North Brooklyn Boat Club
  • Gina Argento, builder of hotel where boathouse will be located
  • Kate Zidar, Newtown Creek Alliance (sponsoring NBBC for Wastewater Treatment Plant money)
  • Katie Denny, Open Space Alliance (sponsoring NBBC for Exxon settlement money)
  • Michael Heimbinder, Newtown Creek Alliance
  • Phillip Muesgaas, Riverkeeper (sharing office space with boat club)
  • Ronald Van Cooten, LaGuardia College (sharing programming with boat club)
What's wrong with this picture?  All of these people have a connection to the North Brooklyn Boat Club's boathouse project and they sit on an advisory board which will determine whether or not the project, which appears on the preliminary list 5 times, is worthy of funding. From the list of preliminary projects:
  • Green roof on boathouse
  • Additional funding for North Brooklyn boat club on Newtown Creek
  • Fund purchase of boats for, or building of boats at, boathouse being constructed with Newtown Creek EBP funds at GMDC
  • Expand boathouse to create youth employment via boat-building
  • Kayaking program for Bushwick Inlet
From July 2013 minutes:
A CAP member asked for clarification on whether the construction of new buildings would be considered an eligible project and the conversation turned to whether it would be helpful to produce a list of ineligible projects? The GA explained at this time it is impossible to say whether a specific proposal would be eligible or ineligible because that decision is based upon review process and screening factors described in the RFP. But the RFP will describe ineligible project types to receive funding from the GCEF. The GA agreed to create a checklist for prospective applications with ineligibility criteria. However, the GA pointed out that a proposal for construction of a new building would have to meet a very high bar to be considered eligible for funding. The building would have to provide multiple environmental benefits, funds could be provided for specific environmental enhancements associated with the building such as solar panels etc., the applicant would have to have site control, and provide a high match.
Interesting how they ask if construction of a new building will be covered, and then the following month, Gina Argento suddenly is added to the board.

From August 2013 conference call:
CAP Recruitment. Filip Stabrowski, NBDC, announced the addition of four new CAP members:
Gina Argento of Broadway Stages
Heidi Shea Springer of Greenpoint Gardens
Joanna Micek an Independent Consultant
Ronald VanCooten of LaGuardia College
This brings the total number of voting CAP members to 15.
(No minutes have been posted since October. The panel has monthly meetings.  There was a deadline of December 2013 for submission of grant proposals, but there has been no update as to which were submitted before the deadline.)

These are large grant pre-proposals:

**** Applicant: Open Space Alliance For North Brooklyn, Inc
Title: Greenpoint Marine Environmental Center (GMEC) (#42888)
Description: This project proposes a fully developed marine environmental education center near the mouth of Newtown Creek, to connect residents with the plethora of issues and conditions present in our local waterbodies. The center will be part of the 10,000 square foot Greenpoint Boathouse and Environmental Education Center. Location: 437 McGuinness Blvd. at Ash Street.
Grant Request: $135,000
Matching Funds: $112,500
Contact Information: Kurt Cavanaugh,, (347) 842-7915

**** Applicant: Open Space Alliance For North Brooklyn, Inc
Title: Environmental Education Shed (ED Shed) (#42742)
Description: The ED Shed is a hands-on environmental educational and research outpost dedicated to establishing and elevating the connection between Greenpoint residents and their surrounding marine environs.
Location: The North Brooklyn Boat Club (NBBC) - 437 McGuinness Blvd. at Ash Street, Greenpoint. The Ed Shed is located 100 feet from the Newtown Creek shore and the North Brooklyn Boat Club floating dock.
Grant Request: $24,426 Matching Funds: $3,600
Contact Information: Kurt Cavanaugh,, (347) 842-7915

**** Applicant: Open Space Alliance For North Brooklyn, Inc
Title: Floating Classrooms on Greenpoint's Waterways (#42037)
Description: The North Brooklyn Boat Club will expand environmental education on Greenpoint’s waterways through the purchase and deployment of two large canoes and the development of an educational curriculum.
Location: Greenpoint Grant Request: $24,693
Matching Funds: $25,000 Contact Information: Kurt Cavanaugh,, (347) 842-7915

And all this conflict of interest was found on a website operated by 
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the NYSDEC.
Miss Heather has more on the phoniness of the organizations involved in this whole thing. It's definitely worth a read to those who are opposed to tweeding, which this is in its most blatant form.

It's time to BRING IN THE FEDS.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you keeping at this. They do the same shit in Queens, but are better at keeping it secret.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money. It always leads to scumbags.

Anonymous said...

It is quite embarrassing that the AG and DEC are allowing these conflicted people to run amok with public funds.

Anonymous said...


Pissed off Greenpointer said...

Christine Holowacz pushed for the boathouse to be #1. That's the only reason it is. At the meetings leading up to the vote, she was introduced as the Community Liaison at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant for the Newtown Creek Monitor Committee. She is also a member of the Newtown Creek Alliance and GWAPP.

Anonymous said...

Most people in Greenpoint have:
a) no connection to this boathouse nor have ever heard of it
b) dislike the idea of a boathouse getting public money
c) dislike the project in its new incarnation.

The project should die.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but is there supposed to be some sort of actual scandal here? Because I'm not seeing it.

Anonymous said...

Well then your either connected to the project, or a moron.

Queens Crapper said...

Those are not mutually exclusive conditions.

J said...

I like NY shitty's posting of this story,its like a local version of jeremy scahill's dirty wars with all the scumbags and the links coming together

and at the end to make sense of this brewing scandal,you see the contribution list to the Blaz.

this is another case of the exploitation of good causes(affordable housing and enviromental) embraced by greedy scoundrels and predators.the fact the city thinks this "project" take precedent over evaluating the bridge is as stupid as the approval of shore and waterfront housing that was greenlighted only a year and a half after the destruction and land erosion after Sandy.

"I'm....moving out"
Billy Joel