Rain Wreaks Havoc on Gowanus Retaining Wall

May 07, 17 Rain Wreaks Havoc on Gowanus Retaining Wall

Posted by in All, Gowanus

Last Friday was a rough day in New York due to flooding caused by almost non-stop rain at the end of last week. Among the various incidents around town, in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn a railing fell as well as a large part of a retaining wall. The collapse occurred right below the Gowanus Expressway, closing much-used 17th Street. Engineers were quickly brought to the scene to make the needed repairs. Luckily there were no injuries associated with the incident. “I pass here at least three to four times a day, and I’m amazed. I can’t believe how lucky we all are by someone not passing by there and getting hurt at the time that it fell down,” said a Gowanus resident. “It looks ridiculous. It’s rusted out. It was an incident waiting to happen.” Hamilton Avenue took up the slack with the closure of 17th Street, causing major traffic slow-downs. The Office of Emergency Management said that they expected the road to re-open by late Friday evening. In Staten Island the rain caused damage to some private residences, with flood waters flowing on Bay Street rushing into the street’s storm drains. Midtown Manhattan was not immune to flood damage, with large puddles accumulating on street corners, and high water levels found on the West Side Highway. In one case a school bus filled with students had trouble navigating the watery road. Again, no one was hurt. Another incident involved a FDNY truck, which ended up taking assistance from helpful citizens who stood in the rain directing traffic around the disabled truck, getting soaking wet in the process. It was a very bad day for one motorcyclist whose wheels ended up under water. Help for this biker simply came too little, too...

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A Bit of Brooklyn History in Park Slope Parking Lot

Mar 28, 17 A Bit of Brooklyn History in Park Slope Parking Lot

Posted by in All, Gowanus

The Battle of Brooklyn was a tipping-point during the American War for Independence. Historians believe as many as 256 soldiers from the Maryland 400 died in this pivotal battle in 1776. Their bravery and fortitude, which stopped the British forces from reaching the bulk of General George Washington’s troops, allowed Washington and his soldiers to retreat to a safer place, but unfortunately was bloody battle resulting in many deaths. It is now believed that the fallen of the First Maryland Regiment, under the command of Colonel William Smallwood, could be buried in a mass grave in an empty lot on Ninth Street between Third and Fourth Avenues at the meeting point of Gowanus and Park Slope. Robert Furman, a Brooklyn historian of note and the president of the Brooklyn Preservation Council, says it is a distinct possibility that those heroes are buried in this sometimes-parking lot. “The state of New York has believed for many years that many of the Maryland heroes who died in the Battle of Brooklyn were buried here,” Furman said. The historian explained that the Battle of Brooklyn, which took place on August 27, 1776, saved Washington. Therefore, this burial site should be one of equal importance and veneration as the cemeteries of Gettysburg and Normandy. Furman and other historians believe that if the Maryland 400 had not halted the advancing British soldiers, the war could have ended right there and then, in defeat for Washington, putting an end to independence. “These soldiers saved the revolution,” Furman states. Furman and British-born actor Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame, who now lives in Park Slope, have been urging for an archeological dig at the site to find out once and for all if this is the elusive mass grave site of the Maryland 400. Since the city is planning to build a new school on the lot, having a dig now is urgent. “We owe it to those who died here,” Furman said. “It would be a horrible travesty to find...

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Cleaning Up the Gowanus Canal

Sep 06, 15 Cleaning Up the Gowanus Canal

Posted by in Gowanus, Lifestyle, Society

Many have been working tirelessly to find solutions for the long-polluted waterway along the Gowanus Canal. One organization, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, is now working with the Department of Sanitation to build a facility on Second Avenue near the canal. The intention is that food scraps and other organic waste will be turned into garden compost. The location for this plan is owned by the Department of Sanitation and is currently an empty lot that is used to store salt and sand to spread on city streets in the winter. While some compositing has already been occurring on this plot, the new plans will quadruple the size of the operation and make it more efficient, as reported by conservancy executive director Andrea Parker. As she said, “It will mean that we can process a whole lot more food scraps and provide a lot more compost for street trees in the neighborhood.” The new facility will bring the many volunteers in from the cold with an open-air shelter design and it will use solar panels to power light the location. They will also have something called “bioswales” which are small plots with plants that absorb rainwater during storms. The funding for the project includes a $1.5 million in grants from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and $105,000 from City Councilman Brad Lander’s participatory budgeting...

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Kentile Sign Gets Last Minute Reprieve from Destruction

Jun 15, 14 Kentile Sign Gets Last Minute Reprieve from Destruction

Posted by in All, Gowanus

The heartwarming symbol of the heyday of Brooklyn industrial growth, the 50-year-old “Kentile Floors” sign was saved from oblivion by a group of fast-acting citizens and City Councilman Brad Lander. At the moment the sign towers eight stories high above a textile company owned by Eliahu Cohen. The actual Kentile Floors Company is long ago out of business. Cohen said the sign itself is rusting and in need of repair, while the building which houses his company was damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Last week it was discovered that Mr. Cohen obtained the permits he needed to take down the sign. Scaffolding was built around the sign but it could not be confirmed if there was a real plan to remove the sign. In only hours of the scaffolding going up and the information about the permits revealed, citizens began a “Save Our Sign” campaign and organized a nearby protest. Councilman Lander met with Mr. Cohen, who told him that although he would love to save the sign, the costs to preserve it were too high. Mr. Cohen said in a statement: “We love the sign, and we heard the voices of so many community members. We will work hard to preserve the letters during removal.” Founder of the Gowanus Alliance, Paul Basile, said that his group, which is composed of property and business owners in the neighborhood where the sign resides, will work together with the community to save the letters and “find a marvelous location for their eventual re-installation, where they can serve the public and be part of the future of...

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Gowanus Canal Luxury Housing Project Under Fire

Aug 11, 13 Gowanus Canal Luxury Housing Project Under Fire

Posted by in All, Gowanus

It is not smooth sailing for the 700-unit luxury housing project being developed by the Lightstone Group along the banks of Brooklyn’s famed Gowanus Canal. Protestors gathered last week to proclaim that the proposed development will cause flooding in the streets with filthy water from the canal as well as breaking several laws when it is constructed. The protest drew dozens of activists who hope to either alter or stop the Lighthouse Group’s present plans. The development is to go up within the bounds of Bond, Carroll and Second Streets along the canal, long known for its bad smells and putrid water. The Lightstone Group is expecting to begin construction in early 2014 and finishing sometime in 2015. “The project’s design is ill-suited for the community” said Warren Cohen, First Street resident, of Save Gowanus, the group who organized the rally. “It’s going to aggravate the flooding region-wide” said Gowanus activist Marlene Donnelly. Spokesman for the Lighthouse Group, Ethan Geto, says that the activists are perpetuating, “not just misinformation, but disinformation” concerning the project. The Lightstone Group is not changing its building schedule or delaying construction in anyway. They say they have government approval and all the green-lights it needs, with a complete environmental impact review on file. “The rally organizers simply do not have the facts on their side” Geto...

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Lost Dolphin Dies in Polluted Gowanus Canal

Jan 27, 13 Lost Dolphin Dies in Polluted Gowanus Canal

Posted by in Gowanus, News

A seven-foot long dolphin was seen by onlookers on Friday swimming in the highly polluted Gowanus Canal, occasionally surfacing and trying to rid itself of the dirt and gunk that was sticking to its back as it swam around looking for a way out. Unfortunately the dolphin died in the canal before the New York Police Department could move in to save it. The sight of a dolphin in the filthy Superfund location drew a news helicopter to observe its behavior and many bystanders to photograph it and post its picture to various social media sites. The Canal is a 1.5 mile waterway cutting through many of Brooklyn’s most ritzy neighborhoods, but it is full of industrial waste from years of its use as a sewage dump. As a Superfund site since 2010 the federal government can force those guilty of polluting the waterway to pay for its cleanup. According to the police they were waiting for the go ahead from animal experts on the scene who were hoping the dolphin would find his own way out of the filthy canal during high tide. The plan was to help the dolphin if he did not find his own way out. Unfortunately by then it was too late and the dolphin died. The body of the dolphin was removed from the canal on Friday night, and transported to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation where researchers there will investigate the exact cause of the dolphin’s...

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