The mayor and some community leaders argue that a federal-funded effort to clean up Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal will jeopardize existing plans for housing and other development in the area. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
For years, Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal was the butt of jokes and regarded as a stinky place considered little more than an industrial cesspool. But there is a growing effort to clean up the waterway as the area becomes more residential.
"This is what we all know has to be done," says Kevin Duffy of the local civic group Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed making the so-called "lavender lake" a "Superfund" site. Under the program, EPA would go after polluters and secure funding for a major clean-up.
Some local community activists agree with the plan.
"There has just been this incredible groundswell of support for Superfund throughout the neighborhood," says Marlene Donnelly of FRGG.
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not approve of the plan, and is concerned that the Superfund designation would actually delay the city clean-up process and jeopardize existing plans for housing and other development along the canal.
Some Carroll Gardens community leaders are also pushing for development.
"We've got the private sector now willing to come in here and spend hundreds of millions of dollars investing, because they realize this is an ideal development and extension of Carroll Gardens as a neighborhood," says activist Buddy Scotto.
Projects, like Toll Brothers' proposal to create 450 units of housing along the canal, could be put on hold with Superfund designation.
"It will hurt all projects, I mean nothing will go forward for a very long time," says Senior Vice President David Von Spreckelsen of Toll Brothers.
Local Councilman David Yassky, who is running for city comptroller, says now is not the right time for the Gowanus Canal to get Superfund status.
"They don't have a clean-up plan of their own, they are just going to mess up the clean-up plan that we are putting in place here in the city," says Yassky.
Because of all the public interest, the EPA has extended the public comment period on this issue through July 8.
To contribute an opinion, visit www.epa.gov.