There is a good article on the Gowanus Canal in the NY Times. It gives a pretty accurate overview of the state of affairs of the canal.
Basically everyone agrees it is a cesspool.
Simply put on one side there are a lot of developers invested in the area who want the city – who also has a lot of financial gain if lots of taxable new real estate pops up – to be in charge of the clean up. They claim the Superfund process is too slow and damaging to public image (ie their profits from sales).
On the other side you have those who think there are too many conflicts of interest with the city cleaning it up. NY is the land of landlords and developers and the city government is their little bitch.What will their focus be, cleaning the Gowanus or protecting their investment?
Clearly you see where I stand.