Gowanus Superfunded

After conducting our own evaluations and consulting extensively with the many people who have expressed interest in the future of the Gowanus Canal and the surrounding area, we have determined that a Superfund designation is the best path to a cleanup of this heavily contaminated and long neglected urban waterway.

These are the words of Judith Enck, Regional Administrator for the Superfund on March 2 2010.

The Gowanus Canal is now a Superfund site!

To date, there have been 1,620 sites included on the Superfund list. Of these sites, 341 sites have been deleted, resulting in 1,279 sites remaining on the list. There are a total of 1,340 final and proposed sites around the country.

Not a great track record on the face of it, although you have to look into the details to really know. What are their standards, how long, etc.

I for one am satisfied with the decision.

I know a couple people who have property on the canal and they fought hard to not have the Superfund. They had million dollar deals with Toll Brothers developers and it was their ticket to retirement. But now all development bets are off. Who wants to buy a luxury condo with a view on a Superfund site. Anyway you can’t develop on it if it is designated.

For me this fight was clear when you looked at the players. On one side you had politicians, developers and wealthy land owners. Right there my alarm bells went off. But what really confirmed my personal belief was who made up the other side: local residents with nothing to gain financially.

The residents simply did it because they thought it was the best long term decision for the community.

This one was very clear for me and I am very happy the community won.

If it takes 10 years or if it takes 30 I am willing to wait. I am sure that they will do a much better job than anyone else would have. They don’t have vested financial interest to hurry up and make the place look good for investors. They are paid to do a good job. Or at least that is the understanding.

I own one property a half block from the canal and another property two blocks from the canal. I understand that the Superfund may dampen the values of my properties. I even understand that once the site is cleaned up and the designation is removed that my properties may never fetch the same prices they would have had the city quickly cleaned the site up and put luxury condos there.

But I put more weight in community value and ecological value. It might not have a dollar amount but it is much more valuable to me than any wad of bills. Community and ecological value makes me happy. It is something I can physically experience in my neighborhood. I see it and feel it when I go for a walk with my family. It is priceless and why I am a green builder.

As a Brooklyn green contractor I get to focus not only on dollar profit but on ecological and community health as well. It makes my job so much richer.

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