It was once called “The Lavender Lake”. Sounds like a nice place to go right? Nah, it wasn’t. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York was so named by the locals because it was so polluted with lavender tinged industrial waste.
After decades of all kinds of industrial wastes from coal tar, oil refineries, tanneries and chemical plants, raw sewage, heavy metals the Gowanus Canal is now in a federal clean up program.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has declared the site a Superfund. This is a program created in 1980 that gives the EPA the authority to clean up the most hazardous sites in the nation, force the local polluters to clean the site or face stiff penalties including paying the EPA 3 times their cost to clean up the site. It also means the site has a shot at a thorough and comprehensive clean up. If not pollution of the groundwater and in the area can leech into places that can still make people sick.
Above is a pic from “Return To The Batcave” on bluejake.com that shows The Batcave, “a towering eyesore dominating the Gowanus skyline north of the Third Street Bridge” and a former squatter’s camp. You can go to that that website to see a larger version of the pic above and find out more about this picture.
This means canal is in a program to get it from being the “The Lavender Lake” back to a version of The Gowanus Canal that we can all be proud of…sort of.
When I hear clean up, Superfund and renewal I hear gentrification, iced lattes at Starbucks- or water’s cool now and lots and lots of hipsters.
The locals may get priced out and will have to make room for mostly white folks that like a nice view, as has been the case in this city over the past few years. There have already been plans for a Whole Foods.
Superfund status doesn’t guarantee a speedy clean up. It took New York’s Hudson River 25 years to finally start getting cleaned up after being named a Superfund.
New York city’s mayor Michael Bloomberg is opposed to the Superfund on the grounds of the stigma attached to naming a site as such, progress that would be to slow and potentially scaring away developers. As a city resident I can say this mayor is pro developer he likely wanted developers to have as much incentive as possible to take over the area completely. I can tell you chain stores like Dunkin’ Donuts don’t seem so bad but they don’t come alone. In Harlem today the place is overrun with sterile franchises as opposed to local businesses.
Maybe I’m wrong.
Well we’ll see what happens…
For more info:
25-Year-Old Hudson River Cleanup Plan Starts Today