A Year In Pictures: 2012 In South Brooklyn

Butler Street bwn. Court and Smith
A quick glance backwards before heading into a new year.
Carroll Gardens and surroundings.

Moments In Time In And Around Carroll Gardens In 2012

A few of my favorite shots taken in and around our neighborhood throughout 2012.
Wishing you all a very happy 2013.

EPA Region 2 Releases Its Proposed Plan For The Superfund Clean-Up Of The Gowanus Canal


As planned, EPA Region 2 just released its proposed plan for the clean-up of the Gowanus Canal. This is great news for the Gowanus Community. Even better news still is that the proposed plan also includes "controls to prevent raw sewage overflows and other land-based sources of contamination from compromising the cleanup."
It's a huge step, which brings us ever so closer to actually starting the actual clean-up of the polluted waterway. The fact that the proposed plan addresses the Combined Sewer Overflow is a major victory for neighborhood residents, who had advocated that the CSO issue be resolved.
Below is the EPA press release:

EPA Proposes Plan for Cleaning Up Gowanus Canal
Multi-million Dollar Cleanup to Revitalize Polluted Brooklyn Waterway

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposed cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal that includes removing some of the contaminated sediment and capping dredged areas. The proposed plan also includes controls to prevent raw sewage overflows and other land-based sources of contamination from compromising the cleanup. The cost of the cleanup plan is expected to be between $467 and $504 million.

The EPA will accept public comments on its proposed plan until March 28, 2013. The EPA will hold
public meetings on January 23, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Public School 58 (the Carroll School), 330 Smith
Street, Brooklyn and on January 24, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110
West 9th Street, Brooklyn to discuss the proposed plan and answer questions.

“The proposed cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal will make essential progress in removing toxic
contaminants from this heavily polluted and battered waterway,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional
Administrator. “Our overall goal is to reduce pollution and protect the health of people who live and
work in this community. The EPA encourages people to attend the January public meetings on the
proposed plan and submit written comments no later than March 28.”

More than a dozen contaminants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, including mercury, lead and copper, were found at high levels in the sediment in the Gowanus Canal. PAHs and heavy metals were also found in the canal water. PAHs are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage or other organic substances. PCBs were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment and their manufacture was banned in 1979. PCBs and PAHs are suspected to be cancer-causing and PCBs can have neurological effects as well. Consumption of fish from the canal continues to this day notwithstanding fish advisories.

Completed in the mid-1800s, the Gowanus Canal was once a major industrial transportation route.
Manufactured gas plants, paper mills, tanneries and chemical plants are among the many facilities that
operated along the canal. As a result of years of discharges, stormwater runoff, raw sewage overflows
from sewer systems that carry sanitary waste from homes and rainwater from storm drains and
industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation's most seriously contaminated
water bodies. In 2010, the Gowanus Canal was added to the Superfund list of the nation’s most
contaminated hazardous waste sites. The EPA has identified numerous parties that are potentially
responsible for the contamination including National Grid and the city of New York.

The evaluation of the alternatives for cleaning up the Gowanus Canal was divided into three segments
that correspond to the upper, middle and lower portions of the canal. The first segment, which runs
from the top of the canal to 3rd Street, and the 2nd segment, which runs from 3rd Street to just south of
the Hamilton Avenue Bridge, contain the most heavily-contaminated sediment. In the third segment,
which runs from the Hamilton Avenue Bridge to the mouth of the canal, the sediment is less
contaminated than sediment in the other segments.

For the first and second segments of the canal, the EPA is proposing to dredge approximately 307,000
cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment. In some areas where the sediment is contaminated with
liquid coal tar, the EPA is proposing to stabilize the sediment by mixing it with concrete or similar
materials. The stabilized areas would then be covered with multiple layers of clean material, including
an “active” layer made of a specific type of clay that will remove PAH contamination that could well up from below, an “isolation” layer of sand and gravel that will ensure that the contaminants are not
exposed, and an “armor” layer of heavier gravel and stone to prevent erosion of the underlying layers
from boat traffic and currents. Finally, clean sand would be placed on top of the “armor” layer to restore the canal bottom as a habitat. The plan also calls for removing contaminated material placed in the 1st Street Turning Basin decades ago.

For the third segment, the EPA is proposing to dredge 281,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment
and cap the area with an armor layer and a layer of sand to help restore habitat.

The proposed plan includes various methods for managing the contaminated sediment after dredging,
depending on the levels of contamination. The proposed methods include transporting the dredged
sediment to an off-site permitted disposal facility, transporting it to a location where the sediment can
be treated and the possible beneficial reuse of some of the sediment after treatment.

In addition, the proposed plan calls for additional controls to significantly reduce combined sewer
overflows into the canal. The EPA is concerned that such overflows would contribute to the
recontamination of the canal after its cleanup. The EPA is proposing that combined sewer overflow
discharges from two major outfalls in the upper portion of the canal be outfitted with controls to reduce
the total volume of discharges from those outfalls by 58% to 74%.

Contaminated land sites along the canal, including three former manufactured gas plants, are being
addressed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Other potential sources
of continuing contaminant discharges to the canal have been referred to the state of New York and will
be investigated and addressed as necessary.

Written comments on the proposed plan should be addressed to:
Christos Tsiamis
Project Manager
Central New York Remediation Section
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866
e-mail: GowanusCanalComments.Region2@epa.gov
OR, contact Natalie Loney, Community Involvement Coordinator, at 212-637-3639,

To read EPA’s proposed plan for the Gowanus Canal site or for more information on the canal, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/gowanus/ or visit the EPA’s document repositories at the Carroll Gardens Library at 396 Clinton St. in Brooklyn or the Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, Brooklyn. The documents will be available in the repositories on December 28, 2012.

For a Google Earth aerial view of the Gowanus Canal, visit
http://www.epa.gov/region2/kml/gowanus_creek_and_gowanus_canal.kmz.  (Please note that you must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page,

Happy Holidays, Dear Neighbors And Readers!

Dear Friends, Neighbors and Readers,
I would like to wish you and your loved ones a peaceful and harmonious Holiday Season.
Please accept my sincerest thanks for your continuing support and encouragement, which help make Pardon Me For Asking a true neighborhood site and for allowing me to be a small part of your day.

Though we may not agree all the time, I am reminded every day, through your comments and emails, that we all have one thing in common: a deep love for Carroll Gardens and for the community we all live in.

I am looking forward to bringing you more news and photos of the neighborhood in the coming months. And perhaps you will join me in getting involved and volunteering, be it in Carroll Park, community Board or through one of the neighborhood organizations to make the neighborhood even better.

See you back here after after the Holidays, some rest and family time.

Santa Making An Appearance At 16 Handles On Court Street

16 Handles at 349 Court Street is throwing a holiday party in the store for the Carroll Gardens community this Sunday, December 23rd from 12-6. There will be games and giveaways, and Santa will make an appearance.
But more importantly, from 1 to 4 pm, there will be 2 dollars "all you can fill" yogurt.
Make sure to swing by with the kids.

Picture Of The Day: Very Wintery

Ice skates, greenery, blue chair and an old 7UP crate in from to Smith & Butler on Smith Street

Pacifico Is No More In Boerum Hill

It would appear that Pacifico, the Mexican bar and restaurant in Boerum Hill has closed its doors.
Yesterday, I received an email from Reader Lara, who shared this bit of news about the eatery:
Your readers might be interested to know that long time nabe staple Pacifico is no more.We went last night and were told they closed on Dec 9th for good as they had a dispute with the landlord over the lease (which was up) and the amount the landlord wanted to charge them for the space.
Pacifico, which opened in 2003, was one in a chain of eateries opened by 'pioneer' restaurateurs Brooklyn Alan Harding–Jim Mamary.
Pacifico at 269 Pacific Street was actually more of an outdoor venue on an empty lot that connected to a small storefront on Smith Street
In 2009, it was reported that the restaurant's manager, Richard Kraus, was going to take it over.

Just recently, construction began on the big empty lot right next to Pacifico. That may also have had something to do with the eatery finally calling it quits.

Coalition For Carroll Gardens Asks For Support "To Stop Corrupt No Bid Contracts" For 170-Bed Homeless Shelter On West 9th Street

The Coalition for Carroll Gardens (CCG), represents the residents, business owners, and neighbors of Carroll Gardens has continued to expressing serious concerns about the lack of public process surrounding the placement of a proposed 170-bed shelter at 165 West 9th Street. Specifically, they have raised questions regarding the suitability of the building, illegal construction, lack of provision of social services, or security. Last, but not least, the Coalition is troubled by the fact that the landlord of the building, Alan Lapes, is tightly connected to Housing Solutions USA/Aguila Inc., the non-profit organization that has put forth the plan for the shelter. Incidentally, Housing Solutions USA/Aguila is headed by Robert Hess, the Bloomberg administration’s former head of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS).

CCG formed shortly after learning of the proposed shelter and has worked tirelessly over the last two months to reach out to elected officials, local businesses and neighbors to demand transparency and an open public pocess. They have also raised funds to hire attorney Steven Kirkpatrick as legal council, On the Coalition's behalf, Kirkpatrick filed Article 78 proceeding against the City.

On November 20, Kings County Supreme Justice David Schmidt issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) prohibiting the City and its contractors from “using the Building in violation of applicable laws and requirements.”

On December 7th, Judge Carl Landisino continued the TRO and gave the group until January 25, 2012 to put in additional papers and for the respondents to reply.

In order to continue legal action, CCG is asking for donations from the community to cover costs.
Below is a press release just issued by the group.

• The proposal to house 170 men is wildly out of proportion with the original intended use of the building, creating an illegal and unsafe situation for clients and neighbors alike.
• The landlord with a criminal record received a no-bid city contract for the shelter, generating over $520K a month. (Corruption Link)• Housing Solutions USA’s board members have numerous connections to shelter operators and landlords with a history of running substandard, dangerous, and crime-ridden facilities (eg the Alladin Homeless Shelter on West 45th St). (Corruption Link)• 165 West 9th st, built by an architect now barred from practicing in NY State, has been empty since its construction over ten years ago due to code violations and no legal Certificate of Occupancy. (Corruption Link)
• CCG is a growing coalition of over 120 families, 700 residents and representatives from their buildings and coop boards and 100 businesses .
• CCG has retained an attorney, Steven Kirkpatrick, from Belkin, Burden Wenig & Goldman, LLP to represent us in a lawsuit against the City of New York.
• On December 7th, the Honorable Carl Landisino granted a continuation of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that requires the respondants to comply with all applicable laws regarding the opening and operation of the proposed shelter until the next hearing date scheduled for January 25, 2013. The City is currently attempting to have the case dismissed so that they can move forward on the proposed 170 bed men’s shelter.
• The six-week adjournment without occupancy gives us an ample opportunity to scrutinize and refute the claims of the City. HOWEVER, CCG cannot continue to fund the attorney and our case without help from YOU!
• All money is directed through the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association and goes directly towards legal costs.
We’ve raised approximated $20,000 from households and businesses throughout the neighborhood. We need $30,000 more to be sure we can continue this case!
Please send checks payable to:
CGNA (Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association)
Mail to:
RY Management
505 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Community Board 6 Ends The Year With Holiday Cheer And One Sad Good-Bye

CB6 Charirman Daniel Kumer
Craig Hammerman and Irene LoRe
Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Branch
Gary Reilley
Assemblywoman Joan Millman
Lou Sones
Peter Fleming
Zach Abrams
Michael Sorgatz, Eleanor Traubman and Pearl Lau
Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon
Officer Joe Morone and Captain Jeffrey Schiff of the 76th Precinct
Kimberly Price and George Fiala of The Red Hook Star Review
Celia Cacace
Councilman Brad Lander and Celia Cacace

Members of Brooklyn Community Board 6 gathered at Sheep Station on 4th Avenue last night for their yearly Holiday party.  It was an opportunity to celebrate after spending many hours volunteering by representing the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, the Columbia Street District, Gowanus and Park Slope neighborhoods throughout 2012.
CB6 was joined by many of their friends, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Councilman Brad Lander, District Leader Jo Anne Simon and the Captain of the 76th Precinct, Jeffrey Schiff.

Many local businesses had contributed prizes to a raffle, whose proceeds will go to Friends Of Community Board 6.

Sadly amongst all the good cheer, there was a sad farewell to Celia Cacace, who was a Community Board member for many years.
Celia spent her entire life in Carroll Gardens Red Hook. ( Celia never adopted her neighborhood's new name, introduced by gentrifying real estate brokers in the late 1960's, early '70's) She raised a family here and became an advocate for the community's senior citizens, our local schools and Carroll Park.
For decades, she never missed a meeting and was involved in every issue.
Unfortunately, Celia will have to move out of her apartment by the middle of next month.  Since she has not yet found another living arrangement in the neighborhood, she will be moving to Wisconsin to be with her son.
She does not want to leave, but does not have a choice.
Everyone who knows Celia knows what a big hole she will leave in the community.  If anyone knows of a small apartment in the neighborhood, please contact me or leave a comment.
Let's help keep Celia right here where she belongs.