Last week, our Seattle-bred writer told New Yorkers to stop being babies about the five-cent fee that the City Council had voted to impose for the use of plastic takeout bags. That plea fell on deaf ears, because on Tuesday, Governor Cuomo blocked implementation of the Bring Your Own Bag Law for at least a year. The Lower East Side’s own Margaret Chin was among those who dropped a W-T-F bomb, insisting that “carryout bag fees are the right policy” and that Cuomo’s move had quashed a measure that she and her colleagues in City Council had “democratically adopted” after slogging through “two years of hearings, reviewing evidence, reusable bag giveaways, and public debate.”
The Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning transformed the East River waterfront area (and other pockets, including along parts of the BQE) from “mixed use” industrial districts to solely residential ones. Things may have proceeded quickly since 2005, but the transition has not been a seamless one– a new interactive resource, the Greenpoint-Williamsburg ToxiCity Map tells us why.
The map, spearheaded by Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG), a community group with a long history of fighting environmental degradation in North Brooklyn, reveals the sometimes toxic remnants of the area’s industrial past as a colorful barrage of moveable dots and lines. “A lot of factories were there, operating with a lot of chemicals, a lot of spills– I think that’s important to remember,” explained Rita Beth Pasarell, a board member at NAG. “For good old history, but also because there are a lot of health impacts associated with the chemicals, and in order to avoid them we have to know what chemicals are where.”
Just a few days after CUNY social journalism fellow Aaron Smith launched his blog “The Brooklyn Memory Project” with an unsettling video of a retired Greenpoint NYPD detective recalling all the cancer deaths he’s witnessed (possibly due to the area’s oil spill), Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning is launching a series of forums about North Brooklyn’s environmental issues, starting with a discussion tonight about Greenpoint’s polluted past.
Surprise, surprise–North Brooklynites aren’t exactly thrilled about a potential parade of up to 30 tankers hauling organic waste through their neighborhood every day, even if the compost does eventually get converted into natural gas.