Depending on where you look, North Brooklyn is still replete with rusty reminders of its fairly recent manufacturing past, but as that history recedes farther off into the distance, pushed along by developers mining the cityscape for residential conversions (and now, slick new tech office space too), the memory of what stood there before is fading too. The area’s transformation has proceeded so quickly and dramatically that many new residents have no idea that they’re living next to an old pencil factory, or in some cases a Brownfield site.
The official blowback in response to the Halloween-Superfund-rave-that-almost-was has begun. As promised, Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol wrote a letter to the State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on behalf of his district strongly suggesting he “investigate the pop-up party industry in New York City.” Lentol asks that Schneiderman take a close look at CityFox, the party promoters responsible for the would-be rave, which the Assembly Member refers to as “a corporation extremely difficult to track.” More details about the rave have emerged, including a social media response from CityFox.
As we lurked in the barren northern reaches of Greenpoint on Halloween night, a stranger stopped us in the shadows and told us, “The big party is going to be over on Clay and Franklin. It’s $80 to get in.” Intrigued, we walked over and couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw security barriers being set up outside of the former NuHart & Co. plastics factory. Weren’t we just talking about the possibility of toxic plumes at that site?
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.”