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Local News June 17, 2010  RSS feed

Seek Input On Newtown Creek Cleanup Cash

City Parks Foundation To Distribute $7M
by Patrick Clark

A City Parks Foundation map describing the area surrounding the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant; according to New York State Department of Conservation, projects within a halfmile radius to the plant will be prioritized for funding. (Not to scale.) A City Parks Foundation map describing the area surrounding the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant; according to New York State Department of Conservation, projects within a halfmile radius to the plant will be prioritized for funding. (Not to scale.) A non-profit charged with managing $7 million in environmental benefits due to communities surrounding the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is moving forward with its efforts to distribute the funds.

City Parks Foundation (CPF) released a survey on Monday, June 14, asking residents to describe their preferred activities and frequency of use of public parks in the vicinity of Newtown Creek.

CPF also announced a July 28 meeting at the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek to create a preliminary list of projects that could be funded by the economic benefits.

As previously reported, the $7 million in economic benefits derive from a New York State Supreme Court judgment which penalized New York City for failing to bring the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment into compliance with the federal government’s Clean Water Act.

According to a memorandum of understanding signed by CPF, the orby ganization will work to fund “such projects [that] address green infrastructure such as green streets or tree planting, the creation and/or improvement of open space, public city parks, waterfront access, ecological and recreational programs and stormwater management.”

CPF President David Rivel noted that his organization was currently in an information-gathering stage of the process.

“The idea of the survey is to create a broad base of shared knowledge ahead of the July 28 meeting,” Rivel said. “The purpose is not to specifically choose projects.”

Rivel further explained that CPF, which worked with community members to create the plan for Elmhurst Park, will use the July 28 meeting to create an initial list of projects that might be funded.

The organization will then study the cost and feasibility of the proposed projects, return its findings, and ask community members to work together to prioritize the projects. CPF will forward the prioritized list on to the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC), which will make the final decision on which projects to fund.

As noted, DEC has charged two other non-profits to distribute economic benefits deriving from the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant judgment.

As noted, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority was awarded $2 million to fund projects that address air pollution and energy efficiency, with a likely emphasis on retrofitting dieselburning trucks and weatherizing lowincome housing.

The Hudson River Foundation was awarded $1 million to disperse grants focusing on “environmental education and stewardship projects.”

While the survey and July 28 meeting pertain specifically to CPF’s funds, Rivel said that he will be sharing community input with both organizations, and each would be represented at the meeting.

Rivel also noted that while the DEC has specified that projects located within a half-mile radius of the treatment plant will receive priority, projects in all communities along Newtown Creek will be considered.

“I’ve already heard from Maspeth people who noted that Maspeth wasn’t included in the half-mile radius,” Rivel said. “We still want their proposals.”

“It’s not clear exactly how the process will play out,” he added. “I want to come up with the most inclusive, wide ranging list possible,” he said.

The survey can be found online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/newtowncreeksurvey. Surveys will be accepted until July 14. The July 28 meeting will be held at the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek, located at 328 Greenpoint Ave. in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. For more information, contact City Parks Foundation at 1-212-360-1310.