Gowanus Residents Launch Petition Against Lightstone Project

A new community initiative called 'Save Gowanus' wants to protect the canal from overdevelopment


In the runup to a final vote by Community Board 6 regarding the Lightstone Group's planned project at 363-365 Bond St., a new community initiative is collecting signatures from residents of Gowanus, Carroll Gardens and contiguous areas to illustrate the level of opposition within the community.

"Save Gowanus aims to protect the neighborhoods of Gowanus and Carroll Gardens from overdevelopment along the banks of the canal—specifically for the planned Lightstone Group project," wrote Debbie Stoller, a representative of the group, in an e-mail to Carroll Gardens Patch.

Save Gowanus is comprised of members of FROGG, Friends of the Greater Gowanus, and other interested parties, some of whom spoke out at last month's hearing on the subject. 

Members of the Land Use Committee ultimately passed a motion against the project, requesting that the Department of City Planning (DCP) enforce certain stipulations before moving forward. But the final vote by CB6 will take place at the General Board Meeting this Wednesday, October 10.

"We want them to know that there is widespread community support for this motion," said Stoller. "The Lightstone Group has hired at least three lobbying groups to actively work on this, targeting the Department of City Planning, NYC Council members, and others. We feel it was very important to take this action in order to make sure that the community's voice, and not just that of Lightstone lobbyists, are heard."

According to city records for NYC Lobbyists and Clients, one agency on retainer for Lightstone Group is Friedman & Gotbaum, LLP, though it is unclear for what purpose. Lightstone representative Ethan Geto, asserts that the members of Save Gowanus are misinformed and perpetuating falsehoods.

"There is only one firm lobbying elected officials and the Community Board on the project, and that’s my firm, Geto & de Milly," he said. 

Reasons community members oppose the project range from its "not conforming to the scale and aesthetic of the neighborhood," to Lightstone hiring non-union workers to the introduction of at least 1400 new residents that could potentially stress the sewer, nearby schools, and surrounding infrastructure. 

Meanwhile, proponents say the development could beautify a currently blighted stretch of the canal and provide much-needed affordable housing for those that qualify. 

Geto provided Carroll Gardens Patch with a document rebutting claims that the development project will an adverse impact on sewers, CSOs and the Superfund cleanup. It is attached in the gallery for residents to review.

Where do you stand on the matter? Tell us in the comments below.

Taksa October 08, 2012 at 06:47 PM
We live across the street from the site and we are completely in favor of this project. The Dredgers are in favor. The Conservancy is in favor. All of the neighbors we have asked are also in favor.We want to see a proper mixed-income residence with a lovely public promenade instead of used condoms and drug packets. We are also looking forward to a safer Bond Street at night. Muggings, car break-ins, bike thefts, etc. are very common on this dark and quiet stretch of Bond and presence of light and people will be a great crime deterrent. We are thrilled about the new housing and the eminent arrival of Whole Foods!
Gowanus Gus October 08, 2012 at 08:25 PM
We live there too and don't know of a single mugging, car break in or bike theft (since the neighborhood thief was arrested last February. We also don't know a single neighbor who is for it - many residents of Bond, 1st and 2nd streets turned out at the community board hearing in september to lodge complaints - and have since signed the petition.
Jay October 08, 2012 at 09:18 PM
This project is a joke. It smelled from the start, now with nearly doubling the occupancy - it's officially ridiculous. Let's hope the city does the right thing and reevaluates the environmental impact. Don't forget the original approval was for 400 units and no superfund designation. Now its 700+ on a the banks of an EPA superfund site. Cutting corners on this project isn't the answers, lets keep our neighbors safe.
ANONYMOUS October 09, 2012 at 11:37 AM
If it looks like a toxic site (Lavendar Lake), smells like a toxic site (no reference needed there) and is legally declared a toxic site....well, you know the rest...IT IS A TOXIC SITE. Why would you risk your health...love canal
ANONYMOUS Env. Planner October 09, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Putting this project right along the Gowanus Canal is just as absurd as putting it in Prospect Park. The Gowanus is a valuable place to the city and the community because it is a unique open-space areas. Projects like this will never be able to compensate for the destruction of the intrinsic value of the Gowanus. With that gone, the environmental weight of these large projects could be far worse than what has already gone on along 4th Ave.
lisanne October 09, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I live on Bond Street and I love the quietness. I have been here 20 years, never been mugged, car never broken into. I know of NO ONE around here that wants this! When Whole Foods opens say good bye to calmness of Bond Street, traffic will be whizzing by 24/7. The land can get a promenade without a hideous Dallas style building complex (plus parking garage of course) and the addition of over 700 people!
Don Lewis October 10, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I don't understand why there are people here against it, they are taking the UGLIEST part of our neighberhood and creating something beautiful.
ANONYMOUS October 10, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Don, the developers are essentially "tricking" people into renting and living on a toxic waste site. There is no way that only the water is polluted and land around it remains safe. Such toxicity leaches itself into the adjacent soil...this canal, as beautiful, as it could be is really a death trap.
anonymouskid October 10, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Do you have proof of this toxic water leaching into the adjacent sites anonymous? I have a home half a block away from the canal and we not only tested the soil, but the water, and both results have come back negative. I advise everyone reading these comments to be suspicious of comments without merit and proof. The only valid points are that the local community board is politicking this canal and that the developer (Whether lightstone or anyone else) is using their concept to their advantage. Let's stop making development an issue and raise the issue of our crappy (Pun intended) and outdated infrastructure to the local community board. Growth is something we can't stop unless we encourage poor health and put an end to modern medicine. So let's all be honest that development is a part of life and that the canal will see a change (Sooner than later) because the neighborhood is great and appealing. I'd like to see something similar to the rivers edge like brooklyn bridge park, but we all know the city would have to raise revenue from taxes. Some of us are going to cry foul when that happens so the only other way is benefit from generous developers. Enough with just looking at the negative. You live in a city and it'll only get crowded thanks to it's appealing attributes. Should we promote a tax on new residents/ transplants to deter them from moving in?
ANONYMOUS October 10, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Well no I have no proof but I do wish you luck since you live so close. BTW, DID YOU SEND OUT THE TEST OR DID THE ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS DO THE TEST. just curious. I have no problem with new developments,I welcome the new neighbors, but information is crucial when making an investment. I would have loved to see the canal cleaned up 20 or 30 or 40 years ago..but no..The canal was polluted with ink, not a solid substance...maybe did deeper. Good luck to you
ANONYMOUS 2 October 11, 2012 at 02:50 AM
The EPA will be requiring Lightstone to put up a bulkhead wall that will hold the toxic coal-tar in the land and prevent it from going back into the canal. That coal tar did not come from industrial activity on the site but from groundwater moving the toxic substances into that area.
ANONYMOUS 2 October 11, 2012 at 02:56 AM
If it is so "ugly" why does the Brooklyn Museum own and display a painting of the made from that location? It is those proposed buildings that are darn ugly!
ANONYMOUS October 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I have just one more comment on this subject...I am a licensed Real Estate Appraiser. I have never heard of a bank giving a mortgage to someone who is purchasing property at a Superfund site. Just a thought, maybe that is why these units have been converted to rentals status. Possibly the smaller apartments are an attempt to keep children (the most vulnerable) away from the toxic elements. If the EPA is requiring Lightstone to put up a bulkhead that woiuld hold the toxic coaltar in the land..doesn't that confirm toxics in the soil...look, I am not buying or renting so my input is only meant to provide an open thought process...yes it would be wonderful to have the canal used as an open space park, but not this canal, not ever
Joanna Prisco (Editor) October 11, 2012 at 04:23 PM
At last night's General Board Meeting, Community Board 6 voted to give Lightstone Group the green light for it's Gowanus project, despite the Land Use sub-committee's previous motion to put on the brakes. A more detailed report of the meeting will come from a colleague this afternoon.
klase mybutz October 11, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Joanna Has there ever been any discussion in these meetings about alternative clean-up measures? The EPA's estimate in the past for clean-up is 10-12 years and $500MM. Why not take a less invasive approach now and gauge the clean up measures later? Here's an article about alternative options: http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/09/12/natures-toxic-crusaders/
klase mybutz October 11, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I challenge everyone that's a local resident, lightstone and anyone reading this article to get involved. Get Brad Lander out to roll up his sleeves because he's a hands on gentleman and lets get oyster gardening: http://nynjbaykeeper.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72%3Aget-involved-with-oyster-gardening&catid=35&Itemid=68


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