Guv is last hope for Gowanus builders
Insiders say only the Paterson administration can stop the federal government from designating Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site. Opponents of Superfund status, who favor a Bloomberg administration clean-up plan that they claim would be faster, initially thought local members of Congress could persuade the federal Environmental Protection Agency to back down. But that hasn’t worked.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez hasn’t taken a strong position either way, and seems to lean in favor of a Superfund designation. Rep. Yvette Clarke has taken no stance and has not even met with Superfund opponents. Sen. Schumer, who lives in the adjacent neighborhood of Park Slope, has staffers looking for a solution but is on the fence and is not expected to come down heavily against the EPA.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron has been an enthusiastic supporter of Superfund status, to the dismay of the Bloomberg administration. (If nothing else, Squadron is demonstrating independence; his 2008 election to office was powered in part by Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement.) Councilman Bill de Blasio favors the mayor’s plan, but he cannot budge the EPA.
That leaves the governor as the last hope for Superfund opponents—led by developers who say banks won’t finance their projects if the canal area gets Superfund status, which can linger for decades. They have been trying to line up community, political and editorial support before making their pitch to Gov. Paterson. The governor, of course, has his own problems, and it is not clear if he will order state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis to rescind the DEC’s request for a Superfund designation.
The Bloomberg administration did persuade the DEC to ask the EPA to consider Bloomberg’s alternative clean-up plan. But the EPA regarded the DEC’s letter as the Paterson administration merely fulfilling a request from Bloomberg, not as an endorsement of his plan.