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Brown Canals NYC: Federal Ruling Tasks Bloomberg, Developers With Putting the “Fun” in Superfund in Gowanus

The Gowanus Canal just sort of sprawls, slack and flat and brown and grease-slicked and awash in pesticides, PCBs and metals, across 1.8 miles in South Brooklyn. It is one of the most polluted waterways in the United States, which is a fact that essentially no one disputes. So in one sense, it’s not a surprise to read that the Gowanus Canal was tagged a Superfund site by the EPA on Tuesday. If there has ever been a more deserving Superfund site it… well, it would’ve had to have been pretty freaking nightmarish. But while the Gowanus is certainly apocalyptic enough in its noxiousness to deserve the Superfund label, there were some in New York City — including Mayor Bloomberg and several big real estate developers — who fought against that designation. Some of this is easily explained — the Toll Brothers at one point planned a 600,000-square-foot mixed-use development (with a freaking esplanade) along the Gowanus; Michael Bloomberg has almost certainly never been to Brooklyn — but what’s the debate, here?

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Zone Defense: Streetsblog on Greening NYC Zoning

Noah Kazis does a pretty tremendous job limning the gordian knot of issues surrounding New York’s zoning policies and politics, but he paints a favorable picture of the Bloomberg administration’s ultra-ambitious zoning work overall — nearly one-fifth of New York City has been re-zoned since 2002, and generally it has been re-zoned fairly thoughtfully. In the instance of Hudson Yards (pictured), for example, the city’s decision to essentially create a new neighborhood was predicated on the extension of the 7 train. Not all the development has been that wise, of course. “Even while the Bloomberg Administration has zoned for growth to be centered around transit, it has also closed off the possibility of more intensive transit-oriented development,” Kazis writes in part one. “The overall effect is positive, but it could be even better.” It’s a story gbNYC readers already know: this is a very green city, but it’s also one in which some very real green accomplishments are tempered by agencies that sometimes seem to be operating at cross purposes and the hugely powerful (and hugely regressive) influence of Real Estate Mega-Developers.

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