Historic Work Begins To Clean-Up Brownfield

Officials, community residents and Keyspan announce important progress at Carroll Gardens site
April 28, 2003
At long last, site work is beginning this week that will lead to the clean-up of Public Place, a long-blighted brownfield in Carroll Gardens. Local elected officials, community residents and Keyspan joined together at the site to announce this historic development. The eight-acre site, located between Smith Street, Fifth Street and the Gowanus Canal, has stood largely inactive since it was last used as a gas plant from approximately 1858 through the mid-1950’s. Contaminants on the site have blocked any potential development.

Following the urging from public officials, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senator Martin Connor, Assemblymember Joan Millman, Councilmember Bill de Blasio, and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff and the State, Keyspan has agreed to pay for the first phase of the site’s clean-up – an environmental remedial investigation –without using any taxpayer money. Measurement work on the site began on Monday, March 3, and removal of debris to permit the assessment to go forward is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 10.

A number of interesting ideas for future uses for the site have been suggested, from affordable housing to a senior center. Direct access to the now-cleaned-up Gowanus Canal makes the project pregnant with possibility.

Borough President Markowitz applauded the news. “This is the way things get done in Brooklyn -- through cooperation among citizens, government and business, that results in meaningful investment in the community. Whatever is developed here will represent the transformation of ruin and waste into something useful and alive,” Markowitz said.

Senator Connor noted the historic nature of the moment. “This has been a long time coming - I have been working on the cleanup of this site for more than two decades - but I’m glad the day has come. Keyspan’s initiative is welcomed by everyone gathered here today, and the community at large,” said Connor.

Assemblymember Millman looked to the future of Public Place. “For the past twenty years I have been working with other elected officials and the community to find a way to revitalize Public Place, which was plagued by over 100 years of industrial use,” said Millman. “Now, our dreams for development of this site have come one step closer to reality.”

Councilmember de Blasio thanked Keyspan for their agreement. “I join my governmental colleagues in thanking Keyspan for its good corporate citizenship,” de Blasio said. “It’s a great example of the public and private sectors working together to see Keyspan covering costs that would otherwise be borne by taxpayers. We will make productive use of Public Place once again.”

The remedial investigation field work is scheduled to begin in early Spring and be completed by the Summer. All work will be conducted during the daytime, beginning at 7:00 a.m., and will be completed by 4:00 p.m. each day. Keyspan has established a special hotline for neighbors to call with concerns: 718-304-2084.