There is no quick or simple solution for transforming an area as historically polluted and heavily burdened as Newtown Creek into a safe and vibrant resource for the ecology, community and economy. Our path towards revitalization is a marathon, not a sprint. Even the largest steps forward are not singular events but a culmination of tireless planning, organizing and effort. In the 14 years since Newtown Creek Alliance was formed we have achieved some major milestones: the Superfund designation, upgrade of the Newtown Creek Treatment Plant, creation of public access at the Nature Walk and Manhattan Avenue street end and settlement of the ExxonMobil lawsuit to ensure thorough remediation of the 2nd largest oil spill in US history. But more than just the milestones are the hundreds of smaller steps that are often only recognized in hindsight as making the milestones possible. With 2016 coming to an end, we look back to reflect on NCA’s work this year and appreciate how our efforts both big and small are creating a cleaner and more vibrant Newtown Creek for years to come. Here are some of the highlights:
North Henry Street Study
In February we completed our project booklet outlining a vision for a restored shoreline and community resource on this degraded city owned site. Since launching the booklet, we have continued to push forward in making the vision a reality working with city and state agencies as well as local partners Allocco recycling and LaGuardia Community College.
For the third straight summer we continued restoration work at the Plank Road site in Maspeth. This year’s work included path making, debris removal and the creation of a native pollinator garden. The location continues to grow in popularity for local workers and residents as a peaceful overlook of the Creek and Manhattan skyline. Have you been yet?
With support from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund we held a series of day long workshops with renowned experts ron various bioremediation topics including soil health and urban toxins, composting and microbes and mycoremediation and water filtration. The workshops were a great success and we will soon be releasing printed materials to engage a wider audience with these important topics.
Water Quality Program
Working with our partners at LaGuardia Community College and North Brooklyn Boat Club we completed an extensive 6 month water quality sampling program. We collected over 2,000 points of data and will be releasing a summary booklet in the next few months to engage local communities with water quality issues.
Patrol: Eyes on the Creek
In addition to water quality sampling, 2016 was a very busy year for NCA in our patrol work. We identified over 24 different sources of pollution directly impacting Newtown Creek and worked with responsible parties, city, state and federal authorities to further investigate and address these problems. Additionally, we continued our wildlife monitoring efforts including our ribbed mussel census and wild bird survey.
Under leadership of our historian Mitch Waxman, NCA led over 35 separate walking tours, boat tours and outreach events – revealing the Creek, all its history and ongoing issues to over 1,100 people. We are very proud to be engaging more and more people directly with Newtown Creek and look forward to more tours in 2017.
Kingsland Wildflower Roof
This summer marked the opening of the Kingsland Wildflower roof in Greenpoint. NCA is a proud community partner on the project working with NYC Audubon, Alive Structures and Broadway Stages. Over the next 3 years we will run a number of tours and educational events, engaging the community with this wonderful open space and green infrastructure resource.
It has been a very busy and productive year and there is still tremendous work to be done for NCA in covering administrative needs, dedicating time to working on processes like Superfund cleanup and the Long Term Control Plan as well as expanding operations to increase education, community engagement and on-the-ground projects. While the majority of our funding comes from project specific grants, we also look for individual contributions to help us achieve these outstanding needs. If you believe in NCA’s work and want to support our efforts to transform our local waterway from a toxic burden to an ecological and community resource then please consider making an end of year donation.
Tax-deductible donations can be made online here or by mailing a check to:
Newtown Creek Alliance
45-18 Skillman Avenue
Sunnyside, NY 11104
We are grateful for everyone’s support and contributions towards NCA’s mission. We look forward to continuing this marathon that is Newtown Creek revitalization and working more with allies like yourself along the way.
Bill, Christine, Dewey, Dorothy, Laura, Michael, Sean, Steve and Tom
NCA Board of Directors