Working closely with our many friends, local and citywide organizations, and elected officials, NAG has:
- Shut down the illegal waste transfer station
- Won a new waterfront park
- Coordinated the community 197-a plan
- Reduced neighborhood pollution sources
- Stopped the T.G.E. power plant
- Modified New York City’s rezoning proposal
- Defended Northside jobs
Illegal transfer station
NAG’s organizing efforts resulted in an illegally operated commercial garbage transfer station on the Northside Williamsburg waterfront being closed down in 1998. We then prevented it from reopening under new corporate ownership. NAG led the negotiations with city and state officials, used “people power” and the media to pressure regulators, and retained legal counsel to represent the community during agency hearings. Our district still handles 40% of the City’s commercial and a portion of its residential waste stream, and the community continues to work on this issue through a district-wide coalition.
NAG’s advocacy for the creation of much-needed parkland on the North Brooklyn waterfront resulted in New York State’s purchase of a seven-acre portion of the old Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (BEDT) site for this purpose on June 13, 2000. NAG’s meetings with state officials, its coordination with open space advocates throughout the state, and its organizing and advocacy campaign led to the designation. In late 2003, NAG secured funding to establish Friends of BEDT Park to coordinate community participation in the park’s design and oversight. The Friends held a contest inviting community members to design the waterfront along the park. The results will be announced soon.
In 2005, the City mapped a new 28-acre park adjacent to the State Park. The City budgeted money to acquire the land from its owners, but the funding necessary to design and develop the park was dependent upon New York being chosen to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. As London was chosen instead, a new funding commitment is needed. Accordingly, NAG plans to initiate an organizing and advocacy campaign in 2006-7 to ensure that the City makes good on its promise to our community.
From 1998 until 2002, NAG served as the Northside coordinator for the development of the Greenpoint and Williamsburg Waterfront 197-a Community Plans. The award-winning plans, reflecting ten years of community effort, called for protection of affordable housing, creation of waterfront open space, and retention of environmentally sound, job-generating light manufacturing businesses. They provided a blueprint for the community we wanted: a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood where residents and manufacturers could not only live together, but benefit each other. The City Council approved the plans in January, 2002.
In the late 1990s, Tri-Boro Shelving, 286 Whythe Ave. (between Grand St. and N. 1st.) , which had been subject to complaints about toxic emissions, began using a low-level volatile organic compound (VOC) paint in its spray-painting process. Unfortunately, the problems and complaints persisted because the the new process still emitted VOCs, as well as toluene from cleaning the spray paint equipment and other fumes from gas baking ovens. Negotiations by NAG’s Pollution Prevention Coordinator with the company and State officials resulted in Tri-Boro’s receiving funding for and installing an electrostatic powder spray paint system which resulted in zero emissions. In October, 2003, NAG received the NY Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention for having facilitated a Good Neighbor agreement between Williamsburg residents and Tri-Boro. NAG is the first community group ever to win this award, which traditionally goes to large corporations.
NAG played a leading role in the fight to stop the permitting of an ill-conceived 1,100 MW power plant, to be developed by TransGas Energy, on the Williamsburg waterfront. To challenge Transgas, NAG led the largest protest march in Northside’s history. While a decision is still pending, NAG and the community’s efforts were rewarded in April 2004 when the New York State hearing examiners recommended that the plan not go forward.
NAG provided leadership and resources to the Rezoning Task Force (RTF) of Brooklyn Community Board 1 during the rezoning process. Despite the Council’s approval of North Brooklyn’s award-winning community plans, the New York City Department of City Planning (DEP)’s 2003 proposal rezoning blatantly disregarded them. When DCP began the official legal rezoning action, NAG realized that the community had no resources or knowledge with which to respond to it. We therefore shifted our focus and, in partnership with the RTF, began to coordinate the community’s response.
In order to make sure that the RTF’s recommendations reflected the entire community, NAG then initiated the creation of the North Brooklyn Alliance (NBA), a coalition of over forty organizations. The NBA helped the community gain commitments from the Mayor and City Council to preserve jobs, ensure public access to the waterfront, allocate more parks and open space, and create and/or maintain thousands of units of affordable housing for the residents of North Brooklyn.
Since the rezoning’s approval in May, 2005, the NBA has been working to ensure that those promises are being kept.
One of NAG’s priorities during the past few years has been to defend the neighborhood’s industrial businesses and jobs from displacement and, in the wake of the rezoning, to help support those which are displaced.
During the summer of 2006, NAG conducted outreach for the new Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Industrial Ombudsman area currently administered by the East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corp. (EWVIDCO). We were contracted to collect industrial businesses’ contact information and query them about their space needs, expansion plans, etc. – information which will go into a new city database of industrial businesses – as well as inform them about grants and relocation money available for businesses in the rezoned areas.