Despite most of her colleagues in local government offering an opinion on the designation of the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, Rep. Yvette Clarke has largely remained silent — and the Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development (CORD) is hoping she speaks up soon.
The grassroots organization has launched a letter writing campaign urging the federal lawmaker to take a stance on the controversial matter.
“When a community is as solidly behind a major health issue like the canal’s clean up, we expect the elected officials to stand with us, since that person was elected to do just that,” said Triada Samaras, CORD’s co-founder. “It’s a question of solidarity,” she continued. “And its a question of what’s right and being heard as a community.”
Rep. Nydia Velázquez has already spoken out in favor of the designation, as have state Senators Daniel Squadron and Velmanette Montgomery, along with Assemblymember Joan Millman. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Councilmember Bill de Blasio have both said they don’t support the designation. Bloomberg, in particular,has been staunchly opposed to the federally-overseen clean-up, arguing the stigma of Superfund could drive away millions in planned residential development. The canal was nominated for inclusion in the Superfund program last spring.
Clarke said through a spokesperson that she has a meeting planned “imminently” with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.“From there, we will be going forward on making the correct decision about where we stand on Gowanus,” said Clarke spokesperson Judith Kargbo. “She really wants to focus on the facts surrounding the canal — she’s not basing it on politics. It’s too important to rush and make a mistake.”
She said her boss “really wants to keep in sight the health of the canal and how it affects the constituents.”
Samaras, an artist, recently worked with the not for profit group Starting Artists, on a project that helped local teens create “airborne contaminant masks,” in response to the polluted canal’s proximity to their homes.The project, she said, helps “let students know their artwork can come from a vital community concern.”