To the editor,
In your story about the Lightstone Development, you mentioned a meeting convened by local elected officials to start organizing an inclusive community planning process for the Gowanus Canal area that will launch this fall. That meeting was not “secret,” as you called it, but was simply closed to the press. About 40 people attended, including representative from almost every group actively involved in working on the canal.
We plan to launch the process this fall. As we have tried to open up the budget process through “participatory budgeting,” this will be an effort to open up the planning process so that community residents, business people, and community groups can work together to shape a vision for the area around the Gowanus Canal rather than have decisions made by developers, the city, or by elected officials. We will have public meetings, as well as other opportunities for input online and in small groups. Everyone will be invited to participate. This early-stage meeting was to start organizing for that process so that we can make it as inclusive and effective as possible.
With the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to clean up the canal due out in final form this fall, with the knowledge that we have about the very real dangers of flooding from Hurricane Sandy, and with the change in administration at City Hall, this is an important time for community members to come together and do our best to shape a consensus vision for the future of the Gowanus Canal area.
We believe that residents overwhelmingly want a vibrant, genuinely mixed-use, sustainable future for Gowanus that builds on what’s best about out neighborhoods. That won’t be easy, of course, as people have very different ideas about exactly what that looks like. But it is worth trying.
Anyone interested in being involved should reach out to my office and we’ll make sure you are on the list for an invitation as the process gets started this fall. And yes, we’ll even invite the press.
Brad Lander, Park Slope
The writer is a councilman representing Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, and Boro Park.