e&c — May 10, 2019

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Welcome to this May 10, 2019 edition of East & Creek, the Greenpoint newsletter. We’ll start things of with a local, noxious matter:

e&c reports: Gasoline Fumes of Unknown Origin Torment Greenpoint Residents

Noxious, “gas station gas” fumes of an unknown origin have wafted through the northern section of Greenpoint on occasion for the past several months, as reported by about a dozen community members at a meeting held on Tuesday.

The residents met at Dupont Street Senior Housing, at the invitation of North Brooklyn Neighbors, to describe the smell of “fresh gasoline” in their homes and buildings, and in Greenpoint’s streets. Witnesses described varying levels of stench; one speculated that a recent bout of nosebleeds arose from the smell in her apartment.

Complaints centered around Freeman, Green, and Huron Streets, between McGuinness Blvd. and Manhattan Ave., though attendees living as far south as Norman Ave. also described smelling fumes in their homes. As recently as Wednesday evening, FDNY responded to a report of an odor at Freeman St. and Manhattan Ave.

With representatives from the offices of Senator Julia Salazar, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, and Councilmember Stephen Levin present, local residents engaged in a frank back-and-forth with Rodney Rivera, of the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Rivera detailed and answered questions about the government’s investigation, which began in March and has since expanded.

Rivera and Randy Austin, of the D.E.C.’s oil spill response team, told their audience that the petroleum vapors likely have travelled through the local sewer lines. The source of the petroleum, though, remained unexplained as of the Tuesday meeting.

Illegal dumping struck investigators as unlikely, and an investigation of a gas station on McGuinness Ave. revealed no apparent leakage. Rivera and Austin implored Greenpoint residents to keep an eye out for any dumping, especially of concrete or other construction-related materials, into the city’s sewers.

“The investigation continues,” Rivera assured those assembled, adding that the effort involves the D.E.C., as well as the state Dept. of Health and the city Dept. of Environmental Protection, which oversees the sewer system.

Greenpoint’s history as a dumping grounds for the oil industry remained on the periphery of the entire conversation. But Rivera and Austin, of the N.Y. D.E.C., dismissed suspicions regarding the notorious plume — which is, for the moment at least, several blocks from the seeming epicenter of the problem — while admitting that investigators were “not ruling out anything,” especially considering this new batch of anecdotal data.

As for what to do when Greenpoint residents smell gasoline-like fumes, the government officials and community organizers present echoed each other in recommending that people call 311, call the state D.E.C.’s oil spill hotline — 800.457.7362 — and contact the office of Councilmember Levin. Meanwhile, one resident present had already formed a Facebook group devoted to the issue.

What was clear was that the likelihood of a swift resolution to the noxious smell would require grassroots, neighborhood-wide action. As the D.E.C.’s Rivera put it: “Continue to make noise.”

There would be noise to make that very evening. After the meeting, biking home in the rain — traveling south on Manhattan Avenue — on the blocks between Freeman and Huron streets, this newsletter caught wafts of gasoline.

What else is going on in Greenpoint?

The McGolrick Park farmer’s market opens for the season on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. Go eat your veggies.

Supporters of the locked-out Key Foods meat department workers will hold a rally, also on Sunday. The workers, locked out and without pay since early April, are stuck in a dispute with Key Foods management over their salary and benefits. (Greenpointers)

Meanwhile in New York City…

A historical center in Crown Heights faces a budget shortfall and, possibly, closure. (New York Times)

Brooklyn’s Community Board 2 voted to reject Mayor de Blasio’s plan to relocate some Rikers Island prisoners to a proposed jail in Brooklyn Heights. (Brooklyn Paper)

Developers are getting away with reporting far fewer reports than actually happen on their sites. The NYC Dept. of Buildings has not cited, or fined, any of those developers for failing to report the deaths. (The City)

New York’s legislature moved one step closer to enacting two measures implicitly meant to rebuff President Trump. (New York Times)

Your Subway Weekender

G - Normal service!!

L - Trains run every 20 minutes. Take an alternative, honestly.

Nosy newsletterers?

A reminder! Send your most (and least!) perplexing Greenpoint mysteries to eastandcreek@substack.com. Tips and tidbits also welcome. Random hellos, too.

Thus concludes this May 10, 2019 edition of East & Creek, the twice-weekly newsletter about Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Read the full archives here.

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If you don’t like what you’re reading — or if you have any comments or questions — send an email to eastandcreek@substack.com.

See you around town,