Newtown Creek Business Revival To Accompany EPA Cleanup

April 10, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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NORTHERN BROOKLYN – When one thinks about Newtown Creek, the first word that comes to mind is usually “pollution.”

Indeed, Newtown Creek was named a federal Superfund cleanup site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010, following the better-known Gowanus Canal by about six months.

A Superfund site, by definition, has been acknowledged by EPA as one of the worst toxic waste sites in the country (and thus eligible for funding from the “Superfund” itself).

During the 19th century, Newtown Creek was lined by such “dirty” industries as oil distilling plants, petrochemical plants, coal yards, and fertilizer and glue factories. In addition, the city dumped gallons of raw sewage into the creek for many years.

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Although the most industry-intensive firms are long gone, there are still  businesses on Newtown Creek’s banks. These include waste processing plants, warehouses, garages, fuel storage facilities, a concrete plant, a railyard and more.

Many of those businesses were doubtless happy yesterday when the city announced the formation of a Newtown Creek Business Improvement District (BID), to be administered by the existing East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corporation (EWVIDCO).

“We are thrilled that our Newtown Creek project was selected by NYCEDC,” stated Leah Archibald, executive director of EWVIDCO.  “We will be able to use the funding from NYCIDA [New York City Industrial Development Agency] to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the local industrial business community.

“We can then work in conjunction with our local business steering committee to develop strategies to ensure that these issues are addressed so we can keep high-quality, working-class jobs in our community for many years to come.”

Because the Superfund process is expected to take several decades, Archibald added, the BID could act as an advocate for these local business when dealing with the EPA and other government agencies.

The BID is one of four throughout the city that were selected under the Industrial BID Initiative due to their response to a Request for Proposals issued in December.

The groups have proposed a range of innovative services that could be provided to businesses within the BIDs including:

  • Cost sharing for infrastructure improvements and waste removal services;
  • Group purchasing of health care and/or products;
  • Improving the IT structure of businesses and making upgrades to networks;
  • Sanitation and Security;
  • Coordinated rail/shipping of imports and exports; and
  • Shared waste/recycling disposal.

NYCIDA yesterday also approved a purchase contract of up to $300,000 to fund the planning for the development of the new Industrial BIDs.

A BID is a formal organization made up of property owners who are dedicated to promoting business development and improving the quality of life of their neighborhood.

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