Greenpoint

Quiet on the set! Giant soundproof wall going up around Gowanus Canal film studio

November 14, 2019 Scott Enman
Gowanus residents are frustrated that the Department of City Planning hasn't taken much of their input into account when drafting a rezoning proposal for the neighborhood. Shown: the Gowanus Canal. Eagle file photo by Paul Frangipane

One of the main parties responsible for the Gowanus Canal’s pollution is building a massive soundproof wall outside a neighborhood movie studio to reduce noise related to the waterway’s cleanup.

The 330-foot-long barrier — paid for by National Grid and slated to be completed this month — will be made of thick steel tubes, fencing and sound resistant fabric. It will shelter Eastern Effects from racket produced while a different wall is installed along the federal Superfund site.

“It’s pretty substantial,” said Christos Tsiamis of the Environmental Protection Agency after a recent community meeting. “It turned out to be quite a bit of construction. We have resistance to wind. That’s why we have these round steel columns in the ground to supply some firm foundation so it’s not toppled over.”

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Eastern Effects rents its 40,000-square-foot soundstage at 270 Nevins St., which was the filming location for the TV series “The Americans,” among other productions.

Related: A massive steel wall is coming to the Gowanus Canal

National Grid was not required to build the 20-foot-high sound curtain, but it decided to do so to reduce impacts to the neighborhood. They hired GZA, an environmental consultant, to carry out the project.

“We wanted to be, so to speak, good neighbors,” Tsiamis said. “We had these discussions for some time. We were telling them, at some point, we were going to be out there doing construction for a long time. We really have to applaud National Grid and GZA for being sensitive to the needs of [Eastern Effects.]”

The sound barrier is at the left of this picture. Eagle photo by Scott Enman

The noise barrier will reduce sound from the construction of an 880-foot bulkhead wall that will serve as an environmental barrier to prevent liquid tar from entering and re-contaminating the canal.

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The bulkhead wall will be made out of steel sheet piling and be placed on the eastern side of the canal in front of the existing bulkhead (the border between the shore and the water). It will stretch from the head of the canal around Butler Street to the Union Street Bridge and is expected to be completed by August 2020.

Contractors have opted to use a silent press rather than the nosier impact hammer to install those sheet piles. A worker at the canal, however, told the Brooklyn Eagle that construction of the sound barrier would actually make more noise than the construction of the bulkhead wall itself.

Cleaning the canal involves maintaining combined sewer overflow — a mixture of storm runoff and human waste — with two massive $1.2 billion retention tanks, dredging contaminated deposit that has accumulated due to industrial and sewer discharge, and capping the bottom of the waterway.

The soundproof wall runs along the side of Eastern Effects’ sound stage. Eagle photo by Scott Enman

This will not be the only time that Eastern Effects’ operations will be disturbed by remediation efforts.

The city, which is responsible for building the tanks — one of which will be installed at the head of the canal by Butler Street — will be using the movie studio’s location as a staging area for the construction of the larger tank.

Eastern Effects will need to vacate by mid-spring of 2020, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. The building will be demolished to make room for the staging area, and DEP confirmed it is working to relocate the movie studio.

Eastern Effects did not return repeated requests for comment.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.


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