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The restlessness of Greenpoint residents surrounding the long-delayed demolition of the Dupont Sludge Tank was exacerbated recently at a Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee (NCMC) meeting with officials from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
At the meeting this month, DEP officials confessed to having difficulties finding a contractor to design and build a highly specialized boat needed to remove sludge from a proposed new tank and loading dock in Whale Creek Canal.
Until a contractor can be found to build the boat, the current sludge tank cannot be dismantled.
And if the sludge tank is not dismantled, the city cannot build the approximately 430 units of affordable housing and the parkland it promised the community before the 2005 waterfront rezoning.
Currently, sludge from the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant is piped underground to the Dupont Street Sludge Tank. From there, it is piped underground to a loading dock near the Newtown Barge Playground on the East River, easily accessible for boats transporting the sludge to other treatment facilities.
Under the proposal, both the Dupont Street Sludge Tank and the loading docks near the playground would be eliminated and consolidated into a facility at the mouth of Whale Creek Canal.
But the narrowness of the Canal, along with its location east of the Pulaski Bridge, necessitates construction of a self-propelled vessel capable of maneuvering the canal low enough to pass under the bridge on its way to the East River.
Around one month ago, the DEP put up for bid the design and construction of a potential boat to private contractors. But they received no responses.
According to DEP officials, contractors that normally build these types of boats have been occupied the past few years repairing offshore oil-rigs in the Gulf of Mexico damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Because New York City has stricter regulations on construction projects than most private companies, the DEP contract evidently was not so appealing.
Despite the bad news about the lack of interest from contractors, DEP officials reaffirmed plans to remove the sludge tank removed by late 2011.
Originally, DEP plans called for the tank to be removed by 2010. Last November, officials said 2011 was the new projected completion date.
This shifting timeline does not sit well with community residents anxious for affordable housing to help offset the neighborhood’s rapid gentrification, which is sure to accelerate as more and more waterfront high-rises enabled by the 2005 rezoning spring up.
“Every month that there’s a further wait is another month where landlords can get rid of their low-paying tenants,” said NCMC member Laura Hofmann.
The agreement to build the 430 units of affordable housing
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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