Today’s news:

Park soaks up new funding

Sponge Park is set to soak up some cash, a federal lawmaker announced last week.

Planners working on the development of the esplanade park along the Gowanus Canal are expected to receive $300,000 in federal funds, earmarked by Rep. Nydia M. VelÁzquez.

“This project would create much−needed public space, while addressing ongoing environmental concerns. Cleaning−up the Gowanus Canal will never be effective if we don’t also come up with solutions like the Sponge Park that prevent future contamination,” VelÁzquez said in a statement.

The “sponge” in the park’s title is simply a metaphor: assorted greenery would act as natural filters to soak up pollutants in and around the canal, a potential Superfund site, and one of the most polluted waterways in the country. The park would also absorb sewer overflows that give the canal its foul odor.

The money could help fund a portion of the entire project, whose cost has not been determined.

“If you allow plants to manage the surface water, they soak up the toxins and they do manage the smells,” Susannah Drake, principal at Clinton Street−based dLandstudio, the firm responsible for the design, has said.

The money will be channeled through the not for profit Gowanus Canal Conservancy, which spearheaded the park project. The funds were included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which was approved June 26. The legislation now goes to the Senate for approval.

“The residents of Brooklyn who live and work near the borders of the Gowanus Canal deserve better access to the waterfront and a place for outdoor recreation,” VelÁzquez added.

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