Today’s news:

Green near for Sponge Park

Sponge Park came one step closer to absorbing some cash last week, a federal lawmaker announced.

The House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which included $300,000 for the esplanade park along the Gowanus Canal. The funds were earmarked by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, and will help fund a portion of the entire project, whose cost has not been determined. The money will be channeled through the not for profit Gowanus Canal Conservancy, which initiated the park project.

“Our neighbors living near the Gowanus Canal deserve a healthy environment, with plenty of public space where they can enjoy this urban waterfront.This project will decrease water pollution from surface runoff and bring long-term benefits to the beautiful and vibrant Brooklyn neighborhood,” Velázquez said in a statement.

The “sponge” in the park’s metaphorical title refers to the biological action undertaken by an array of greenery that is expected to act as natural filters to soak up pollutants in and around the canal, a potential Superfund site, and one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country. The park, designed by Clinton Street-based dLandstudio, would also help soak up sewer overflows that give the canal its trademark stench. Velázquez said strategies put in place will “significantly decrease” the amount of runoff entering the Canal and remediate contaminants in the water

Plans for the park were introduced April 2008. “For decades, industrial and environmental pollution have plagued the Gowanus Canal. By joining together with community advocates and environmentalists, we can clean up the canal and make this a better place for the working families who live in Brooklyn,” Velázquez said.

The bill was approved in the House by a vote of 247-178.It now goes to the Senate for final approval before being signed into law by the President.

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