Carroll Street is one of the prettiest mostly residential blocks in Gowanus. Its beautiful old Brooklyn buildings shadowed by large trees is actually quite nice as you walk off hectic 3rd Ave and head towards the old Carroll Street bridge. So, it came as a surprise to Jonny, a local Gowanus homeowner, to find the sign below posted on a tree along Carroll Street.
Photo by Jonny Belt
The sign, which has no City Department logos or anything official whatsoever on it, declares that there is no parking because…
TREE REMOVAL Monday August 18, 2014 & Tuesday August 19, 2016 6AM – 4PM…
A single tree being removed from the block sounds awful to imagine for lovely Carroll Street, but it wasn’t the only tree marked with an unofficial looking sign. Multiply signs were placed on all the trees on the north side of Carroll Street between 3rd Ave and Nevins St. So, like 7 trees, some old (30-40 years?), some brand spanking new, were to be removed. To make matters worse none of the home owners on the block were told that their picturesque street would lose half of its trees. The removal of these trees would surely take away half of the shade on the block and a natural sound barrier against the Lightstone Condo Construction going on just down the street.
Jonny thought this was completely insane, as any normal person would. So, he started reaching out to everyone for help. Even Jonny’s young son, a real boy of action, wanted to help and posted the sign below on Carroll Street in protest of the trees removal!
The sign reads:
Booooo! we need our trees back! you! cannot! do! this!
Let’s Stop! this! from happening!
As you can tell the kid’s passion is a clear call to action.
Jonny got ahold of the City’s Forestry Department (Parks), who claimed that the tree removal was illegal. He reached out to the NYPD, who knew exactly zip about the situation. (Car towing seems like something the NYPD Traffic Team should know about.) Jonny hit up Gowanus Alliance and they, along with a few others, reached out to City Council Member Brad Lander’s office. Council Member Lander’s office finally got results. They asked the Parks Department and National Grid to hold off on removing the trees on Carroll street this Monday and Tuesday. As of late afternoon Friday the tree removal signs had all been taken down. However, the halt requested by City Council Member Brad Lander’ office is just a pause, it is not a ‘don’t take the trees’. More actions seem to be needed to actually prevent the trees on Carroll Street from being removed. ( - created by Gowanus Alliance)
The removal of so many trees is related to the the new Gas Lines running through the neighborhood, which are a part of the storm water/sewage management project for the whole Gowanus/Park Slope area. But, since construction began back in June residents and businesses have received very little communications. For instance, although information was provided that Gas would be turned off during the project, some residents got only a day notice that their gas would be shut off and that they had to be home when it was turned back on. For residents parking has not been very fun in any way. Unofficial looking signs have been popping up stating “no parking” for the very next day. If you want to sleep at any point on the historically quiet residential streets of President or Carroll near 3rd Ave, you can forget it. Construction Vehicles start beeping before 7am every weekday and almost every Saturday. The seemly hastily installed metal plates along 3rd Ave will clang frequently through the night with trucks and cars running over their spring board like surface.
For businesses on 3rd Ave things have been way worse. Supposedly some owners got only a days notice before the sidewalks in front of their business were turned into deep trenches with ominous – customer scaring – construction barriers put up to mark the temporary walkways.
This pretty much sucks! But it doesn’t stop there for these businesses. Rumor has it that by digging the tenches, damage was done to some of these businesses’ basement walls. Although the basement walls seem to have been quickly repaired (and reinforced?), it sounds super not fun to have not only your storefront look like crap, but worry that more damage could be done by this project.
The unofficial word from Council Member Lander’s office at the moment is that they are going…
to gather more information about this project and create an opportunity for the neighbors to speak with its planners
Let’s hope that this happens. Because this is just the beginning. The Gas Lines and Electric work looks like it will wrap up first… next will come sewage piping and catch basins! The project is being tied to the flooding that happened during Hurricane Sandy. But as Gowanus residents know, it’s been 100 years of sewage coming up through basements, flash floods in the streets, and more recently, the EPA telling the City to key their crap (sewage) out of the Gowanus Canal that this project is really all about. (um… also maybe that Condos are moving in and that the rich get the perks of repaired infrastructure while the none rich are priced out of their community built neighborhoods. Yeah we said it. We all think it; might as well just say it!)
If you are having problems with this project, call 311. It may not help in the short term, but it should show a pattern of what’s really happening in Gowanus.