Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki Announce $36 Million for Environmental Cleanup and Redevelopment of Bush Piers
Joint State, City and Federal Effort Includes the Largest Brownfield Grant Ever Awarded by the State.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today announced a total of $36 million to clean up and redevelop the Bush Terminal Piers. The funding is comprised of a $17.8 million grant to New York City by the State -- the largest grant ever awarded by the State for the remediation of a brownfield site, as well as $9 million from New York City and $8 million from the Federal Government, secured by Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. In addition, the State will provide a $700,000 Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grant and Councilmember Sarah Gonzalez helped to provide $500,000 to help transform this site into a recreational park.
“For too long the residents of Sunset Park have been without access to their waterfront,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Today, because of the leadership of Governor Pataki, Bush Terminal begins the road back to being a productive and beautiful open space. This unprecedented $17.8 million State grant, combined with City and Federal Funding, will allow a comprehensive clean up and help New Yorkers reclaim this potentially stunning waterfront site. I want to thank NYCEDC President Andy Alper and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe for their hard work on this project.”
“The cleanup of contaminated brownfield sites creates new opportunities to return these abandoned or underutilized properties to productive use,” Governor Pataki said. “This $17.8 million grant is the largest brownfield grant ever awarded by the State, and will help to fund the remediation and redevelopment of one of the biggest brownfield sites in the City. This is an exciting project that will rid the site of contamination and allow the City to create a new park, expand recreational opportunities, and protect green space. This grant for the Bush Terminal Piers shows the important progress we are making in cleaning up and restoring contaminated sites across New York State. Working closely with local communities, we are providing substantial investments to protect and restore our environment, and create new economic development and recreational opportunities across the Empire State.”
“I am very pleased that, finally, this land will be cleaned up and be made accessible to the public,” said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. “By using these state funds to return the Bush Terminal Pier site to the people of Brooklyn, we are enhancing the quality of life for the city’s residents with a range of potential recreational activities that this new parkland will make possible.”
The City of New York will remediate the Bush Terminal Piers Open Space Site on the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn between 43rd and 51st streets. Soil, groundwater, and sediment at and underneath the site became contaminated in the 1970s due to the unauthorized disposal of construction and demolition debris, as well as liquid wastes, including oils, oil sludges, and wastewater.
The remediation area consists of approximately 14 acres of urban land that was created by landfilling between four piers (Piers 1 through 4) which were part of Bush Terminal. Most of the landfilled areas are covered with grasses or soils, with mature trees between Pier 2 and 3, and two pond areas on the northern portion of the property. The site is currently fenced to prevent public access.
“Since October 2003, when Governor Pataki signed the State’s landmark brownfield and Superfund legislation, communities across the State, which were once unable to afford costly site investigations and cleanups, are now able to receive the financial and administrative support they need to redevelop brownfield sites in their neighborhoods,” said State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan. “Today’s grant will support one of the largest brownfield cleanups in the State’s history. I look forward to continuing to work with the City to ensure an effective cleanup and a successful site redevelopment.”
Once the cleanup is complete, the City plans to redevelop the site as a public open space featuring a variety of both active and passive recreational uses including: athletic fields, walkways, natural areas, an environmental education center, a boat-building area, a fishing pier, seasonal restaurant booths, a community building, and a banquet hall. The project also includes pier rehabilitation, shoreline stabilization, wetlands and aquatic habitat enhancement, and the preservation of mature trees.
The State has awarded the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) a $700,000 grant this year for the first phase of the construction and open space improvements. The project will include construction of site amenities such as an environmental education center, play lawns and equipment, landscaping and tree plantings, interpretive signage, pavilions, waterfront railings, and site furniture.
Prior to 1974, the Bush Terminal site was an active port. Between 1974 and 1978, the site became contaminated due to illegal dumping. Initial environmental site investigations were conducted under the DEC’s Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Program. Based on the results of these investigations, which included installation of groundwater monitoring wells, as well as collection and analysis of soil and fill, soil gas, groundwater, surface water and sediments samples, DEC classified the site as a Class 3 inactive hazardous waste disposal site, which means the hazardous waste does not present a significant threat to public health or the environment.
This is the second Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) grant awarded to New York City to help fund the restoration of this large, urban site. In 1997, Governor Pataki awarded a $794,543 grant to NYCEDC to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the environmental contamination at the Bush Terminal site, including the nature and extent of contamination. In addition, under DEC oversight, NYCEDC conducted a wide-scale site investigation between May 1999 and May 2001. Further studies were conducted between March and July 2002.
Based on the results of the investigation, DEC issued a March 2004 Record of Decision for a cleanup plan that will include: institutional controls and monitoring; installation of a 2-foot soil cover with 6-inch soil cover in the wooded area; landfill gas controls and monitoring; groundwater controls and monitoring; excavation and removal of shallow pond area sediments; filling and covering of deep pond area sediments; and shoreline stabilization. The selected remedy is protective of human health and the environment while meeting the cleanup goals for the future use of the site as a park and recreation area.
The complete cleanup plan for the Bush Terminal Piers site, detailed in the ROD, can be viewed on DEC’s website. The Bush Terminal Piers Open Space Project is part of the City’s waterfront development strategy for Sunset Park. In 1999, the City developed the Strategic Plan for the Redevelopment of the Port of New York to engage maritime industrial uses on the Sunset Park waterfront. Within this planning process NYCEDC engaged the public and identified the Bush Terminal Piers as a future open space.