The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant’ Category

second to nothing

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Dredging operations on the Newtown Creek are underway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After a couple of false starts and delayed beginnings, DonJon Towing is finally getting busy over on my beloved Creek. The dredging project is designed to provide a maritime channel for a new class of DEP Sludge Boats (see this Newtown Pentacle post from back in January of this year for details on the new boats) which will use a dock on Whale Creek, rather than the current East river facility, to accept the processed material produced by the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant in Greenpoint.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered yesterday, at Whale Creek – a Brooklyn side tributary of Newtown Creek which the sewer plant wraps around.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, due to a busy work schedule and weather issues, I only managed to get there late in the afternoon and missed the action. This little push boat was busily managing the barges into a docking position, however.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The dredging rig was the Delaware Bay, which is a 225 foot long monster commissioned in 2008, and outfitted with a 123 foot long boom and crane.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the actual dredging bucket, which is outfitted with some sort of esoteric gasket system. I’ve never felt pity for a big steel machine before, but… Yuck… this is Newtown Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole operation is meant to continue on for about six weeks. The initial phase of it, here on Whale Creek, will only be operating 12 hours a day, but once they work their way out onto the main body of the Creek – probably Tuesday of next week, they will go 24/7.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This little Survey boat was buzzing about, and I’m told it carried a battery of sonar equipment which allowed visualization of the dredging work in real time. There’s a lot of stuff down there, pipelines and cables and such, for the DonJon crews to watch out for.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A DEP contractor was on hand performing air quality tests and odor control functions. This was his little weather station.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Also part of this contractors kit was a Hydrogen Sulfide monitor, which measures concentrations of the compound released from the underwater sediments during the dredge process.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s critical, once the operation moves out of Whale Creek and heads west towards the more populated sections of the Creek in Greenpoint and Hunters Point, that you call 311 if you’re being affected by smells or noise. Also, I’ve been told that the NCWWTP Nature Walk will be closed for the weekend, in the name of safety.

If you smell something, say something, and call 311.

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alarmingly low

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Tugboat! There’s a tugboat coming!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bemoaning a life lived poorly with a ribald song of lament, your humble narrator found himself crossing the fabulous Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek recently, whereupon the appearance of maritime traffic entering the waterway sent a bolt of joy up my crumbling spine.

Even feckless quislings can catch a break sometimes, thought I.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One was forced to scuttle at double pace across the bridge, in order to not allow the opening of its double bascule mechanisms to visually isolate me from the passing Tugboat.

Occlusion is frustrating, extremely so.

Accordingly, haste was made for the Greenpoint or southern bank of the Newtown Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC DOT, who operate this bridge, will unfortunately not allow me to get close enough to shoot properly, so several lenses were utilized. Swapping out lenses is not something I like to do in a spot like the Pulaski Bridge, where the particulate dust and soot circulating on the air is particularly dense, for fear of allowing contaminants to settle inside the camera itself.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Regardless of risk, a few swaps were made, as I had luckily decided to carry a full kit with me that day. The Tugboat was Vane’s “Hunting Creek.” Hunting Creek has been mentioned here before, in the post “last ounce.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, I was quite far from the Tug, and less than ecstatic about the images produced by my “longest” lens. The next upgrade to my photo bag is going to be a good lens with lots of reach, an expensive proposition. Of course, the simple answer to not having a lens with sufficient magnification or optimal resolution is to simply get closer to your subject.

Hunting Creek pulled away, towing a fuel barge to some destination eastwards, but I knew that eventually… she had to come back.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunting down anything along Newtown Creek is my speciality, as well as finding the best spot to view it from, so your humble narrator was waiting with a medium reach but high quality lens attached to my camera when Hunting Creek made its way back towards the East River and the greater harbor beyond.

What? I like photographing tugboats.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The warning horns that Pulaski was opening sounded and the tug maneuvered into its course. Tower Town in LIC is really coming along, incidentally, and views like the one following will soon be a happy memory.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

They’ve already blocked out the Chrysler Building. When Greenpoint Landing gets going, we’ll lose Empire State as well.

That’s what I saw on Newtown Creek one day last week, when one set out to cross a bridge and walk about in the radiance of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was walking home – through Greenpoint – I almost stepped on this flat rat, which kind of ruined my day. Curdling horror notwithstanding, the sight shocked me back into a looming sense of depression and reinstated the familiarly manic state which I was hoping to alleviate via the perambulation across the Pulaski Bridge and the banks of fabled Newtown Creek.

I guess it’s true what they say – “A Feckless Quisling just can’t catch a break these days.” People say that, right?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

2014 Walking Tours

Up Next: 13 Steps across Dutch Kills, at Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura, Saturday, April 5th – click here for more information and ticketing.

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Sunset at Newtown Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In Greenpoint to attend a meeting of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, a community group whose mission is citizen oversight of the DEP construction process at the sewer plant, one found himself ridiculously early for the event. Accordingly, having no place else to go due to the pariah status I enjoy when nobody requires something from me, retreat was made to the banks of the loquacious Newtown Creek to confirm that it was still there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Happily, the waterway had not been paved over in the intervening week since my last visit, and given the specific chronology of my residency there- the diurnal arc of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was waning. Atmospherics resulted, as the outer space based fusion ball attained an acute angle to that section of the planet occupied by the great human hive called New York City, painting airborne fumes and miasmas in orange and fuchsia- as pictured.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The NCMC meeting which followed discussed several topics. The disturbing role and intentions of a corporate entity called Veolia (which has been given managerial control over the NYC DEP) came up, as did the subject of a dredging project which the DEP requires to complete a certain phase of the plant’s construction, and the ongoing saga of getting horticultural staff in place at the Nature Walk public space (from which these photos were shot) was also explored. It was all very depressing, but its always nice to be amongst people who aren’t chasing or hurling things at me.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

some assumption

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If you smell something, say something.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the years, your humble narrator has presented glowing reports on the progress and practices of the NYC DEP at their titan Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment plant found in Brooklyn’s DUGABO (Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp). Allusions have been made to one of the local community groups, the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, which has been waging a non stop dialogue with the agency for better than a decade.

This dialogue has played a critical role in shaping the construction process and procedures followed by DEP, and has created a venue wherein local concerns can be addressed and communicated directly to the otherwise opaque bureaucracy which typifies the governmental agencies of the City of Greater New York.

from nyc.gov

“The Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee is pleased with DEP’s progress at transforming the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and adjacent waterfront into a Greenpoint destination,” said Irene Klementowicz, co-chair of the committee. “The plant continues to be an exciting model of the benefits of community-city collaboration, one that includes a shared vision of an aesthetic integration of the plant into the neighborhood.  In a trend that started with the Nature Walk, the Visitor Center is the latest example of these efforts and one that will benefit residents citywide as it provides lessons about the importance of municipal infrastructure and environment.  DEP’s commitment to continue to reduce odors and expand waterfront access and green space around the plant are further examples of our partnership efforts.  The committee looks forward to continuing to work with DEP.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The DEP has taken a stance wherein they wish to minimize the impact that the gargantuan sewer plant has on surrounding neighborhoods, and NCMC has served as ombudsman and advocate for the affected. Accordingly, odor control systems such as those pictured above are an integral part of the plant. Problem is, these systems don’t always function correctly.

If you’ve found yourself walking or biking over the GPA Bridge when you suddenly experienced a withering blast of stink in the neighborhood of Greenpoint Avenue at Kingsland, you already know this.

from water-technology.net

With a rated capacity of 1.2 million cubic metres a day, this is New York City’s largest wastewater pump station and serves an area of 4,162 acres of land, fed by 180 miles of sewers. The upgrade programme involved increasing the station’s capacity to 1.5 million cubic metres a day and increasing the static lift necessary to match the higher hydraulic profile of the upgraded Newtown Creek plant.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The problem NCMC is concerned with (I’ve been attending their meetings as an observer for a few years now. Observer, as I live in Queens)  is that the smells aren’t being reported to the 311 system by the affected residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. In the data driven climate of the Bloomberg era, an alien spacecraft landing in Central Park wouldn’t be responded to without some 311 activity, so according to the DEP- they’ve got the smells problem licked because of the lack of complaints.

Brooklynites failing to complain?

A humble narrator asks other Greenpoint bloggers to help spread the word to affected locals who might be wondering what that funky scent on the breeze is, and “if you smell something, say something” and call 311. It is the god given right of every New Yorker to complain to the Government until you’re blue in the face, which is far better than turning blue because of the smell of sewage.

from wikipedia

In New York City, 3-1-1 is used by city officials as one of several sources of measurement and information about the performance of city services. Important dates in the history of New York’s 3-1-1 service include December 20, 2005, when it received its record high of 240,000 calls, due to the first day of the 2005 New York City transit strike, and June 20, 2007, when it received its 50 millionth call.

southern slope

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Scenes from a short trip up a long Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have heard, a body of water called the Newtown Creek provides a visual indicator of the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens for several miles leading back from the East River. An industrial waterway with a troubled past and increasingly bright future, there are several bridges which span its polluted depths, and one of them is the JJ Byrne or Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. It connects the Blissville section of Long Island City in Queens with the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.

A draw bridge, it is currently receiving a bit of spit and polish.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Great enjoyment is experienced in presenting and narrating the story of Newtown Creek to the curious, most recently while onboard a NY Water Taxi whose use was donated for the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” festival, but it really gets in the way of taking photos, which is my one regret.

We see a LOT of cool stuff from the water.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Lisa Garrison of the Hudson River Fund agreed to come on board as a speaker, and handing her the microphone allowed me to skulk away and grab my camera for an interval. When she started describing several of the cool projects she’s been curating around Newtown Creek (including some of NCA’s tour programming last year, in the name of disclosure), your humble narrator veritably flung himself forward in contemplation of shooting these bridge painting guys at work.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bridge maintenance is another one of those hidden occupations most people don’t know exists, and you seldom get to see what’s going on except from the water. My pals at the North Brooklyn Boat Club see this sort of thing all the time, as they intrepidly ply the troubled waterway in kayak and canoe.

Me, I like boats with motors that stand up and away from the water, but that’s me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

According to documentation found here and there on the vast interwebs, this project is meant to conclude in September. The bridge is administered by the NYC DOT, was built in 1987, and is 1.3 miles from Newtown Creek’s junction with the East River. This also explains why the bridge has smelled like spray paint lately.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Glittering Realms- Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

gnaw and glut

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It’s Maritime Sunday at Newtown Creek!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While hanging around Newtown Creek recently, specifically the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant’s Nature Walk, the Kimberly Poling tug was spotted towing a seemingly empty fuel barge. The tug is a regular visitor to the Creek, carrying refined product to the BP Amoco yard in Greenpoint at Norman Avenue and Apollo Street. Also, its always called towing, even if the tug seems to be pushing the barge from behind- don’t know why, it just is.

Note: in an interesting coincidence, this year’s April Fool’s day posting, “outward course,” depicted this same tug and barge from the Queens side of the Newtown Creek. It discusses both the towing company and the vessel herself.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

That 9.98 acre BP Amoco yard, (see the great fires of 1919 and 1882) is a distribution center which feeds bulk supplies to delivery trucks which handle end user customers. Kimberly Poling and her barge are equivalent to nearly 40 of these trucks, I am told.

Oil refining ceased at Newtown Creek by the middle of the 1960’s, and today its all about distribution around here. One doesn’t think of New York City as a refinery town, but this is where Mobil was born, when it was called the Standard Oil Company of New York.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The expression “bringing coal to Newcastle” would be apt, were it offered to someone whose frame of reference was Greenpoint in the 1920’s. A hypothetical time traveller would probably be dumbfounded at the notion of bringing oil to Newtown Creek, and sending an empty barge back out into the harbor.

Maritime Sunday shout outs to the crew of Kimberly Poling, which is a nice looking boat, abound.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

decreasing confidence

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Today’s post is about enormous things hidden in the mist.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around during a recent spate of gray skies, your humble narrator found himself staring at the familiar geometries of Whale Creek at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Still, rainy days lend a surreal quality to the Newtown Creek and its tributaries. Alongside the futurist architecture and ongoing construction of the great sewer mill, it is impossible for one such as myself not to record such otherworldly scenery.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It is a strange compulsion, recording everything one might see. Some tell me that I hide behind the camera, comfortably isolated from interaction with others- which is always a painful and embarrassing experience fraught with unknown possibility and consequence. Thing is, look at the things which I see.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Deep regret exists in me that so many experiences over the years were not recorded in the manner that I employ these days. Places, people, experiences relegated to hazy memory and the dimness of time. Without a photo of some thing or event as evidence, how can you honestly say it happened?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

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