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Archive for December 30th, 2009

In the cold waste 2

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from Vernon Blvd., Queensboro – photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite fingertips bleached to parchment white by biting wind and polar conditions, the cold waste beckons, and your humble narrator perseveres.

The relict shores of Ravenswood’s 3rd world persist in atavist glory at Vernon Blvd. and 44th drive, near the Gordon Triangle, which is what passes for a city park in this stronghold of the Oligarchs.

Brutal realities confront one here, 1 and 2 family homes still can be found, abutting vast victorian mill buildings converted to warehouse duty in the early 20th century. Fingerprints, left by the fattened digits of the masters, greasily smear across the neighborhood- every “available” sign on a relict warehouse is a signal of avarice and intent.

Taxis parked – photo by Mitch Waxman

At 46th avenue, the brick horizon opens, and a glimpse of the shining city is offered. Soon, this viewpoint and vantage will be occluded by yet another high rise spire, a warehouse offered to white collar laborers. Where will the unwashed who cook- and clean- and build- live and work when this 3rd world is gone- ground beneath the jeweled heel of progress?

The children of these new residents- where will they play and go to school? What will happen to the fragile infrastructure of 19th century streets, where wounds to the modern asphalt reveal victorian cobblestones? Why is the municipality not requiring the construction of new subway stations and schools, or at least sewers, from these Oligarchs for the rapacious profits they will garner from these grand projects?

Soil remediation tent – photo by Mitch Waxman

All the poisons in the mud will leach out, in the end.

The parable is exemplified at Anable Basin, at 5th street, where a second attempt at remediating the industrial history and unmentioned past of Ravenswood and Hunters Point is underway. This extant of the QueensWest development, whose previous metastasizes eradicated the historic district between the LIRR powerhouse and the LIRR Gantry docks, is troubled by environmental concerns that have postponed the plans of the masters.

Lessons learned there have been incorporated by the municipal chamberlins and chancellors, to avoid such expensive delays in a newer and larger project called Queens South just beginning at Hunters Point.

Megalopolis and Brownfield – photo by Mitch Waxman

Home sweet hell, New York City, the vast human hive.

The cement goddess is mother and home, school and prison, always a battleground- it produces children who are survivalist predators. When we walk the earth, New Yorkers are tigers amongst simpler peoples who didn’t have to endure living with… other New Yorkers.

There is a mind set amongst the rich in New York, and there always has been, that the poor can be saved by example- by having the poor live “as we do”. All of the afflictions of poverty can be alleviated- if not cured. Progressive Reformer or New Law Tenement or Urban Renewal or Gentrification or Upzoning, call it what you want- but Caesar is building the new Roman slums in an entirely inorganic fashion. This neighborhood used to be an industrial center, and then a junkyard, and that’s the reason why the ground is poison.

The industrial revolution happened. Here.

Testing Wells- May 30, 2009 – photo by Mitch Waxman

I am not a fan of vertical tower dwellings whose price of entry is designed to bring a non homologous population into an existing ethnic neighborhood as I can predict what will happen a generation or two from now, but I don’t own the land.

True ownership allows untrammeled discretion- if I own a car, I can set it on fire if I wanted to. If I own a house, I can knock out all the walls if I wanted to. If I could erect a forty story statue of my little dog Zuzu directly across the river from the United Nations building- that would robotically defend the city against giant Cat or Squirrel attack of course- it would be my business- because its my property. Why, though, would the City of New York instead encourage me to build an apartment house on a contaminated site instead of accepting the nature of the place and dedicating it to some acceptable usage? Could it just be the installation of a certain demographic and tax bracket into an overwhelmingly low and middle income neighborhood would benefit the status quo over in Manhattan?

Again, I’m just some guy, who doesn’t own anything. They’re rich guys, and in modern America, rich means you’re right- so what does it matter what I think?

Waste Barrels- June 29, 2009 – photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been haunting this place for a while.

Fascinating little project they have going on, which has actually activated some community activism amongst the new residents of Long Island City- the Tower People. Not bad folks these Tower People, on the whole, despite being a denigrated group referred to with smirks and winks by long time LIC’ers. Degreed and lettered professionals on the whole, they are a legion of bankers and lawyers who exist in the warren shadows of Manhattan’s financial district and turbulent midtown by day, but they turn Long Island City from a neighborhood into a dormitory.

A narrow enough lensing of the past can create causality from coincidence, but if you think that Battery Park City or Jersey City is city planning at its best, you’re going to love the new Long Island City.

Brownfield Work Site – photo by Mitch Waxman

The only buy-in for the community at large to enjoy are the production of riverfront parklands, which are remarkable, from which you may admire Manhattan while ignoring Queens stretching out behind you.

A recent article found at Queenscrap describes the cost of maintaining NYC parks at an astounding $10,000 per acre. Using this metric, Calvary Cemetery would need to raise $720,000 per year for groundskeeping, the average suburban golf course would have yearly expenditures measured in the millions, and a midwestern farm would incur costs in the tens of millions to maintain their lands let alone harvest them. I do believe that the journalists out there should take a close look at the Parks Dept. if this number is accurate. Just to be clear, as acreage is an old fashioned measurement not used commonly in the urban setting, that’s a square which is 208 feet and 8 inches on a side. The riverfront parks associated with Queens West will cost as much as $100,000 per acre.

Brownfield Work Site – photo by Mitch Waxman

9.5 acres, and owned by Rockrose Development (which has recently transformed itself into another corporate entity), this is the future home of four residential towers. As of April 2008, some 80,000 tons of contaminants had been removed from the site at a cost of $31 million. Standard Oil sited an oil refinery here in the 1860’s, and the soil is contaminated with Benzene, Petroleum Distillates, and volatile organic chemicals whose detected presence – in trace amounts- would cause the regular NYFD to evacuate and call in their HAZMAT teams.

Additionally, generations of untreated sewage and industrial pollution swirl and mix with the water table of the East River in the deeply cold gravels and blackened mud beneath the place. Sources also reveal that the “clean fill” being used to replace the contaminated substrates that were removed in the remediation process emanates from the tunnel being bored out from under the East River by the “East Side Access” project.

Who can guess, what it is, that still may lie hidden down there?

Brownfield Work Site – photo by Mitch Waxman

All the poisons in the mud will leach out, in the end.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 30, 2009 at 2:56 am

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