The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for September 4th, 2013

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.


“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.


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.

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