Newtown Creek is the longtime spill zone for oil refineries along Greenpoint's industrial waterways. All the big names have had facilities along its banks—between BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil, an estimated 30 million gallons of oil has leaked into Greenpoint's water and soil during the 19th century.
Companies have since started to pay their dues for the damage, and the next installment of "I'm-sorry-for turning-your-creek-bed-into-black-mayonnaise" money will be used to fund some pretty neat (and green) projects that Greenpointers have a chance to vote on later this month.
The Greenpoint Community Envrionmental Fund (GCEF) is a $19.5 million grant program given to Greenpoint by the New York State Office of the Attorney General and Department of Evironmental Conservation. The money came from a settlement with ExxonMobil over oil spillage.
GCEF has already given $395,000 in small grants of $25,000 or less over the last year. They've funded projects like Soil Cycle, a mobile composting initiative by La Casista Verde, an Urban Oasis in Mcglorlick Park built by the Audobon Society and a floating classroom run by the North Brooklyn Boat Club.
Now, the GCEF is considering 13 projects for larger grants of $25,000 to two million dollars, as well as two 'Legacy Grants" of over two million dollars. Unfortunately, there isn't enough money left in the grant for all of them, so GCEF is turning to the community to decide which projects will receive funding.
On November 20 and 22 the group will hold a "preference vote" to allow residents of the 11222 area code to vote for their choice of projects, the results of which will help decide which projects get the cash.
Read about all the proposed projects here. The only trouble Greenpointers will face is which of the imaginative ideas to choose from.
The initiatives range from straight forward to more complex: The City Parks Foundation is seeking money to plant 500 new street trees and remove up to 25,000 square feet of concrete, but on the other end of the spectrum, HabitatMap, Inc. wants to give Greenpointers wearable sensors and smartphones to track their own air quality and pollution. Greenpoint Library has its name in the hat for a second floor expansion and green roof, and there are a myriad of educational programs to choose from, one of which is from the National Wildlife Federation that would hire "sustainability coaches" for Greenpoint schools to educate the future generations how to not dump toxins into the water.
Voting will take place on November 20, from 12 to 12:30 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Polish and Slavic Center (177 Kent Street) and again on November 22 from 10 am to 3 p.m. at the Polish National Home "Warsaw" at 261 Driggs Avenue. ID is required to prove 11222 residency and voters must be 16 years old to participate.