Cleanup at 250 Water St. moves forward
BY GABE HERMAN
As part of a real estate company’s disputed efforts
to develop a contaminated parking lot at
250 Water St., New York State has approved
its application for a cleanup operation on the site.
The lot has been found to have harmful materials,
like mercury, lead, PCB’s and petroleum underneath
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation
accepted the application for the Brownfi eld
Cleanup Program, which was fi led by the Howard
Hughes Corporation in November after many contaminants
were found to be underneath the paved
he current parking lot, near the South St. Seaport,
was the site of a thermometer factory in the 1800s. It
is next to the Peck Slip School, P.S. 343, and the two
sites are separated by a cobblestone street that the
students play on.
Many in the local community have been opposing
development on the parking lot, saying they are fearful
of health risks posed by the contaminants. Community
Board 1 recently passed a resolution asking
the Howard Hughes Corporation to provide specifi c
development plans for the site before going forward
with any type of remediation work on the lot.
Saul Scherl, Howard Hughes Corporation president
for the New York tristate region, told The New
York Times that he thinks the opponents are against
any type of development.
“I believe they have an alternative agenda to maintain
it forever as a parking lot,” Scherl said.
D.E.C. approved the cleanup application on June
24, and released responses to the local community’s
The department said it received more than 250
e-mails and letters from local parents and children,
along with letters from local politicians, including
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymember
Yuh-Line Niou and Anthony Notaro, Jr.,
chairperson of Lower Manhattan’s Community Board
In response to health concerns about potential
airborne mercury and lead from excavation, D.E.C.
wrote that a health and safety plan, as well as a community
air-monitoring plan, would be developed
before any work started. These plans would be part
of the overall plan for the site, which would have a
public comment period, followed by review by D.E.C.
and state D.O.H. before approval.
D.E.C. also addressed many locals’ worries about
the effects of even short-term airborne exposure to
“The risk for health effects from an environmental
contaminant depends on the toxicity of the contaminant
and the magnitude, frequency and duration of
exposure,” the department wrote. “Measures taken
to reduce exposure during remedial activities, along
with the community air-monitoring plan, will help
ensure that the levels of any site contaminants in air
are kept below levels that would constitute a health
Children First, a group of parents opposed to development
at 250 Water St., said it was disappointed by
the cleanup application approval.
“Children First will continue to work with the NYSDEC
to ensure the health and safety of our children,
and that neighboring residents are protected throughout
the process,” said Grace Lee, a co-founder of the
group. “We appreciate the D.E.C.’s responsiveness so
far, and we are encouraged by their recommendation
that all remedial work be conducted inside a large
The parking lot at 250 Water St., with the Peck Slip School
across the street to the right. (Google Maps)
temporary structure to prevent
off-site migration of airborne
Megan Malvern, another Children
First co-founder, said, after
the decision, “We will continue
to fi ght for a third party to oversee
the remediation of the site.
We call on the NYSDEC and our
elected offi cials to provide the
community with a Technical Assistance
Grant (TAG) to fund an
independent engineer to represent
the community throughout
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