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Up a creek: Gerritsen Beachers blast Belt Parkway drainage plan

Brooklyn Daily
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The city’s plan to drain rain runoff from the Belt Parkway into Gerritsen Creek has neighbors fearing for their waterway.

The storm water collection system now under construction will dump the parkway’s filthy runoff — along with all the road salt, leaked oil, antifreeze, and rubbish carried with it — directly into Gerritsen Creek, and locals are concerned about the effects, from flooding to pollution, it will have on their cherished waterway.

“That d--- thing is going to be dumping rainwater — anything off the Belt Parkway — into the creek,” said George Broadhead, president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association. “We’re hoping to stop it before it’s too late.”

The drain, which is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2017, is part of one of seven Belt Parkway bridges the Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct. The storm water collection system will drain three lanes of the highway into the water. But Broadhead is worried that the three-lane plan, which he fears may eventually include all six lanes of the parkway, is going to overwhelm the relatively small creek, and would be better absorbed into the much larger Jamaica Bay.

“Why not into Jamaica Bay, where there is so much more water to dilute it?” said Broadhead.

One community activist who has spent more than 15 years fighting to cleanup the local creek said that sending the water into Jamaica Bay is a more logical choice since it wouldn’t directly disturb a residential area.

“They’re basically putting the pollutants where the people live, swim, and play, rather than the larger open body that goes out to sea,” said longtime activist Michael Taylor.

The Department of Transportation said all of the storm water collection systems will gather, convey, and discharge rainwater from the roadways into the nearest body of water, and are designed and constructed according to the requirements of Department of Environmental Protection, which will monitor the storm water collection system after the construction system is completed.

One Gerritsen Beacher pointed out that a natural filtering system had long handled the rainwater runoff, and absorbed the pollution and debris that will now flow directly into the creek — and she said this change would definitely disturb the water, fish, and residents.

“It came off of the roadway and into the marsh, which is nature’s filter,” said Kelly O’Brien, who has lived in Gerritsen Beach for 20 years. “How could they be okay with gasoline and antifreeze and all that stuff dumping into the water and think that won’t affect the marine life?”

One longtime local, whose home looks out over the construction site, said it isn’t the sight of the massive drain that bothers him — it is the unforeseen consequences for the environment in Gerritsen Creek.

“It is not seeing it — it is the effect,” said Ray Schaefer. “There is more than meets the eye.”

Broadhead said caring for the creek is not about politics — it is about ensuring that the neighborhood stays safe for the next generation.

“I never expected to be involved with environmental issues, but I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and if we don’t concern ourselves with oceans, rivers, and creeks now, it may be too late for them to turn back the tide,” said Broadhead, who added that his daughter was thrilled with his new activism. “She said, ‘Good for you, Daddy, I’m proud of you.’ ”

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
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Reader Feedback

I couldnt agree more ,this is poor management and no regard for the people or the habitat . The runoff should have been on the other side of the belt pkwy. Look at the old Round House system in the middle of the bay the water is piped there after its treated instead of just putting it back next to the plant. This mixes with much more water and stronger tides for much better dilution . This isnt rocket science instead of ruining anymore water quality where there is public beaches and fishing and water skis only to step in later and declare the water in the creek off limits do to pollution is not a fix. Also when your house on water is now worth less money due to the water quality and the same will go for the rest of the area possibly since the water is most of the appeal here. This area struggled to come back from Sandy mostly due to great people and neighbors that are here we overcame and bounced back . Instead of more preventable challenges, do right thing and divert the water into the bay and not the creek.If this plan was shared with the residents first myself and alot of other people who are fisherman would who have said something in the first place. Do the right thing and fix it. Enough money has been spent and wasted on this PKWY project already. I just watched the new bridge stantion get taken down because it wasnt poured right put the money to good use and save the area.
Aug. 15, 2014, 12:13 pm
Janice D from Marine Park says:
After all the money and time they spent making MauMau/White Island into a "bird sanctuary", now they're going to poison the water and the fish that the birds eat? Anybody home?
Aug. 15, 2014, 6:37 pm
adrastos from bath beach says:
they worried about the water???, how about all the airplanes that are flying over all of brooklyn neighborhoods and queens neighborhoods, over peoples backyards, all day, every day at 30 seconds apart, from 7an till midnight, what is that, around 1200 planes a day???? landing and taking off at to JFK and LGA where do we all think this jet fuel is going?

in our air and water and in our lungs.....and these people are worried about drainage.......we are breatheing in toxic cancerous jet fuel all day every day, people, time to wake up
Aug. 19, 2014, 9:06 am
George R. Broadhead from Gerritsen Beach says:
There is no doubt there are other environmental issues, but we have elected to address the pollution of the waters surrounding our peninsula. One has to begin somewhere. I would suggest the person from Bath Beach lead the way on the pollutants from the sky. We are certainly interested in more than "drainage". We are also looking into the release of sewage from some of the commercial enterprises nearby as well. Abandoned boats, toxic rotting docks, and more. I wish you and us good luck!
Aug. 19, 2014, 4:02 pm
Robert. Lang from Marine. Park says:
Everyone. Who. Lives. In. This. Area. Needs. To. Get. Tighter. And. Stop. This. Drain. Pipe. From. Begging. Installed. This. Is. A. Serious. Threat. To. Our. Beaters. Our. Fis. Our. People. And. Our. Environment.
May 8, 2015, 9:29 am

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