How to influence positive change: Gowanas Canal

What a single individual can do…

The city of New York held a competition in 1990 asking people for suggestions on how to improve the city. I entered it submitting my suggestion for returning water flow to the Gowanas Canal which was stagnate for decades, this to repair the bridge between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens in order to take advantage of this special waterway as a place for nature, people and development.

My proposal was to add several pipes to the sides of the canal at the average water line, to capture water from high tide and release it at the head of the canal during low tide, allowing it to simulate the action of a stream. Well, they didn’t do that, but what it spurred was their realization that a pipe already existed that was equipped with a pump that wasn’t working. Apparently a worker had dropped a hammer stopping the pump some 30 years before… they removed the hammer and the pump and water flow are working perfectly.

Today, you can actually see the bottom of the canal, along with crabs, fish, birds, butterflies, etc. etc. and people enjoying canoe rides. The smell is gone and thank goodness, because I walk across the bridge daily to and from my daughters school… I guess I was planning ahead, lol, but actually it seemed a real shame to see what could be a city asset, be totally neglected. Although no one, until now, knew what instigated the change, I still feel pretty good about making a real difference. It has also had an effect on Real Estate as once empty lots are being built on… this was my case to NYC, that economically making the canal viable would attract investment and tax revenue. And so it has… it has brought a flow of people who appreciate this little bit of nature in the heart of an urban area back into the area.

Since then I have made many suggestions to city officials for what they should consider implementing to improve the city.  One in particular is the road changes to 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, from a 6 lane avenue to a 4 lane plus parking/bike lanes.  While they implemented some of my suggestions, there are flaws in their execution, namely the limited number of left turns when the existing left turn lanes barely hold two vehicle, thus causing a backup and dangerous passing conditions (especially at 3rd Street with the new Whole Foods supermarket), and, an awkward transition from 2 to 3 lanes near Warren Street which is confusing and potentially hazardous to drivers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.