Disparate factions unite to ‘take back’ Gowanus from overdevelopment

By Matthew Taub
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief

What do a self-styled “provocateur,” a mohawked leather jacket punk rocker, a dredger, a cartographer, a cane-wielding rabble rouser, a public housing advocate and a sprinkling of neighborhood homeowners, preservationists, attorneys and industrial workers all have in common?

Council Member Brad Lander has somehow convinced them to band together–against him, and developers interested in the Gowanus canal.

“Lander’s whole process was rigged to create a forced consensus to give the developers a green light to go forward,” said Debbie Stoller, a resident of Gowanus for 11 years. “This meeting is meant to set that straight.”

She was referencing “Take Back Gowanus,” a meeting Wednesday night of local residents frustrated after their City Council member’s recent “Bridging Gowanus” three-part series failed to live up their democratic ideal, despite a claimed intention of fostering community engagement about the future of the neighborhood.

The event was hosted by local resident Joseph Alexiou, whose concerns about the one-sided, pro-development tone and direction of Lander’s meetings–concerns he claimed he addressed to the council member directly–went unanswered.

“I’m grateful to council member Lander,” Alexiou said, “but his process was not democratic, and not inclusive. It was downright misleading. We never had a chance to voice our concerns.”

The “take back” meeting–held at the upscale 501 Union Street venue at Alexiou’s expense–brought forth a range of ideas from local residents.

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