What would you do with $19.5 million? That’s exactly the question community groups and government agencies are asking Greenpoint residents.
This hefty sum of money is part of a settlement between the State of New York and ExxonMobil, which was sued by the state in 2007 when then-attorney general Andrew Cuomo pressed charges for a decades-old oil spill under North Brooklyn that is estimated at 17 million gallons.
The money, known as the Environmental Benefits Package, will go toward projects to improve the environment or enhance environmental consciousness in Greenpoint.
An open house was held Monday night at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to discuss project that were suggested at a public meeting last year.
On Monday night, small clear bowls sat in front of displays of various projects, and attendees dropped a heart-shaped token into the bowl in front of projects they favored.
The categories included storm water mitigation projects, community environmental facilities, and waterfront infrastructure projects.
General administrators for the project were also introduced to the public. These individuals are tasked with ensuring that whatever the community decides to spend the $19.5 million is executed.
The process of finding theses individuals, who represent different community organizations, took time. Each had to file a petition and explain to the attorney general why their organization would be best at finalizing the plans once they were made.
The administrators are Lynn Dwayer and Courtney Kwiatkowski of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Greenpoint native and executive director of the North Brooklyn Development Corporation, Richard Mazur.
Mazur was at meeting on Monday and took a seat at a table full of people and started discussing their suggestions.
He spoke about the money and praised Exxon saying, “To their credit, they have accepted the responsibility.”
“The community that suffered should decide what needs to be done with the money,” said Mazur.
Mazur and his fellow general administrators will meet with the community again to finalize a more detailed plan that will be turned into a formal request presented for approval by the attorney general.
There are no firm dates set to complete the process, however Mazur made it clear that the community will be consulted the entire time.
“We don’t count on us knowing what to do, we’re reaching out to the whole community,” Mazur said.