OF NOTE- People In The News: Saturday, January 18

Environmental activist Karen Blondel. Photo via YouTube

The Red Hook Houses were built on top of a lead smelting site dating back to the 1920s, and that industrial legacy has caused the public housing complex and the adjacent soccer and baseball fields to be designated as some of the most contaminated areas of Brooklyn. The city closed the fields in 2012 and 2015 for remediation, and since then, almost 4,800 tons of tainted dirt have been removed — just a fraction of what’s still buried. Brooklyn Parks head MARTIN MAHER led a research team that formulated the plan for hauling away the contaminated soil by truck, to be moved to a landfill in Falls Township, PA. Environmental justice organizer KAREN BLONDEL pushed for additional measures to safeguard the area in case of flooding, which could cause some of the buried lead to resurface. Now the fields are being raised and a drainage system is being installed beneath a foot of clean soil and turf. “The design to elevate the area is a good plan,” Blondel told The New York Times. “Flooding still goes on down here. Sandy was not the end of it.”


Guitarist Liz Hogg. Photo via Facebook

A Brooklyn-based musician recently released her debut classical guitar album and will celebrate with a concert in Greenpoint this weekend. LIZ HOGG, a graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, has toured twelve countries performing classical guitar as well as her own, mostly electric music, played numerous festivals and concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, and won numerous grants and awards, including the Mannes School of Music Dean’s Award and the Maurice Kagan Memorial Scholarship. She was the first American to win a fellowship to study at the Lanciano International Guitar Festival in Italy. Hogg’s album, “Presenting Liz Hogg,” was released by Albany Records earlier this month, and includes works by Mignone, Villa-Lobos, Krenek, Bach and more. The release concert will be Saturday, Jan. 18 at 8 pm at the Park Church Co-Op, 129 Russell St.


City Harvest CEO Jilly Stephens. Photo via cityharvest.org

City Harvest, the New York City-based “food rescue” organization that diverts over 65 million pounds of fresh food from the landfill each year and delivers it to hungry New Yorkers, has signed a new lease for a 150,000-square-foot warehouse in Sunset Park. The site search started two years ago, when the nonprofit’s current warehouse in Long Island City was rezoned from industrial to residential. City Harvest CEO JILLY STEPHENS said the new space will help the organization to provide “more resources for the significant population of New Yorkers who rely on us to get dinner on the table for their families.” 


Writer Joseph Alexiou. Photo via Amazon

Writer, editor, history buff and licensed New York City tour guide JOSEPH ALEXIOU has more or less made a career out of his obsession with Brooklyn’s most notoriously toxic waterbody. The “Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal” author uses the canal as a handy touchstone for tracing the history of the borough’s development, from the arrival of the Dutch, through the industrial revolution to the present-day battles over zoning and development. He was first inspired to explore the history of the Gowanus after a 2007 incident in which a baby minke whale, affectionately dubbed Sludgie by the media, got lost in the canal, beached itself near Clinton Street and died. “I started asking, ‘What the hell is the Gowanus, why is it so polluted?’” Alexiou told Brownstoner. He went on to say that he later realized the canal was situated at the “intersection of environment and urban planning and real estate, because all of a sudden, the area went from being derelict to artistic, the new hottest Brooklyn ‘hood.” 


A beloved structure in Prospect Park is getting a $2 million facelift. The historic Concert Gove Pavilion has served as the “location for many family reunions, birthday parties and community celebrations for many years,” said Prospect Park Alliance President SUE DONOGHUE. The structure, designed by Calvert Vaux in 1874, was nearly destroyed by fire in 1974. Its cast iron columns were saved and the pavilion was rebuilt in 1988, but it has been closed since 2014 due to structural damage. Now funds allocated by the City Council will go to repair water damage, reconstruct missing historical details and repaint the pavilion based on historic images. The project will also restore pathways, lighting and landscaping and is estimated to be completed by the end of this year. 

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