The meeting, which will be held at The Warsaw, located at 261 Driggs Avenue, is seeking input from community residents with ideas on how the $19.5 million awarded to the community by New York State in a settlement reached with ExxonMobil can benefit the area.
“This meeting will be the first step in a fairly lengthy process in which the community will decide how to spend this money,” said Laura Truettner of Enviro-Sciences Engineering/ARC Engineering & Construction, P.C. (ESE), the company chosen by the state as an independent community outreach consultant to work side by side with the community on the general allocation of the funds.
In 2011, the settlement between the State of New York and ExxonMobil Corporation was finalized, requiring the company to pay $19.5 million for Environmental Benefit Projects (EBPs) that would ultimately improve the environment and public health in Greenpoint through projects that revolve around bettering water and air quality, open space, groundwater, improving soil quality, and the reduction of toxic pollution.
The settlement also committed the state to consult with the community, and to retain an independent community outreach consultant, hence the choosing of ESE.
ESE's goal is to help the state identify the community's preferences regarding the types of projects to receive EBP funding, and to help the state identify criteria for selecting non-profit fiscal administrators for the EBP.
On Wednesday, the community will have their say on what types of projects should be chosen. The meeting will be hosted by the ESE in conjunction with the Grenpoint Community Advisory Panel (CAP), an advisory group created to provide advice to ESE and the state regarding the community consultation process.
“It's important because these projects are supposed to be what the community wants and needs,” said Christine Holowacz, a CAP member. “It has to benefit the environment and community.”
The community meeting is part of the first of three total phases of the EBP.
Phase two will involve the state's selection for a non-profit fiscal administrator, who will then oversee the solicitation, review and recommendation of the specific projects to receive EBP funding. Truettner notes that the Greenpoint community will also be consulted throughout phase two.
Phase three will involve the final selection by the state of projects to receive EBP funding and their implementation in the community. The state Attorney General's Office and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation ultimately will decide which projects will be implemented, but Holowacz noted that they will take the community's preferences into account when making that decision.
“We're happy with the way the state has so far approached the project,” she said.
The Greenpoint Environmental Benefits Project community meeting will be held on March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Warsaw, located at 261 Driggs Avenue.