Greenpointers blow up over Kosciuszko Bridge demolition

Greenpointers blow up over Kosciuszko Bridge demolition
Community News Group / Lauren Gill
By Lauren Gil and Ruth Brown

By Lauren Gill and Ruth Brown

Brooklyn Paper

He blew it!

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should have consulted with local residents and pols about his plans to blow up the old Kosciuszko Bridge instead of announcing it via a television interview last week, they said at a news conference Friday, and demanded state reps meet with them to assuage their fears that the demolition will pollute Greenpoint’s air.

“I was really angry,” said Laura Hoffman, who has been on a local advisory committee for the bridge project alongside husband Michael for 13 years. “Up until now it’s been a great working relationship, so it came as quite a big shock that the governor came on TV and said that the bridge was being imploded.”

The state needs to get rid of the old 1930s incarnation of the Kosciuszko to make way for the second of two replacement spans, and Cuomo boasted in an interview on CBS2 Tuesday that he’ll do that as quickly as possible this summer by blowing it up.

Actually, it’ll be more of an implosion, and only the approaches on the Greenpoint and Queens sides will be detonated — the central span will be lowered into a barge and sailed off into the sunset, officials later clarified.

It is supposed to be a series of “small, surgical explosions,” not a big bang with smoke, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D–Greenpoint) told the crowd. Still, she said, state reps should have met with locals and told them that first.

“If a significant explosion is being made, the community should be consulted first,” she said.

Greenpoint has long been the city’s pollution punching bag — the Newtown Creek is full of oil and poop, waste-transfer stations line the streets, and much of the soil is still soaked with toxic waste from the neighborhood’s industrial past — and locals say they want to ensure the demolition is not going to make things any dirtier.

“Making sure the air quality is there for us, for our kids is so important,” said Williamsburg Democratic District Leader Tommy Torres, who also runs a Little League in the area.

A rep for Cuomo responded by insisting that implosion is the “safest” way to get rid of the spans.

The state had planned on telling locals about the plan at the next community meeting, said spokesman Jon Weinstein, although he could not give a date for that.

The rest of the state’s response was a swipe at Borough President Eric Adams for organizing the press conference.

Cuomo and Adams both accused the other of “grandstanding” and misleading the public over plans to blow up the old Kosciuszko Bridge Friday, after the beep held a news conference slamming the state leader for making the surprise announcement without telling locals and him first.

It all started when Cuomo dropped the bombshell that he was going “blow up” the bridge on CBS2 Tuesday, although officials later walked back the bravado, clarifying that it would actually be an implosion, and it would just be the bridge’s approaches as the center would be taken away via barge.

Adams then held his presser with local activists Friday, complaining that they had only found out about the explosive plans from that interview, and claiming the demolition could pollute the area.

“The community at large and the local electeds should not find out from reading in the tabloids any new methods that are used that could potentially damage the climate cleanup that we have attempted to do in this community,” he said.

A rep for Cuomo responded by accusing the beep of being all bluster about something he had never been interested in before, claiming Adams had skipped five briefings on the project and turned down two tours of the site.

“Implosion is the safest and the most efficient plan so any theatrics or grandstanding from community leaders is not only unnecessary but entirely misleading,” said Jon Weinstein, a spokesman for Cuomo.

“We are surprised that the borough president suddenly has an interest in this project.”

Adams’s office fired back claiming he had representatives at the meetings and that it was ridiculous for the governor to criticize his little press conference given his own recent history.

“It is shameful, yet predictable, for the governor to claim that community concerns about environmental health and safety amount to ‘grandstanding,’ ” said Borough Hall spokesman Stefan Ringel. “It’s ironic that an office prone to theatrical displays like the monthlong opening of the Second Avenue Subway would compare a mere press conference to their own preferred tactics.”

Ringel added that the state failed to mention the implosion plans in its 2008 environmental impact statement for the project, which seems to suggest the approaches will be dismantled via crane.

The state then offered up an obscure 2013 state Department of Transportation document giving responses to questions submitted during the contracting process, which says that explosives could be used to say sayonara to the span. That was question 160.

Adams is demanding state officials now meet with locals to discuss the demolition plan and answer their questions about it. Weinstein claimed that was the plan all along but could not give a date for the gathering.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Cuomo’s usual nemesis and sparring partner, was busy being grilled by federal prosecutors over his fund-raising scandal Friday.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill