Bridging Gowanus: Executive Summary
Community Planning Process
The conveners of the planning effort strove to design and execute a process that would be robust, inclusive, and transparent. Over a period of more than a year, through small group interviews, large public meetings, working groups, and web-based resources, the process engaged more than three hundred interested stakeholders from the Gowanus area.
It was designed to build on the extensive body of existing planning work that has been done in the area and to tap the deep knowledge and expertise found within the community. The process began with the community identifying and refining a set of shared core values to guide the process and to serve as touchstones for the eventual development of recommendations. This was followed by participatory workshops where a suite of programmatic ideas was generated by the public, many of which enjoy broad support. The process culminated with public discussions about the difficult trade-offs needed to bring amenities to the community, specifically trade-offs surrounding the controversial questions of density and new development.
The planners, organizers, and stakeholders of Bridging Gowanus conducted extensive outreach to make the process inclusive. Meetings were advertised via local media, large-scale e-mail blasts, neighborhood listservs, and targeted (bilingual) flyering. Spanish-language translation was provided at the public meetings. Two of the large-scale community meetings were held at the NYCHA Wyckoff Gardens community center, and flyering was done in the public housing developments. Despite these concerted efforts, low-income stakeholders were under-represented throughout the process. The framework recommendations attempt to address clearly and affirmatively what was heard from low-income participants and those who work closely with them. It is critically important that continued, intensive efforts based on best practices are made to engage these stakeholders in future conversations around these topics.
The Bridging Gowanus process, findings, and recommendations are accessible on the web, including video from the public meetings with Spanish translation.