See if environmental remediation is already happening
Because of historic pollution along all New York City waterways, many waterfront properties have cleanup plans in place or remediation may be needed. These include cleanups of Federal Superfund sites by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Federal Superfund sites in NYC are located along and include the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) also has Brownfield Cleanup and NYS Superfund sites in New York City.
To see if a publicly owned waterfront property is part of a New York State cleanup effort, check the Open Accessible Space Information System (OASIS). This online map is a great source of information on zoning, open space, the environment, and more for New York City communities, and includes information about environmental impacts and cleanups for each property in New York City.
Get public money to do planning and environmental remediation for the site
A special program of New York State was created to help municipalities, community groups and community boards get involved in local cleanup efforts: the Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program. The BOA Program, administered by the NYS Department of State, sometimes has funding that can be used to plan for the cleanup and the revitalization of brownfield sites, which are defined as vacant or abandoned sites where contamination has prevented a new use for the land. (Sadly, as of October 2017, the program has no funding.)
There are six designated BOAs in New York City, and lots of groups working on getting their neighborhoods designated. The designated ones are:
- Harlem River BOA
- Port Morris Harlem Riverfront BOA
- Sunset Park BOA
- Cypress Hills BOA
- Jamaica BOA
- West Brighton BOA
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) works with BOA grantees to provide site assessments and technical advice regarding the cleanup plan for the brownfield sites. Financial assistance for up to 90% of the total project cost may be made available to grantees. Check the Brownfield Opportunity Area Fact Sheet for information about the steps of this process.
Lots that are in designated BOAs are marked individually on the property pages on this website, too.