Elect JUAN PAGÁN

Democrat For City Council - District 2

View from East 16th Street and Avenue C

The argument of the people has been that the smoke stacks are not high enough for the contaminates to safely dissipate into the air. Con Edison’s argument is that it’s too costly and has refused to make the smokestacks higher.

Southerly winds carry the contaminated smoke over Haven Plaza, directly into the apartments of Village East Towers on 10th street and Avenue C.

The health of the people who live in the East Village has been compromised by political leaders pre-occupied with land development for market value construction. What used to be two working smokestacks on east 14th street have become four working smokestacks. Con Edison had a power plant on East 39th street, but closed it down when they sold the property to the highest bidder, a land developer with intentions to construct a market value building complex. To make up for the lost power, Con Edison started the generators in their 14th street plant and put back to life the two smokestacks that had been dormant for many years .

Children are most vulnerable because they are still developing their immune systems. In fact, in a recent inquiry I made, I was told by NYCDOH officials that inspectors will NOT approve commercial day care permits near this power plant because it would be considered “co-located” and therefore “a condition that may expose children to environmental hazards” (NYCDOH §47:57 Safety). And our senior citizens, too, are most vulnerable as their immune systems become weaker as they age. None the less, it affects the health and quality of life for everyone who lives in the East Village.

The smoke stacks overshadow densely populated residential areas and schools such as NYCHA’s Jacob Riis and Campos Plaza Housing Developments, Stuyvesant Town, Haven Plaza Apartments, Village East Towers (with buildings as tall as 25 stories), PS 34, and St. Brigid School’s Early Childhood Center, and St. Emeric Church in which most of the parishioners are elderly.

Con Edison’s four smokestacks at full blast. What used to be two working smokestacks became four working smokestacks due to gentrification.

“It’s not often that we can escape from this concrete jungle contaminated with so much noise, and pollution, and other forms of stressors… for this reason, the gardens throughout our District deserve the same status as the landmarks in New York City—so they can never be touched by any landlord or developer, kept and maintained as a permanent, natural refuge for the benefit of those who live and work here, and for those who visit our neighborhoods.”

Juan Pagán

The East Village has become an area with one of the highest rates of respiratory disease and cancer in New York City. For example, there has been a significant increase in the number of people with asthma here in our own neighborhood, Zip Code 10009 (East Village-Stuyvesant Town) as reported in "The Prevalence and Cost of Asthma in New York State - April 2014, by Thomas P. DiNapoli - New York State Comptroller." The report refers only to Medicaid recipients and is being measured by tax dollars, not human suffering. And if you include asthma sufferers with private medical insurance, the number of respiratory disease in the East Village would skyrocket. For years, the Bronx has had the highest rate of asthma in New York City; now the East Village falls into the same category as the Bronx, which has high prevalence rates of asthma identical to the Bronx. Children and the elderly continue to suffer the most, and have the highest prevalence rates of asthma as compared to any other age groups. These are just some of the findings made in this report.

View from the East River Park

A view of the Con Edison power plant from 6th street Avenue D.

South-Easterly winds blowing four columns of contaminated smoke into the Jacob Riis Housing Development.

This empty lot on East 39th street (overshadowed by the U.N. Building) is where the Con Edison power plant once existed, displaced by the highest bidder for this prime waterfront real estate.

Environmental Trigger Expands in the East Village
The Deadly Side Effects of Gentrification
Writ and Photos by Juan Pagán

Years ago, when I joined with local elected officials in the campaign against Con Edison expanding in the East Village, I spoke with Dr. Kenneth Olden, Dean of the CUNY School of Public Health at Baruch College regarding disease and the environment; he stated that, “Disease occurs when you have a genetic predisposition and are exposed to an environmental trigger.” Cancer and asthma are among the diseases he specifically mentions.

Northerly winds carry four columns of contaminated smoke into Stuyvesant Town on avenue C. The pre-kindergarten school pictured above at Stuyvesant Town, 629 East 14 street, was closed in 2015 due to its proximity of the Con Edison power plant; its entrance was 175 feet away.

ENVIRONMENT

Cancer is also increasingly on the rise. According to the CDC, New York has one of the highest rates of cancer in the nation. Two elderly women who lived in my building, both I knew personally, died of cancer. Another woman, a sister of a dear friend of mine, who lived at Village East Towers, died of a lung disease. Another woman who lives in the building across from me is being treated for a blood cancer. Another friend of mine who lives in Campos Plaza, was unsuccessfully treated for cancer. I have met many from the East Village at the infusion center who are undergoing treatment for cancer.

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the
cancer cell.
       Edward Abbey

Genetics Loads the Gun, Environment Pulls the Trigger…

The Con Edison power plant, located between 12th and 14th street, which extends from avenue C, through avenue D and ends on the FDR Drive, on Manhattan’s East Village, has four gigantic smoke stacks and other types of systems that release waste in the form of gases.

It was about 15 years ago when I attended the protest against Con Edison's threat to close their 39th street plant and expand their plant on 14th street. It was organized and led by city council member (at the time) Margarita Lopez, together with district leader Rosie Mendez. The Council Member promised and reassured the people that the property on 39th street will not be sold, and that the expansion of the Con Ed plant on 14th street will never happen; in her own words, "Over my dead body...". The protest took place on east 12th street and avenue D, a half block from where I still live.

Higher smokestacks might lower the levels of pollution concentration to which those living nearby or in tall buildings would be exposed to in that it would help disperse particulate-matter pollution more widely. But still would not guarantee cleaner air or a safer environment.