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ExxonMobil settles lawsuit with New York State, Greenpoint wins

Exxon Mobil cooperate headquarters in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Exxon Mobil cooperate headquarters in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) | HOST INTRO: Community groups in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn are four hundred thousand dollars better off today. They got grants from a trust fund established by New York State when ExxonMobil settled a lawsuit over an oil spill in the neighborhood. Pierre Bienaimé reports.

ExxonMobil agreed to pay a total of 19.5 million dollars, when it settled the lawsuit that New York State filed seven years ago.

Carolin Wood is a mother and grad student living in Greenpoint. She hadn’t heard about the grants.

WOOD: Oh I think that’s great. It’s about time, it’s sad that it took this long.

It took even longer than she thinks.

The oil spill was discovered nearly 30 years before the lawsuit and oil may have been trickling out for years before that. In all 18 environmental projects will get checks in this first round of grants.

A neighborhood church got $5,000 to explore the idea of installing a green roof. The Audubon Society got $25,000 to build a haven for native plants and migratory birds in a neighborhood park. And a local environmental group got $25,000 to plan public access to a local waterfront.

Kim Fraser has lived in Greenpoint since 1980. She says the neighborhood needs more grants like the last one.

FRASER: We need a huge park. We don’t need a pocket park. We don’t need one acre at the end of Greenpoint Avenue like we have now. We need a whole greenway.

Fraser says the waterfront should be nothing short of a 21st century Central Park, something kids can use to connect to nature.

FRASER: When you can go to the edge and look and see nature and see open space your whole spirit rises.

John Byron, a furniture salesman, says the park renovations are nice, but he’s not so sure that Greenpoint’s current residents will benefit.

BYRON: It’s gonna add to Brooklyn, to the waterfront , to New York, to America, but I don’t know if it’s gonna add to the community, because the community is going to be going somewhere else.

Like a lot of Greenpointers, Byron is worried about gentrification. Rents have been going up and developers are set to begin construction on high rises along the waterfront, which will thousands of residents to the neighborhood.

Bob Grady has spent nearly all of his 75 years in Greenpoint. Over a doughnut and coffee, he says he’s sad to see the neighborhood changing.

GRADY: It’s a shame, it really is, because a lot of people lived their whole lives here and the biggest worry they have now is that… have nowhere to move to.

Applications for the next round of larger grants will be due starting in April. The winners will be announced this fall.

Pierre Bienaimé, Columbia Radio News.


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