Will the Newtown Cleanup Dis Queens?

newtown creek Will the Newtown Cleanup Dis Queens?It used to be the outerboroughs were entirely ignored, even by the people living in them. But now that Brooklyn has gotten so darn hip and with-it, it gets almost as much—if not more—attention than its more famous sibling across the East River. So what about Queens?

That is what Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is asking. The Upper East Sider also reps the city’s biggest borough, and she is worried that Brooklyn might get all the attention when the Environmental Protection Agency finally starts the arduous process of cleaning up the recently Superfunded Newtown Creek.

“The EPA has largely focused on the Brooklyn shores of Newtown Creek—but the Queens side of the creek also has a toxic legacy and requires the EPA’s attention if the Superfund cleanup is to be successful,” Ms. Maloney said in a release. “What’s more, we need to make sure that all of Newtown Creek’s tributaries, including Dutch Kills, Maspeth Creek, and East Branch, are tested thoroughly and cleaned up.”

It’s a fair point. And yet the area probably wouldn’t need the cleanup were it not for Brooklyn, which is home to arguably the largest oil spill in national history, at least until explosion of the Deepwater Horizon this summer. Still, Maloney’s office contends that there is little way to know how bad things are for Queens, as the EPA favored Brooklyn in its testing and studies for Superfund designation, and the agency even failed to list Queens on its Superfund page for Newtown Creek. (Apparently, the page has been updated, so maybe the EPA is finally catching on.)

At its root, though, this—like most outerborough stories—is one of gentrification. After all, the oil leak was first discovered in 1978, and it was not until BroBos began moving into largely Polish Greenpoint that the government seemed to finally care. Given the forthcoming development of Hunter’s Point South and the continued evolution of Long Island City, perhaps Maloney is anticipating the coming wave of yuppies to Queens (er, Quee-Chis?), and their attendant demands for a non-toxic waterfront.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @mc_nyo