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REnotated | Ron Engleman Jr

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  • The Berlin Airlift and Patient American Power

    Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, having ceased operation a couple of years ago, officially became a city park this month.  It was the same month sixty-one years ago when the people of West Berlin cheered the triumphant conclusion to the Berlin Airlift.  The memory of the Lüftbrucke or “air bridge” is a reminder that constraints and adversity can be catalysts for sound decisions leading to successful outcomes.  Acceptance of limitations is often the first step to better solutions, because incorporating limits into any plan demands a complicated and sometimes contradictory mix of patience, humility, creativity, and daring.  America’s finest hours have not necessarily been when America had superior power and the ability to dictate terms, but when the odds of averting failure were long and the situation precarious. (more…)

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  • Superfund Designation for Gowanus Canal

    The Gowanus Canal of Brooklyn is now designated as a Superfund site and the decade or more process of cleaning up the waterway has finally begun.  Despite fears that this designation will create a stigma that dampens development, it is in the best interest of the people of Brooklyn that the canal receives the attention and comprehensive clean-up it deserves.  The Gowanus Canal has been a toxic, fetid cesspool for one hundred and fifty years; and a legal label or lack of one does not change the obvious reality.  The City of New York had decades to address this problem, but for decades the canal remained a nasty mix of raw sewage and toxic chemicals – an 18th century sewer coupled with a twentieth century industrial waste dump.  The city’s arguments against Superfund status, mainly that it would discourage private investment, seemed more plausible before the real estate market collapsed.  Having a Superfund site in the heart of Brooklyn, isn’t what anyone wants, but chemistry and biology can not be ignored.  If not properly cleaned up, development would likely remain sporadic or stall altogether and public health would continue to be greatly compromised.  If work proceeds as now planned, the Gowanus area has the potential to be a significant environmental, cultural, and financial asset to the people of New York.  The history of the Gowanus Canal has been defined by some through a willful disregard for the environment and by others through simple neglect, but a different future can only be created through commitment and effort.  We may be cleaning up someone else’s mess, but the legacy we leave will be our own.

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