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Jeff Mann L-R Councilmember Steve Levin, Melissa, Donna and Jimmy Pynn and Assemblyman Joe Lentol Jeff Mann

Honors for Number Two’s Number One Man

For the past 20 years, Jimmy Pynn has kept raw sewage off Greenpoint’s streets and out of its basements. As Superintendent for the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), the city’s largest, Pynn operates and maintains the facility for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), keeping one of the community’s least desirable neighbors a good one. Along the way, he has received accolades, not only for operating the plant safely, but for his work as a tour guide, lecturer and liaison to the neighborhood.

Pynn’s service to the community was formally acknowledged last Thursday at a surprise ceremony at the Creek. Surrounded by his family, along with DEP representatives, elected officials and members of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee (NCMC) and Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA), Pynn was awarded a City Council proclamation, a State Assembly medal and honorary membership in the NCA.

“Jim Pynn is a New York City treasure,” declared Councilmember Steve Levin, who presented the proclamation. “It is not an overstatement to say that our city runs because of the hard work of people like Jim.”

Levin, through a chance meeting with Pynn’s brother Richie at the City Council’s offices, arranged for the added surprise of bringing Pynn’s wife Donna and daughter Melissa to the ceremony.

NCA Vice-Chair Christine Holowacz related how Pynn worked around the clock after Hurricane Sandy to keep the plant operating safely, despite damage to his personal property. “He’s really devoted to the community,” she said. “He goes beyond his responsibilities to make sure things are getting done.”

“Jimmy Pynn is one of the most important environmentalists in Greenpoint,” said NCA Executive Director Kate Zidar. “Think about how much pollution gets removed from the local environment at that plant! We might not love having the sewage treatment plant in our backyard but we are lucky to have great local DEP staff like Jimmy and his team running the show there.”

One of Pynn’s major responsibilities was to oversee the $5 billion expansion of the WWTP from the 32 acre site built in 1967 to its current 53 acres and to ensure that it’s functioning well, with a limited environmental impact on the community. He has also become equally known for his “side work,” which was includes conducting tours of the facility, doing interviews and helping journalists cover the plant. He’s even appeared in documentaries about the WWTP.

“I love the community and I have this great relationship working with them and when they rewarded me with that, I was very surprised,” said the honoree. “I really believe in civil service. That’s what I was hired to be, a civil servant, and to be recognized by everyone was a shock and a wonderful feeling.”

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