Tag Archives: environment

Jamaica Bay cruise shows beauty, highlights environmental fragility

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Ryan Haas


Dozens enjoyed a special cruise along Jamaica Bay on Saturday to take in its natural beauty while also learning more about the environmental risks it faces.

The Golden Sunshine launched from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn and journeyed into the waterway bordering Brooklyn and Queens, with nearly 100 naturists, birdwatchers and locals aboard. Part of the Gateway National Recreational Area, Jamaica Bay is home to more than 300 species of bird and 100 kinds of fish.

Although some boarded just for a 3-hour getaway from yellow taxis and honking horns, the focal point behind the cruise was to spread awareness of the pollution dilemma within the bay’s waters.

Renowned naturalists Don Riepe and Mickey Cohen narrated the guide, providing those on board with a wealth of knowledge on what the bay has to offer its wildlife and fellow New Yorkers.

“Jamaica Bay is a great urban resource,” Riepe said. “It’s an amazing wildlife resource and a great recreational area, but it’s in a transitional period right now. Our main goal is to try to clean up the bay and restore the marshes as best as we can, which we’re doing now in the western part of the bay. We’ve got hundreds of volunteers, and we’re working with volunteer agencies to figure out what marsh should be next on the agenda.”

Riepe went on to explain how the bay is “unswimmable,” claiming there to be an enormous amount of pollutants, such as pesticides and heavy metals in the water. He stressed that eating fish caught out of the bay was even riskier.

“You would definitely have to peel the skin, since that’s where the heavy metals build up in the fish,” he said.

In addition to the marsh cleanups, shorelines are looking to get overhauls in the near future as well. One hundred beaches throughout New York State are slated for cleanups this season, 12 of which surround Jamaica Bay.

Among those who spent their Saturday afternoon aboard the cruise ship were Stephanie Goldstone and Mona Haas, who came out to support the movement to clean the waters of Jamaica Bay and restore its marshes.

“It’s a lovely way to spend a fall afternoon,” Goldstone said regarding the cruise. “Taking care of this national park and oasis is essential. My husband and I have been coming here for more than 30 years to birdwatch, and I think anything that can be done, should be done.”

Haas, who visited Jamaica Bay for the first time on Saturday, echoed Goldstein’s comments.

“I’m not necessarily a big birdwatcher, but I’m very conscious about our economy,” she said, “and I think if you take care of our environment, even if it’s just cleaning up our waters, it will go a long way.”


Ridgewood residents tackle housing, other matters at forum

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Residents, community leaders and local activists revisited various issues and concerns affecting Ridgewood during the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association‘s (RTNA) public forum, “Ridgewood: Your Voices, Your Issues,” on Monday at the Ridgewood Library.

“This is a way of starting a conversation and a way to bring together a lot of different people in the neighborhood,” RTNA co-founder and moderator Glenn Dyer said.

The group broke up into four different sections, each representing a specific topic or issue facing Ridgewood: housing, economic development, transportation and the environment.

Paul Kerzner, former Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) president, chaired the housing group. He expounded on his idea of forming tenant co-ops set forth in the first forum back in February, using the analogy of geese flying together in a “V” formation to illustrate the need for Ridgewood’s many tenants to band together in their pursuit of affordable housing.

“Individual tenants in Ridgewood cannot get to their destination by themselves,” he said. “If they fly in formation and work together in a building, they can accomplish their end.”

According to Kerzner’s plan, tenants living in buildings with four to six units could feasibly purchase each unit for roughly $200,000 each, becoming co-owners of the building itself. By qualifying for mortgages and available federal loans, he estimated monthly out-of-pocket costs to be roughly $1,340, much less than the average rent in Ridgewood.

Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), moderated the Local Economy group. Many residents voiced concerns regarding overdevelopment of Ridgewood and the sale of large retail properties to outside brokers and entities.

“We need to preserve Myrtle Avenue for the mom-and-pop shops and smaller entrepreneurs,” Renz said. “Our goal is to have input into getting a better store mix for our community.”

Many residents spoke in favor of a proposed six-to-nine-month moratorium on liquor licenses due to the sharp uptick in bars and nightlife venues in Ridgewood. “It’s oversaturation,” Renz said.

RTNA co-founder Matt Peterson agreed: “There are already a number of bars in Ridgewood. It’s not just a business. It attracts a whole culture.”

John Maier, co-chair of the Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee, led the transportation group. According to Maier, the biggest issue facing local transit is the loss of funding on a federal level.

“Our transportation fund has run out and is operating on a month-to-month basis,” he said. “We need to figure out how to get the money for better service.”

Professor Stephanie Wakefield managed the local environment group. Topics and ideas generated from this group included replacing the trash cans on Fresh Pond Road, community field trips to the Ridgewood Reservoir, poor air quality at the Fresh Pond Road bus depot and the need for additional green spaces in the neighborhood.

“People would really like to find a way to create more green space that is not a playground,” Wakefield said.

CB 5 member Henry Cross proposed holding a legislative forum in which area elected officials could address these topics.



City council concerned over climate changes

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember James Gennaro

The City Council unanimously voted last week to pass a bill which would allow a task force to address rising sea levels and a recent increase in high-intensity rain storms throughout the five boroughs.

These long and short term problems stemming from climate change would be tackled by a panel of mayor-appointed climate impact scientists, according to Councilmember James Gennaro, who heads the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee.

“What we’re seeing more of now, more so than sea level rise, is the catastrophic impacts of these very high-intensity and frequent rain storms. We’re getting lots of intense weather events that are associated with the gradual warming of the atmosphere,” Gennaro said. “We’re seeing very intense rain storms on a frequency that we haven’t seen before.”

The task force was first created in 2008, under legislation penned by Gennaro, to help the city plan for wilder storms and higher oceans expected in the coming decades. By dealing with greenhouse gases, Gennaro said the bill first sought to reduce the severity of climate change. But this year’s “landmark” legislation, the councilmember said, is all about trying to adapt to it instead.

“Climate change is happening nonetheless,” he said. “We don’t control the fate of the climate around the world by reducing our own greenhouse gas. We’ll still be getting the effects.”

Gennaro said the panel — made up of private entities and representatives of city, state and federal agencies — would be called upon to bring “all of the best scientists together” to figure out the potential impacts of climate change in the city and develop protective policies around them.

Members of the task force, which will make recommendations no less than once every three years, will also brainstorm on infrastructure remedies, including the use of storm surge barriers, and improvements to the city’s sewer system, to make sure coastal parts of the city do not get flooded.

“Common sense policies,” Gennaro said, like where to develop complex buildings in the city away from future sea level complications, will also be considered by the panel.

“Last month was the hottest ever on record, and it’s only one example of the extreme weather New York City has experienced in recent years,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “If this isn’t a call to action, I don’t know what is. We must act decisively now to address severe climate trends or we’re going to face tougher decisions down the road.”