Tag Archives: Floyd Bennett Field

Kayaking could bring tourism, revenue to Jamaica Bay


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Jamaica Bay has been many things.

It was a fishing haven. It was the site of a deadly plane crash. And it was the catalyst for some of Sandy’s devastation.

But soon, the bay might attract more tourism when the region needs it the most.

Community Board 14 Chair Dolores Orr said the Parks Department had presented the board’s park committee with rough plans for kayak launching bays in Rockaway, along with concession stands throughout areas that are part of Gateway National Park.

Orr said the community desperately needed the project even before Sandy, as it would bring more tourism and revenue to the area.

“We are very much in favor of that in Rockaway,” she said. “We have a very large kayaking community.”

Kayaking has tapped into the water sports subculture in Rockaway. The New York Times last summer featured a story about kayaking trips in the bay. Access, however, has been restricted for many — especially after the storm cause extensive damage and pollution.

Gateway recently re-opened two launchings at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, but a Queens opening could still be way off. Orr said the board had proposed a launching site at Beach 88th Street about a year-and-a-half ago, and that Parks had begun to look into it as a potential site.

“Public access to Jamaica Bay was extremely limited prior to Sandy,” she said. “So after Sandy it’s even more significant.”

 

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Congressmember Steny Hoyer tours Rockaways with Meeks


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Seeing is believing, according to Congressmember Gregory Meeks, and so he called upon fellow Congressmember Steny Hoyer to view Queens’ post-Sandy damage firsthand.

“We need to get more people to come out and see,” said Meeks after he and Hoyer toured the Rockaways on Thursday, December 6.

Hoyer is the Minority Whip, the second highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. The influential Maryland congressmember can pass along the message of what he saw and speed the acquisition of federal aid, according to Meeks.

“Some people think we’re just asking for money, and they don’t know why,” said Meeks. “Once they see, I believe they believe.”

For their Rockaways tour, Hoyer and Meeks joined Colonel Kent Savre and Colonel Trey Jordan, both of the Army Corps of Engineers. Savre and Jordan briefed the congressmembers on the extent of the damage and the recovery efforts.

“I think it’s wonderful that he came out,” said Dolores Orr, Community Board 14 chair. “Seeing it on TV and in pictures doesn’t show the magnitude of the issues.”

Throughout the course of the day, Hoyer and Savre viewed debris disposal at Floyd Bennett Field while traveling to Jacob Riis Park, where they met Meeks and Jordan. Hoyer and Meeks then continued to the Breezy Point fire site, Neponsit, Rockaway Park, Shore Front Parkway and Beach 86th Street.

“As recovery efforts continue, I will be working with the Obama administration and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that Rockaway Peninsula and other affected communities across the East Coast have the resources needed to clean up and recover,” said Hoyer.

Aside from seeing the destruction at face value, Hoyer was able to view damaged home, business and beachside infrastructure. “There are weather incidents with catastrophic consequences,” he said, adding that urgency should to be put into rebuilding, and the coordination in doing so needs to be much better.

Orr, who also heads the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, spoke for all residents when saying that there was a great need for more jetties on multiple points of the beach, and that when the boardwalk is rebuilt, a sea wall that will protect the community should be included.

“The fact that [Hoyer] came up here does give us some hope that we have finally reached the exposure that we have been waiting 40 years for,” she said. “We live here. It’s not new housing stock. It’s been a need.”

Obama signs bill for gas pipeline under the Rockaways


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Williams

A bill allowing a natural gas pipeline to be constructed in Queens and Brooklyn has been signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act, passed on November 27, authorizes Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to issue permits to build and operate a three-mile pipeline underneath Jacob Riis Park and Jamaica Bay in the Rockaways to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

The measure is expected to bring clean energy to the city, while creating 300 local construction jobs and generating about $265 million in construction activity, officials said.

“Given the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, this law could not come at a more critical time for New York City,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “This pipeline will help us build a stable, clean energy future for New Yorkers and will ensure the reliability of the city’s future energy needs.”

The new pipeline will be built off the existing Williams pipeline — which brings natural gas from New Jersey to Long Island —- along a planned route through the Gateway National Recreation Area that avoids residential, commercial and environmentally sensitive areas, said Congressmember Michael Grimm.

“At a time when many in [the city] have suffered such great loss, this is welcomed news as we seek to rebuild our local economy and our communities,” Grimm said.

But the pipeline is not “green,” according to activists against the measure, who say it carries a carbon footprint and several environmental hazards, including the risk of possible explosions.

“This is reckless,” said Peter Rugh, spokesperson for Occupy Wall Street Environmental Solidarity. “The area where the pipeline is going through has been decimated by rising tides and flood waters. [Residents] are rebuilding, and they want to rebuild in a green fashion and not with a mega gas pipeline.”

Dan Hendrick, spokesperson for the New York League of Conservation Voters, said the pipeline comes with both positive and negative aspects.

Construction would cause short-term environmental disturbances to the sea floor, Hendrick said, temporarily affecting the “robust” marine ecology of some 100 types of fish and crabs. The potential loss of public parkland use at Floyd Bennett Field has also been at the root of controversy, he said.

But the city would be moving toward a future of natural gas, Hendrick said, which burns cleaner and emits less pollutants.

“Clearly there are some negatives, but there are definitely some positives,” Hendrick said, “and that’s sort of what makes this challenging.”

 

Tempers flare over burning Sandy tree debris


| editorial@queenscourier.com

By Denise Romano

The city is burning Superstorm Sandy tree debris at Floyd Bennett Field in order to convert it into reusable material, enraging environmentalists who claim that the burn-off will compromise air quality.

In a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will burn more than 15,000 trees damaged by the storm, which will be converted into biofuel, mulch and landfill cover.

A six-day pilot program began on November 28, in which some of the debris is incinerated using an “air curtain burner,” which is a ceramic lined firebox about the size of a shipping container that uses large fans to make a “curtain” of air that prevents embers and ash from escaping. The Army Corps said they have already successfully used this method in Texas, Alabama and in Brookhaven on Long Island.

Air quality results will be closely monitored during the pilot program. Results from November 29, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indicate that, “Monitored levels of fine particles, which were measured over a 24-hour period that included the pilot burn, met the EPA’s health-based standard for fine particles,” according to an update on the EPA’s website, that also indicates that the agency will do further testing on air samples in a laboratory, and report the results are they become available.

Although the EPA and city agencies are monitoring the process from eight different stations surrounding the area, environmental and health groups, including the American Lung Association of the Northeast, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, New York Law and Environmental Justice Project and Citizens’ Environmental Coalition contend that the debris is detrimental to the city’s air quality.

Groups said the operation would emit at least 26 pollutants specified in the Clean Air Act as hazardous into the atmosphere.

“Approving this proposal to allow debris to be burned would add insult to injury. Many parts of our region are still cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy and are already dealing with major indoor air quality issues because of flooding, water damage and the resulting mold growth,” said Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “This proposal would increase air pollution which can also make people sick and send them the hospital. We urge the city and state to use safe non-combustion alternatives when disposing the remaining waste.”

“It is a terrible waste to just burn the trees that came down during the storm into ashes and smoke,” said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG. “There is a strong market for wood chips which can be used for garden mulch and a variety of other purposes. In this way, these casualties of the storm can be given a new life.”

Local leaders are also opposed, including Saul Needle, the chair of Community Board 18, which includes Floyd Bennett Field in its catchment area.

“Many years ago, the city banned the burning of leaves and trees because the bi-product is smoke, which contains carcinogens and various other not good things,” he explained. “I can’t see how over the course of time, these things have changed. I think it’s not a good thing to do.

“Regrettably,” Needle went on, “I can’t offer a viable solution, but I think before they do the burning, they should investigate so we don’t have pollutants wafting all over the air.”