Tag Archives: national parks service

Queens Museum displays items collected from Jamaica Bay clean-up


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Rohan Narine

Many who practice Hinduism in Queens go to Jamaica Bay to make offerings to their gods, floating fruit and flowers and even statues of the deities into the bay.

But the items offered are sometimes left behind, not only littering the water but also causing distress among those worshipers who practice eco-friendly offering techniques.

“We don’t want our practices to make Jamaica Bay look like the Ganges in 20 years,” said Rohan Narine, a board member at Sadhana, an eco-friendly Hindu group. “We want the community to see that we are also environmentally conscious.”

Sadhana hosts a monthly clean-up effort around Jamaica Bay in which volunteers gather the offerings that have been left behind by other worshipers. To show the public that clean-up efforts are made, some of the items collected are now on display at the Queens Museum, located in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, as part of a new exhibition named “Sacred Waters,” which started on Sept. 4.

The group pitched the idea of this exhibition to the museum in hopes of both giving non-Hindus a better understanding of the religion and making it known that devotees are not people who have no respect for the environment.

“We had about 100 people come out [to our opening ceremony on Sept. 14]. The reception was very promising,” Narine said. “We are a nature-worshiping religion and want people to understand that.”

Diorama at Queens Museum (1)

Educating Hindus of the safest environmental practices that should be taken when worshiping is also a main focus of Sadhana.

“There is a delicate balance between tradition and the environment, and both must be equally respected,” said Aminta Kilawan, a board member at Sadhana.

Along with the exhibition, which displays a “diorama” of the offerings collected, Narine is working with the National Parks Service (NPS) on a pamphlet to be displayed around the bay, the purpose of which is two-fold: to teach people the basics of the Hindu religion and to list NPS rules for clean-up.

“We want to get back to the balance that [our Hindu ancestors] once had,” Narine said.

Narine hopes for the pamphlet to be around the bay by November, and the exhibit will be displayed at the museum until Sept. 24.

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Rotting fruit washes up in Charles Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

 SALVATORE LICATA

The shoreline of Jamaica Bay, bordering Charles Park, is home to shellfish, seagulls, seaweed, submerged shopping carts, abandoned baby strollers and now, rotting fruit.

A cluster of putrefying fruit was found in the water on Thursday on the northwest portion of Charles Park, where clean-up has been a long-standing issue.

“We need to protect and clean up the shore line,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “We appreciate the advocacy for the clean-up of Charles Park and do not want to see this great volunteerism go to the wayside.”

The fruit mound washed over from the Broad Channel part of the bay where Hindu worshipers sacrifice items in the water to the goddess Ganges of their religion.

It is unclear how such a large amount of fruit was able to pile up in one specific area about a half mile away from where it was sacrificed leaving the devotees puzzled.

“We honestly had no idea the items we sacrificed washed up there,” said Amar Hardeosingh, who takes part in the Hindu religious ceremony at the bay. “We try to do good for the environment and we want to keep it as beautiful as it is.”

The religious group has been taken to task before for not cleaning up after they finished their rituals, according to a 2011 article in the New York Times, but lately have been keeping up with the guidelines of the National Parks Service (NPS), which owns the land.

To practice their rituals, the religious group must get a permit from the NPS, which is a long process, according to Hardeosingh. But they have continually received the permit because of their avid clean-up once the ceremonies are over, he said.

“We sacrifice the fruit hoping that the fish will eat it but if it is piling up elsewhere it is not going toward the right cause,” said Hardeosingh, who operates a Hindu radio station and promised to announce this problem over the air waves to gather a clean-up group. “If they are rotting away in this area, it’s [the same as using] non-perishable items, which means we should clean it up.”

Unlike non-perishable items, which litter the waters of Jamaica Bay and its surrounding shorelines, this fruit usually never makes its way to the shoreline. Throwing the fruit in Jamaica Bay is technically illegal but is less detrimental to the ecosystem than the usual non-perishable garbage items and wastewater from four sewage nearby plants that end up in the bay, said Veronica Scorcia, a marine biologist.

“The whole pieces of fruit take time to break down, which makes their particulate matter insignificant compared to the sewage runoff,” Scorcia said.

The NPS is responsible for the upkeep of the park and its shoreline and Addabbo said he is getting in touch with the NPS to make sure they are notified about the fruit pile-up.

He added that NPS has made an effort to clean up the park and that residents must keep being the service’s eyes and ears to notify the NPS about any problems going on in the park.

The Charles Park Conservation Society, which has played a major role in the clean-up effort of the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NPS did not immediately return a call for comment.

 

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Six months after Sandy, Charles Park gets clean-up


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File phoot

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is getting spruced up.

With Sandy debris lingering nearly six months after the storm, Councilmember Eric Ulrich has partnered with the Doe Fund to help clean up the community park, which is run under the auspices of by Gateway National Recreation Area.

Nine “men in blue” from the Doe Fund, which finds work for homeless men and women, will help remove debris in what is considered a neighborhood park, although it’s under the National Park Service (NPS) umbrella.

Ulrich said he reached out to George McDonald, president and founder of the Doe Fund, after coverage of the park’s worsened condition following the storm.

“This was a reaction to the published newspaper reports about the terrible conditions in Charles Park,” Ulrich said.

The councilmember said further pressure had to be put on NPS to secure that Charles Park and other parts of Gateway get the same attention that parks across the country do.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Ulrich said of the delayed clean up, adding it should not have taken a storm like Sandy to bring the park’s conditions to the public eye. “The federal government has to live up to their obligation.”

McDonald, who partnered with Ulrich to bring workers to Broad Channel after the storm, said the program won’t only clean up the park, but give the crew a second chance.

“For the past 25 years, New Yorkers have been so generous to The Doe Fund and to the ‘men in blue’—helping their fellow New Yorkers to re-establish their careers and become fathers to their children,” McDonald said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give back. I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

Community Board 10 recently voiced opposition to a proposal from Gateway and NYC Parks Department that listed Charles Park as a possible site for concession stands, bike terminals or kayak launching bays. Board members first want the park to be cleaned up, and get more outreach from Gateway, before anything else comes in.

“It’s my understanding that Doe fund is volunteering labor to do it, which is certainly commendable,” said board chair Elizabeth Braton. “However, it does not remove the obligation of the Parks Service to provide continuous, ongoing maintenance at the facilities they are responsible for.”

 

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Howard Beach residents say Charles Park needs repairs


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Some Howard Beach residents want to make sure a local park is cleaned up before future development comes in.

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, part of Gateway National Recreation Area and heavily damaged by Sandy, was listed as a site for potential concession stands, kayak launch bays or bike terminals in a request for proposal from NYC Parks Department and National Parks Service (NPS).

But Charles Park has been traditionally underfunded despite many facelift and cleanup efforts. It has experienced problems with athletic fields including broken fences and toppled mounds at its baseball fields that are used by locals.

Community Board 10 Chair Elizabeth Braton said while the board would be open to rebuilding Jamaica Bay, many members think replenishing the park should be NPS’ first priority before other attractions come in.

“The people in the community would be far more interested in seeing New York City Parks Department do some work on the ball parks there,” she said, “Or to work collaboratively with the federal parks people to get some real improvements there.”

Representatives from the Parks Department are scheduled to address Community Board 10 on Thursday, April 4, Braton said.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo said Charles Park has been underfunded because it competes with other parks nationwide, including Yosemite National Park and the Statue of Liberty.

If Charles Park is selected for one item in the project, Addabbo said he wants to see some federal money go into repairing the park. “We need to use some of the federal dollars to rebuild Charles Park,” he said.

Suzanne McCarthy, the deputy superintendent at Gateway, said in a statement that the proposals would help secure more funding, and the agency has future plans for the waterfront park.

“We see our request for proposal (RFP) with city parks as another opportunity for this community, not an obstacle to our continued clean up,” she said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Hollis residents urge city to install sewers on flood-prone block 

Every time the weather forecast predicts rain, residents of several Hollis blocks leave work or cut their vacations short to secure their homes against floods. Homeowners on the corner of 90th Ave. and 183rd St. have lobbied the city for decades to install sewers that will alleviate the flooding that overwhelms their streets and basements with anywhere from several inches to several feet of water and raw sewage. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

South Ozone Park residents angry about being left in the dark about new bus route 

The old adage says that if you miss a bus, there’s always the next one — unless you live in South Ozone Park. Local residents say they were caught off guard by a recent route change of the Q41 bus that kicked in without giving local residents a proper heads up. And it’s not just confused riders who are complaining. Residents who live along the new route said they now have to deal with issues of parking, traffic and garbage strewn on the streets. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Councilman Van Bramer allots $31K for Woodside clean-up 

For the past several years the people of Woodside noticed trash piling up along the area’s major streets. “They haven’t cleaned it in weeks. All the garbage is spilled all over the place. There’s bottles, food, everything,” said resident Tina McDonnell. It got so bad she would be out every day sweeping the sidewalks in the early morning hours. One business owner adopted an extra trash can for the corner outside of his pizzeria. Read more: [NY1] 

Bank bandit goes ‘postal’ 

What’s in his wallet? About $3,000 in swiped bank dough. A brazen bandit, posing as a postal worker, knocked off two Capital One banks within 10 minutes in Queens yesterday, authorities said. Read more: [New York Post] 

NY geese gathered for gassing 

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge yesterday was the worst place to be a Canada goose. Federal officials rounded up about 700 of the birds from the area to be euthanized in hopes of cutting down on the strikes with passenger jets that have forced emergency landings from JFK and La Guardia Airports. The action also ended a two-year dispute between the US Department of Agriculture and the National Parks Service over removing the birds. Read more: [New York Post]