Tag Archives: NPS

Statue of Liberty, closed since Sandy, to reopen by July 4


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NPS

One of America’s most iconic symbols of freedom, the Statue of Liberty will be open in time to celebrate the country’s birthday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced today.

The monument has been closed since Sandy.

“[The storm] inflicted major damage on facilities that support the Statue of Liberty – destroying the docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system – but we are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it’s safe for visitors and not a second later,” said Salazar . “Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration.”

The Statue of Liberty is an important part of the city’s economy during the holiday and the rest of the year. According to Salazar, a report released last month by the National Park Service found that 3.7 million people visited Statue of Liberty national park in 2011, bringing in $174 million in economic activity and supporting 2,218 jobs.

“Lady Liberty was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, but just like New York, she will be back – and stronger than ever, said Schumer. “Being open for the summer tourism season isn’t just important symbolically, it’s a boon to the city’s economy and businesses, as the statue attracts millions of tourists from all over the world to our shores.”

Work to remove the damaged Liberty Island Shuttle Dock. (Photo by Kevin Daley, NPS Photographer)

 

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New photo exhibit shows before and after effects of Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NPS

Homes and businesses were not the only places that Sandy destroyed.

Gateway National Recreation Area, which encompasses parts of Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Monmouth County, New Jersey, is also still recovering from the storm and has yet to fully reopen.

The effects that Sandy had on the area can now be seen in a new exhibit, “Hurricane Sandy: Before and After,” at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

“These [photos] are snapshots in time. It’s the chance to see a historic event,” said Charles Markis, a park ranger and the exhibit’s curator.

As part of the storm recovery effort, the National Park Service (NPS) Incident Management Team went around the area taking photos to assess the storm damage. The team, one of the largest assembled in NPS history, even had access to aircraft for aerial pictures.

After looking through those photographs, and receiving inquiries from the public on what had happened to Gateway after the storm, Markis saw them as more than a remediation tool.

Using those photos, as well as shots from the NPS already had of the area’s condition before Sandy, both from on the ground and satellite imagery, he put together the “Before and After” exhibit.

He describes the 30 photos, some of which are side-by-side comparisons, as sad, yet interesting and beautiful, and has received a similar response from those who have seen it.

“My point was not to celebrate the disaster but to tell the story of what happened,” said Markis.

The photos show scenes of structural destruction at Jacob Riis Park, boats thrown onto land away from Great Kills Harbor and parking lots buried in sand.

The pictures also illustrate resilience through recovery progress maps, and that’s the ultimate message that visitors should take away from the exhibit.

“While these pictures demonstrate damage, the take-away message should not be one of doom and gloom, but rather one of resilience,” said Gateway superintendent Linda Canzanelli. “There is still a lot of work to do and some things have changed forever. But the park is reopening, the natural areas will rebound and park visitors will be welcomed back.”

 

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Pols push for improvements to Charles Park


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Piles of trash in tall grass are just yards away from baseball fields where the pitcher’s mounds have nearly leveled with home plate. Behind home plate, there are cracks in the sidewalks that are overgrown with grass and weeds. Not much further from this scene is a picnic table, worn from years of use.

These are just some of the images of Frank M. Charles Memorial Park in Howard Beach, which officials and residents say has been neglected for years by the National Park Service (NPS).

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder and Senator Charles Schumer recently sent a letter to NPS with concerns about upkeep of the park that residents claim has been inconsistent and underfunded for years.

“Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, a treasured resource for the residents of Howard Beach, has long been a popular location for youth sports games and family outings. But the park has seen better days,” Schumer said. “The level of deterioration at the park is unacceptable, and that’s why I’m urging the National Park Service to step up to the plate and clean it up so local residents get the park they deserve.”

Goldfeder said he and Schumer decided to urge for better maintenance now as summer heats up and pollution in the park has increased.

“I think it was time we sort of formalize our request that we’re serious about it and we’re not going to stop until we see some improvement,” Goldfeder said.

The assemblymember said NPS typically focuses its spending on West Coast parks and will sometimes forget about eastern areas.

He added that “Howard Beach is a beautiful community and we deserve a beautiful park.”

In the past, Goldfeder said he’s led cleanup efforts throughout the greenspace, but it needs consistent maintenance and not quick fixes.

Dorothy McCluskey, who heads the Friends of Charles Park group, has worked for nearly two decades to ensure the park is clean.

The Parks Service, she said, had not been allocating funds to, or regularly caring for, what she calls “the jewel of Jamaica Bay.” She cited poorly repaired tennis courts and baseball fields as some of the problems reported to the NPS.

John Warren, an NPS spokesperson for the area, said the agency was working the city to improve all parks near Jamaica Bay. Warren said plans with the city were “still in the early stages, but it’s going to help us pool our resources together…to provide better services to people at all of our parks in the Jamaica Bay area.”

Garbage, he said, is a problem endemic to all greenspaces, and NPS is continuing to clean the park.

“Trash is an issue at any park,” he said, “and it’s something we’re working on further improving.”