One of the original proposals for Four Sparrows Shopping Center.

Community Board 18 will present new plans for the Four Sparrow Marsh area, a sliver of parkland in Mill Basin that may be turned over to commercial developers for a shopping center.

The meeting will take place tomorrow, January 18, at 8:00 p.m. in the Kings Plaza Community Room (enter near the garage on Flatbush Avenue; the community room is to your right).

It was about this time last year that we first wrote about the Four Sparrow Marsh, a nature preserve near Kings Plaza that the city was considering developing into a shopping mall. A key component of the plan includes a commercial building to go on the left side of the existing Toys “R” Us building, housing Kristal Auto Mall. That building will house the dealership, showroom and the service space, and there are also plans to expand an existing marina.

On the other side of Toys “R” Us is where the controversy emerged. Two options were being considered. The first was for two commercial structures that would house multiple commercial tenants. The second option was for one large commercial structure that would house one tenant. They’re also planning on-site parking for approximately 820 vehicles.

This proposal required eating up a portion of marshland. This is important, as Four Sparrows Marsh Preserve is the larger and older of the two remaining salt marshes on the north shore of the Jamaica Bay estuary system. It serves two critical roles besides nesting habitat. It is a rest stop for up to 326 species of migrating birds on the Atlantic Flyway, and filters pollution and excess nutrients from the Bay.

Those plans were eventually nixed under the shadow of corruption allegations against disgraced State Senator Carl Kruger.  The project was mentioned during conversations recorded by the FBI between Kruger and Forest City Ratner-connected developer Aaron Malinsky, who was trying to get state funds directed towards the project.

Community Board 18 is hoping to rekindle public interest in the project with a new plan that still includes the auto mall and marina expansion, but leaves a huge question mark over the fate of the marshland segment – a strip of land that was supposed to be handed over to the Parks Department, but apparently never was. An advocate promoting community involvement in the project wrote to Queens Crap:

There is an additional strip of land south of Toys R Us that is also included in the development. We need to see if this will intrude on the parkland of Four Sparrow Marsh.

We also need to insist that the remaining 60+ acres of land is OFFICIALLY turned over to the Parks Dept. Otherwise, there is a good possibility that sooner or later this site will be turned over to developers.

We lost the Vandalia Dunes to the Gateway Mall. Let’s make sure that Four Sparrow Marsh does not suffer the same fate.

UPDATE (1/18 at 1:50 p.m.): City Councilman Lew Fidler left a comment below that clarifies on the situation, and we’re bumping it up here to make it more visible:

To clarify, the current proposal no longer affects the marshland. The strip mall, which was to be on the marsh land has been removed. A tiny sliver of the marshland will be utilized as a perimeter, but it will only be used for the planting of tress along the perimeter. Additionally, there will be a 20 year use restriction on the Vornado piece that will keep it from being used as a big box store. It will have to essentially remain a toy store.

Please come to the Community Board meeting to hear the actual details and express your opinion. However, I wanted the presentation here to be accurate.

It should be noted that one of the claims that the advocate made regarding the project is that a portion of the parkland was never handed over to the Parks Department, despite the fact that Parks Department signage marks the area. If this is true, it’s an issue that still needs to be addressed whether or not the marshland is to be developed or not.

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  • Ewrt

    where is this going to be near toysrus?

    • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

      As the article explains, yes.

      If you look at the image up top, Toys R Us is the square building to the lower left of the center.

  • Anonymous

    Shopping wins over the marshland and enviornment.

  • Anonymous

    The signs that used to boast “Forever Wild” should have a PS attached beneath, stating “until we get an offer we can’t refuse”

  • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

    No. It should stay marshland. No Development.

    • Lew from Brooklyn

      To clarify, the current proposal no longer affects the marshland. The strip mall, which was to be on the marsh land has been removed. A tiny sliver of the marshland will be utilized as a perimeter, but it will only be used for the planting of tress along the perimeter. Additionally, there will be a 20 year use restriction on the Vornado piece that will keep it from being used as a big box store. It will have to essentially remain a toy store.
      Please come to the Community Board meeting to hear the actual details and express your opinion. However, I wanted the presentation here to be accurate.

      Lew from Brooklyn

      • http://www.njluxurymotors.com Arthur Borko

        Is any current wilderness going to be used? It’s going to be paving over the animal habitat for practically hundreds of species of animal.

        They could find money for this and not to expand the Belt Parkway to 4 or 5 lanes?

        Look, I’ll agree that whole entire lot needs to be re-imagined. From Nicks all the way to Toys R Us. Repaved, and reorganized. But I don’t think we should be paving over another single blade of grass in this city.

        • nolastname

          I like what you say Arthur but,….the only thing they can do for the Belt is elevate it.
          Corporate greed does not care about preserving anything.

      • Brightonresident

        Stay out of the environment– There is plenty of property at Ave. U and Flatbush sitting empty– build there!

      • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

        Thank you for clarifying.

        • http://www.frogma.blogspot.com/ Bonnie

          Ned, it’s for a parking lot. Councilman Fidler made this statement at the meeting, the developers had started out by saying that it was for a parking lot, and they tried to correct him when he said that they were planting trees there – he just didn’t hear them. 

        • http://www.frogma.blogspot.com/ Bonnie

          Agh, sorry, just realized that this post predated the meeting. I’d gone, and as I said, the councilman repeated this idea of his. The developers tried to correct him but it didn’t really seem like he acknowledged it – I thought this was new, he’d left the meeting still thinking they were planting trees. Sorry, I actually came by looking for the new plans & the councilman’s statement jumped out at me. 

          Has anyone got a picture of the new plans? It’s better than this one, but it would be far better if they didn’t turn any of the land that everyone thought was Forever Wild into a parking lot. Parking lot right on the edge of a marsh is just an awful idea. 

      • Anonymous

        Can a proper public space be made there? I’m talking about a nature walk, a few benches, bike path around the perimeter; that sort of thing.

        • Anonymous

          I’m familiar with the area well. My friends and I used to go back there years and years ago to jump on our bicycles. It is a nice little spot that should have better accessability and amenities for the public.  

      • nolastname

        Can you show a diagram of the “tiny sliver” please. Also while your attention is here can you do something about all the uncovered trash and recyclable containers? I pick up more of other households trash than I put out of my own.

      • http://www.frogma.blogspot.com/ Bonnie

        Sir, as the developers themselves actually tried to point out when you made a similar comment at the meeting, the strip from the land that is supposed to be Forever Wild parkland is to be used to replace the parking that Toys R Us would lose to to the new Kristol building. 

        Not only does this put 5% of the marsh under asphalt, but it then parks cars on it – and where does anyone think that the oil, gas, other automotive fluids that any of those parked cars happen to leak, road salt, etc, is going to go when it rains? 
        Not that that probably doesn’t already happen just from Flatbush Avenue – but putting a parking lot right there on the marsh seems like an almost guaranteed way to pollute a very beautiful place. 

  • Rpell1

    Unless properly planned, (and, we all know what kind of joke that is!), the impact of more traffic trying to access and depart from the area, via the Belt Parkway and Flatbush Avenue, will be devastating.  Based on the results of “planning” for other projects……..we don’t stand a chance.

  • Brooklyn6thave

    TRADER JOE’S!

  • ES

    Sheepshead Bites field trip to CB18 — just saying. It could be fun…

  • Chrisie

    I was so hapy to hear that this was originally squashed and not so happy to hear it may be in the works again.  Have any of the brain surgeon’s behind this insanity taken into consideration the traffic congestion that will occur.  It is bad enough now and what about the marshland?  Just more money grubbers not caring about the people who live in the area or the wildlife.

  • Guest

    Bloomberg doesn’t have enough money to satisfy himself yet I guess. Kings Plaza is right up the road and so is Toys R us. Please explain to us why we need another strip mall that will cause major traffic issues and destroy the environment. The only positive I can foresee is job creation. Even a tiny sliver of the marshland over there should not be harmed. Again, Kings Plaza is easily accessible as it is literally 5 blocks away. If people aren’t going to Kings Plaza because of it’s shady character or what not maybe instead of spending all this money on a new strip mall we should invest in getting the public back to Kings Plaza. That would be cheaper, create jobs and not destroy the environment.

  • Boss255

    What I find most puzzling is lack of discussion over the use of this land that was proposed at these very same meeting a couple of years back.  If my memory serves me correctly, meetings were held in which it was noted that Home Depot would move to the site just South of Toys R Us when the construction of Lowe’s was completed.  This would have allowed the old Home Depot site to be re-developed for other uses. Mysteriously as Lowe’s crept toward completion, talk of the Home Depot move simply vanished from everyone’s conciousness.  I can only suspect that the bad economy played a part in the plans disappearance, but it is strange how it there is no mention of it as if the plan was never proposed in the first place.  Call me curious.

    • nolastname

      I’m kinda sure it has been mentioned on this site.

  • Vidoc

    Check out this link ..NYC released its Wetlands Protection Draft proposal last Wednesday January 18th.. It states no more shoreline developement…If any of you folks are good writers, submit comments by Feb 18th  See the link at the bottom of the post of below’s link

    http://awalkintheparknyc.blogspot.com/2012/01/city-releases-wetlands-strategy-draft.html