Archive for the tag 'environmental concerns'

Source: Williams

The controversial natural gas pipeline, proposed to run underneath the Rockaways, through Jamaica Bay, and into Floyd Bennett Field National Park, has been plodding along the approval process for several months, with the latest news being the issuance of an apparently favorable draft statement by the federal government.

(Read our ongoing coverage of the Jamaica Bay pipeline.)

The Rockaway Wave reported last week on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project, an offshoot of Williams’ Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco):

In its draft EIS, [the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC)] gave a favorable report for Transco and came to a conclusion that the environmental impact wouldn’t be so bad. The “construction and operation of the Projects would result in limited adverse environmental impacts that would mostly occur during construction,” the EIS said. Overall it says that the limited adverse impacts “would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Transco’s proposed mitigation and the additional measures recommended in the draft EIS.”

Critics, though, remain unswayed, saying that the agency has been too lenient in its review of the research, which was provided by Williams, and say more information should be required:

While Williams is pleased with the report, environmentalists are not satisfied. Dan Mundy, president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers says the “report downplays the significance of the environmental impacts.” Mundy explained concerns over the fact that Transco hasn’t stated exactly what fluids will be involved with the project, which is significant as they will likely wind up in the water and may affect marine life. He also says that the company hasn’t released a modeling report which would show where sediments would go when the company trenches the ocean to install the pipeline. Mundy explains that sediment could impact an important artificial reef off the coast of Rockaway. Transco has been asked to release the sediment report for several months.

“The EIS report, as it’s done right now, is downplaying that significant impact and we’re concerned by that,” Mundy said. “It doesn’t include critical data.” He went on to say that the project should be put on hold. If it does go through and causes the mentioned environmental impacts, Mundy hopes the company considers restoring the areas that are impacted.

FERC didn’t give it all a free pass, though. The agency is recommending additional mitigation measures to reduce impacts on wildlife, habitat, and the historic character of the Floyd Bennett Field hangars that will be used in the project. The agency is proposing the requirement of 27 site-specific mitigation measures if the project goes forward.

The draft report can be found on the FERC website.

The agency is holding two public hearings to hear concerns about the project. The first will be held Tuesday, October 22, at 7:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Rockaway Council 267 (333 Beach 90th Street, Rockaway Beach). The second will be held Wednesday, October 23, at 7:00 p.m. at Aviator Sports & Events Center in Floyd Bennett Field (3159 Flatbush Avenue).

Additionally, comments can be made electronically through the eComment or eFiling features of the website under “Documents and Filings.” When writing a comment, refer to docket number CP13-36-000 for the Rockaway Project. Written comments can also be sent to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

Four Sparrow Marsh, Flatbush Avenue near the Belt Parkway (Photo by Adrian Kinloch via Slate).

Four Sparrow Marsh, Flatbush Avenue near the Belt Parkway. (Photo by Adrian Kinloch via Slate)

English photographer Adrian Kinloch submitted a gorgeous photo essay detailing the strange fringe between the end of the city and the edge of nature, which is, apparently, a place called Southern Brooklyn. Kinloch’s dazzling photo essay, submitted to Slate, covers the areas near the Belt Parkway, Coney Island Creek, Mill Basin and Marine Park Beach and includes an interesting rumination on local history, environmental concerns and the unique way nature reabsorbs man-made objects.

One passage I found particularly interesting was Kinloch’s exploration of Coney Island Creek, where he touched on its history and the challenges the city faces in trying to clean it up:

For the barges of Coney Island Creek, it was containerized shipping, not the railways, that spelled the end of their working life. In the 1960s, their owners scuttled or burned the vessels, and they have been there ever since. Industry on the creek dates back as far as the 1660s, when Dirck De Wolfe opened his saltworks. The saltworks were burned to the ground, too, by furious locals after De Wolfe refused to let them pasture their cows nearby.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to clean up Coney Island Creek and its environs, restoring them to their original pristine state. But when I ran into some guys from the Army Corps of Engineers, they said this task is nearly impossible—if you move any of those rotting barges, all the diesel and toxic chemicals encased in the silt will escape up to the surface.

Interesting, yet depressing, stuff. To see all the images and read the entirety of Kinloch’s observations, click here.

Chair and miscellaneous objects, Marine Park Salt Marsh. (Photo by Adiran Kinloch via Slate)

Chair and miscellaneous objects, Marine Park Salt Marsh. (Photo by Adiran Kinloch via Slate)

Source: 10000birds.com

Source: 10000birds.com

The federal government is pumping millions of dollars into the restoration of Jamaica Bay following the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy. But some local residents who live nearby are growing angry that their needs are being ignored. A report by Reuters is noting that local residents, fed up with updated post-storm building codes and the attached fees, have grown resentful of all the dollars pouring into the nature reserve.

Federal and city financial activity at Jamaica Bay is soaring in recent months. In August, we reported that the Department of the Interior and the National Parks Service is spearheading an effort to make parks located near urban environments, like Jamaica Bay, into major hotspots for outdoors activity. The hope of the effort is to put places like Jamaica Bay on par with national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. We also reported on the formation of an ambitious new multi-million dollar research project that will center around the natural storm defense barriers of Jamaica Bay, which include tidal wetlands, salt marshes and dunes. The goal of this project is to replicate these natural barriers in other areas.

According to the Reuters report, all of this activity is brewing anger in the surrounding Jamaica Bay community:

As restoration projects at Jamaica Bay get underway, using volunteer help and outside funding, they are stirring feelings of resentment among some local residents.

They say they have more pressing concerns than restoring the bay and protecting against future storm surges. Private homes and commercial buildings in the area remain damaged. Some residents are struggling to meet new Federal Emergency Management Agency building codes, access money for repairs and even determine if their home is up to code. Private inspections “can cost $500-600 or more for a single family dwelling,” [Hilarie] Williams said.

For community members, the convoluted process to access funds feeds confusion and resentment about the bay restoration project. While most community members are looking for compensation for their losses, they see money going instead to the restoration of the bay.

Still, many Jamaica Bay residents know that living by the water brings risks, including Don Riepe, the Northeast Chapter Director of the American Littoral Society and Broad Channel resident:

“I was always aware that [a storm like Sandy had the ] potential of happening,” he said. “It wasn’t a great surprise to me.” In four or five previous storms he lost heat or power “but nothing like Sandy. I lost the heat, the electricity, all the furniture” this time, he said.

Riepe sees his neighbors responding in a variety of ways – jacking up small houses in some cases, rebuilding and hoping for the rest or simply leaving for good.

But the story of Broad Channel and other communities in the area should be a wakeup call to other vulnerable coastal regions, he says.

“We’ve built in areas we shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have a house on the bay, or if I do I should be prepared to lose it,” Riepe says.”You’re living on the bay, you take the risks.”

plastic bag Urban Woodswalker via flickr

Source: Urban Woodswalker via flickr

There might be reason for the City Council to pause on their plans to limit the use of plastic bags, and it concerns health and safety. As we wrote in our article on the City Council’s effort to charge a 10-cent fee to anyone given a disposable plastic bag at checkout, other cities like Washington D.C. and San Francisco have already had plastic bag fees from which to learn a thing or two. The Huffington Post linked to series of articles that say that claims that reusable bags are hot spots for the growth of bacteria and disease.

Citing a report by Bloomberg, the Huff Post highlighted a disturbing consequence of people attempting to do the environmentally responsible thing by using reusable bags:

[T]he [plastic bag] industry has highlighted news reports linking reusable shopping bags to the spread of disease. Like this one, from the Los Angeles Times last May: “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October, Oregon researchers reported Wednesday.” The norovirus may not have political clout, but evidently it, too, is rooting against plastic bags.

Warning of disease may seem like an over-the-top scare tactic, but research suggests there’s more than anecdote behind this industry talking point. In a 2011 study, four researchers examined reusable bags in California and Arizona and found that 51 percent of them contained coliform bacteria. The problem appears to be the habits of the reusers. Seventy-five percent said they keep meat and vegetables in the same bag. When bags were stored in hot car trunks for two hours, the bacteria grew tenfold.

The solution to this problem is obvious: wash your reusable bag. But, according to the study, 97 percent of reusable bag users never wash their bags.

Still, in places where people were charged for plastic bags, the numbers also showed a dramatic result that helped remove tons of slow-to-degrade plastic from landfills. A New York Times report on the issue cited the effect of a plastic bag tax in Ireland:

Solid academic research is surprisingly hard to find. One widely cited study from 2007, however, found that imposition of a bag tax of €0.15, or $0.20, in 2002 had a drastic effect in Ireland. The study, published in the journal Environmental and Resource Economics, cited a reduction of about 94 percent in the use of plastic bags.

When polled, Dubliners weren’t even overly annoyed at the plastic bag ban and transitioned to a plastic-free world easily. Surprisingly, the same went for Texas, a place notorious for values that run opposite to environmentalist concerns:

In Texas, a state that takes pride in its large pickup trucks and oil drilling, three communities have established bag bans in some form in the past year.

One is South Padre Island, a beach community with heavy tourist traffic, which began enforcing a bag-reduction policy in January.

Near South Padre, another bag-ban policy is in place in the border city of Brownsville, one of the poorest large cities in Texas.

A third community that has enacted a bag ban, Fort Stockton, is in an oil and ranching area in remote West Texas. Plastic bags, blown by the wind, had been getting stuck on barbed wire, cactuses and mesquite trees, according to Darren Hodges, a City Council member who pushed for the ban.

Since the ban took effect last autumn, Mr. Hodges said, residents have been gradually growing accustomed to taking reusable bags into shops. And the litter problems seem to be improving, he said, with fewer plastic bags on the fences and cactuses.

Despite the general acceptance of people exposed to the new laws, significant problems resulting from the ban have actually led to the deaths of people in San Francisco.

A study of San Francisco’s bag ban put out last year by two law professors — Jonathan Klick from the University of Pennsylvania and Joshua D. Wright from George Mason University — made the grim finding that people are actually dying because of the bag ban. “The San Francisco ban led to between 5.4 and 15.8 additional deaths,” the professors wrote, concluding that “the current trend toward bag bans may be imprudent” on economic grounds.

Fox News put the results more succinctly: “San Francisco’s Plastic Bag Ban Kills About 5 People a Year.”

Yikes. When I originally heard the news about the proposed plastic bag fees, I thought it was an all-around good idea. My cupboard is filled with plastic bags that I feel too guilty about throwing away and I always feel a twinge of guilt when I stand in ‘zombie mode’ at a checkout line and a clerk quickly hands me a plastic bag for a candy bar. The 10-cent fee on my laziness will probably motivate me to tote around a reusable bag because I’ll be damned if I pay an extra 10 cents for a 99-cent Twix bar.

Let’s just hope nobody, especially me, accidentally kills themselves in trying to protect the environment.

Source: katerha via flickr

Source: katerha via flickr

The City Council is planning to introduce legislation that would charge consumers 10 cents at grocery and retail stores for plastic bags if they don’t bring their own reusable bags to checkout lines. Politicker is reporting that the proposed legislation, which is aimed at reducing waste, will come to a vote on Thursday (Corrected: See below)

If customers don’t bring their own bags to stores, they will be hit with a dime surcharge that the stores will get to keep. Politicker noted that proponents of the bill have big numbers to back their insistence on the measure as well as the difference between this bill and a similar tax proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that went unsupported by the Council:

According to the bill’s proponents, New Yorkers use approximately 5.2 billion plastic bags per year–the vast majority of which are not recycled. The city also spends an estimated $10 million a year to transport those 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills each year, they said.

Mayor Bloomberg had previously proposed a similar piece of legislation that would have imposed a 6 cent tax on retailers distributing plastic bags–a policy proposal that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn did not support. But Mr. [Brad] Lander made a clear distinction today between the two pieces of legislation.

“What the mayor was actually proposing was a tax,” he said. “There are some legal questions there about whether the city actually has the power to do that or whether that takes action in Albany.”

The new proposed piece of legislation would not require this oversight from the State Legislature, but would provide the same environmentally-positive impact, Mr. Lander explained.

Part of the legislation would also include fines for stores that don’t follow the new rules, and will provide distribution of the reusable bags to lower income neighborhoods:

The bill also specifies that grocery and retail stores will be precluded from charging the fee until people are given the chance to take advantage of the citywide bag giveaways.

“We’re going to target the giveaway in lower-income neighborhoods. I think we’d actually like to do a meaningful amount of that through the grocery stores,” Mr. Lander explained.

Restaurants would be exempt from the rule and stores that break the rules twice would be slapped with $250 fines.

The charging for bags practice is already in place right here in Southern Brooklyn at the new Aldi Foodmarket (3785 Nostrand Avenue). Politicker also pointed out that similar legislation is present in other cities, including San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is a real lobbying group that represents bag manufacturers, unsurprisingly came out against the proposed legislation:

“New York City residents already pay among the highest taxes in the nation. A 10-cent per bag tax would be a detriment to hardworking families and businesses trying to make ends meet,” said the group’s chair, Mark Daniels. “The proponents of this bill are misinformed and largely rely on science that has been hijacked by environmental activists. A grocery bag tax pushes shoppers toward less sustainable options, like reusable bags, which cannot be recycled, are made from foreign oil and imported at a rate of 500 million annually.”

“If lawmakers are interested in protecting the environment, they should consider the facts and concentrate on meaningful legislation to boost proper reuse and disposal of grocery bags,” he said.

The question remains if the City Council bends to the will of America’s powerful bagging interests.

CORRECTION (8/22/13 10:42 a.m.): The previous version of this article suggested that there would be a vote today. The legislation is solely being introduced today and will have a hearing at a later date, possibly followed by a vote.

Source: 10000birds.com

Source: 10000birds.com

Federal and city officials announced the formation of an ambitious new research group that will focus its studies on the area in and around Jamaica Bay. According to a press release, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the forming of the Jamaica Bay Science and Resilience Institute (JBSRI), a project led by the City the University of New York (CUNY).

The JBSRI’s main focus centers around the natural storm defense barriers of Jamaica Bay, which include tidal wetlands, salt marshes and dunes. The hope is that a more extensive study of these barriers will allow officials and scientists to replicate them in other areas. The home base for the JBSRI will initially be located at Brooklyn College until a $3 million center is built by Jamaica Bay.

Bloomberg hoped that the new research project would also lead to an overall strengthening of Jamaica Bay itself.

“Jamaica Bay is one of the greatest natural treasures any city has within its borders, and our Administration is working hard to make the bay an even greater, stronger, and more resilient natural resource for decades to come. The new consortium we’re announcing today is an all-star team of research institutions and non-profits who will do important work to protect and preserve urban ecosystems from development and from the effects of climate change,” Bloomberg said in the release.

In agreeing with mayor, Jewell stressed that the research done at Jamaica Bay would serve as a model for fighting global warming and climate change.

“And now, in CUNY and their academic partners, we have a consortium of world-class institutions to advance our understanding of climate change and its impact on our natural systems. Working together, we will develop and coordinate approaches to coastal resiliency for Jamaica Bay that can serve as a model for communities around the world threatened by climate change,” Jewell said.

Interim CUNY Chancellor William Kelly promised groundbreaking science in this latest effort.

“Together with our distinguished partners, we will engage in a groundbreaking effort to revitalize the Jamaica Bay ecosystem. This will include extensive research to enhance our understanding of the ecosystem and its resilience, and the coordination and implementation of a comprehensive revitalization and restoration program for Jamaica Bay and the entire watershed,” Kelly said.

The news comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by the Obama administration which looked to establish Jamaica Bay as a hotspot for hiking, biking, boating and camping. The goal of that plan is to put places like Jamaica Bay on par with the nation’s most popular national parks, in an effort to expand the accessibility and popularity of national parks located near big cities.

Censored dead dolphin photo because we don't want to keep horrifying you

Censored dead dolphin photo, because we don’t want to keep horrifying you.

Dead dolphins have been washing up on the shores of Coney Island in unusually high numbers this year and scientists have officially begun to raise the alarm. According to a report in the Huffington Post, the rate of dead dolphins appearing on beaches along the East Coast is seven times higher than normal.

When we first reported on a dead baby dolphin washing up on Coney Island in February, we were sad. When dead dolphins washed up in April and July, we began to wonder if it was more than a coincidence. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service, 120 dolphins have turned up dead on the shores along the East Coast – 28 have washed up in the past month alone – in what federal scientists have described as an “unusual mortality event.”

While a cause has yet to be determined, the HuffPo article described a number of possible factors that might be killing the dolphins:

A number of things can cause dolphins to strand, including harmful algal blooms, infectious viruses, injuries due to ship strikes, pollutants and human-made runoff, NOAA said.

Although the cause has not been determined, early tissue analysis showed that one suspect could be morbillivirus, an infectious pathogen, said Teri Rowles, national marine mammal stranding coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.

Marine stranding response centers are collecting information on the deaths and necropsies are being performed, but it could take several weeks to determine what led to the deaths, the NOAA said.

The report also cited that the last time dolphins were dying in such large numbers was in 1987, when more than 700 dolphins were stricken with the morbillivirus, leaving corpses across the East Coast.

Researchers have warned the public not to approach any dead dolphins as they could harbor an infectious disease. Same goes for any mariners who spot a lone dolphin who has strayed from its pod.

gateway cleanup thesca org via dailynews

Teens from the Student Conservation Association. (Source: thesca.org via nydailynews.com)

Teenagers, banded together in the Student Conservation Association (SCA), picked up shovels and handcarts and began cleaning up Jamaica Bay and other parts of the Gateway National Recreational Area. The New York Daily News is reporting that the volunteer teens have been spending their precious summer vacation days making a difference for the environment with some hard work.

The SCA, founded in 1957, is a nonprofit group that culls teenagers looking to join conservation efforts across the country. The latest effort had teens work in an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy as part of the Sandy Project.

The Daily News described the length and nature of the project, as well as the reaction of the teens involved thus far:

The Sandy Project started July 8 and will end Aug. 15. The 50 students have been working 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and wrapping up each week with environmental lessons on Friday.

“We encourage them to see more of the parks and beautiful places around the city,” said [Diane] Stanley. “They have been to several talks about conservation and sustainability, and we also sent them to the Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Aquarium and Botanical Garden.”

Students have also been working on clean-up crews at Sandy Hook, N.J., and Staten Island.

“There was no lack of interest from the students,” Stanley said. “In fact, we had to turn some people down. To be able to get pay to do positive work after a hurricane from which many of them suffered the consequences, was something really special.”

Their work has already helped Rocky Point Marsh, Jacob Riis and Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach, among other areas in Jamaica Bay and other damaged areas in the city.

Great job to all the teenagers involved and keep up the good work.

Image via rebuildajustny.org

Image via rebuildajustny.org

A coalition of labor unions, community groups, environmental groups and faith-based organizations have banded together to form the Alliance For A Just Rebuilding (AJR). The goal of the AJR is to make sure the federal dollars sent to New York City via the Sandy aid package are distributed equitably with an emphasis on creating jobs for struggling communities, low-income residents and minorities.

In a brief entitled “Turning the Tide: How Our Next Mayor Should Tackle Sandy Rebuilding” the AJR lists 41 organizations and groups that support their platform, including the Coalition for the Homeless, Occupy Sandy, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Pratt Center for Community Development, just to name a few. Citing the $51 billion expected to flow into the city via Community Development Block-Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds and other investments and donations, the AJR believes that the next mayor, whoever that may be, has an unprecedented responsibility to make sure that the funds are properly spent.

The AJR outlines four major objectives for the next mayor and the first one starts with a call for a strong local jobs program. Highlights of their jobs program proposal include making sure that every Sandy-related construction or recovery job pays an equitable living wage, especially in cases of smaller construction projects, where abuse is widespread. They also want to make sure that all city agencies make public every Sandy-related contract, listing the status updates,  jobs promised and created, the wages for said jobs and a public comment process for all projects over $1 million in public funds. They also want to make sure that lower-income, Sandy devastated communities have the top priority in infrastructure repair and expanded transportation options.

The second major objective in the AJR brief calls for the future mayor to restore lost affordable housing while creating new affordable housing for displaced storm victims. Calling for a comprehensive assessment of unmet housing needs, the AJR wants more federal dollars to match the true level of destroyed housing units. They also want to make sure that any restored housing remains affordable:

The City can and should require landlords who use public dollars to rebuild their homes to maintain affordability at pre-storm levels – in contrast to the price gouging that now plagues Sandy-affected neighborhoods. Publicly-funded recovery must not be used to price out Sandy victims from their communities. In dialogue with advocates, City officials have indicated that they share these goals; the next mayor must support them with strong policy and collaborative problem-solving with community groups.

The third priority listed calls for the mayor to invest and in a clean and sustainable energy infrastructure. Citing the $3 billion the state controls in energy investment, plus the $300 million set aside in CDBG-DR funds, the AJR is demanding that the next mayor focus the spending of this money on low-income and storm-vulnerable locations for the purpose of creating a clean energy infrastructure. Here are three major bullet points presented by the AJR.

Fix NYCHA’s flooded energy systems with greener, cheaper, more resilient power.

Implement a post-Sandy recovery plan to upgrade NYCHA buildings to Combined Heat & Power (cogeneration) – which can cut energy costs by 30-50% – and work with HUD to redirect savings to fund NYCHA repairs.

Use CDBG and other state funds to support green, low-cost, non-profit power generation with community ownership in storm-affected neighborhoods.

New York City housing developments like Penn South and Co-op City have long shown that community-owned cogeneration works to power housing, schools, and businesses while lowering costs – now it’s time to add public support to help communities move toward cogeneration.

Champion racial and economic fairness in state-level energy policy.

Advocate for legislation to reform the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) so that it serves communities, not utilities.

1. Require the PSC to account for equitable economic impacts in allocating billions in energy infrastructure dollars, including jobs, training and uneven energy cost burdens on low- and moderate-income communities; and meet state contracting standards for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) while supporting contractors to meet good job standards.

2. Create a “climate justice fund” for investment in low-income communities vulnerable to climate events.

The last policy point put forward by the AJR consists of calling for the next mayor to more directly engage communities in future planning of Sandy related recovery programs. Citing that community-based organizations played a critical role following the devastation of the storm, the AJR is asking that the mayor build stronger relationships with community groups and figure out better ways to coordinate with them, so that the needs of neighborhoods are heard and weaknesses in their overall disaster preparedness plans can be better identified. Some of their ideas to better engage communities is to direct Sandy funds to community-based planning and recovery work, and to steer the practice of holding community “idea competitions” towards “idea cooperation.” They also want to bring community groups and volunteers to a more central and critical role to help in recovery, planning and preparedness projects.

Regardless if you disagree with the details presented by the AJR or even their overall message, they raise the undeniable fact that the next mayor will probably inherit one of the most critical and delicate roles in the city’s history. That mayor will be responsible for adeptly spending the federal dollars sent for recovery, organizing that process and making wise decisions to better brace the city and its people for a future disaster, both economically and physically.

You can read the entire AJR report by clicking here.

A little duck walks around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuse. Source: peterjr1961 / Flickr

A little duck walks around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. (Source: peterjr1961 / Flickr)

The Obama administration is looking to transform Jamaica Bay and other parks located in urban areas, into hotspots for hiking, biking, boating and camping, putting them on par with the nation’s most popular national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. The Queens Chronicle is reporting that the US Department of Interior and the National Parks Service (NPS) announced a general management plan for Jamaica Bay and the Gateway National Recreational Area that would turn the area, especially the Brooklyn parts, into major hubs for outdoors activity.

The Queens Chronicle described some of the plans proposed by the NPS:

Among the ideas being proposed in the NPS’s preferred plan are increased opportunities for camping in and around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and means of connection, such as bike lanes and trails, between sites around Gateway like Charles Park and Hamilton Park, which would also be eyed for “small-scaled” visitor centers that may include food and bicycle vendors — a plan proposed by the Parks Department to Community Board 10 in April that was shot down because board members wanted to see the park, notorious for being dilapidated and dirty, given an overhaul first.

Many of the drastic changes were proposed for parts of Brooklyn, such as Floyd Bennett Field, Plumb Beach and Canarsie Pier, and the Rockaways, where Fort Tilden would become a major hub for park activities…

The plan also includes suggestions for improving infrastructure, and dealing with the post-Sandy reality of flood risk. In the proposal the NPS outlines plans to construct new buildings to meet the flood elevation criteria set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and build roads that have sufficient drainage and can be passable in a flood.

NPS’s management plan also calls for increased public transportation — including ferries and better train service — to the area to bring visitors in from Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.

While environmentalists were pleased on the NPS’s plans to get people excited about the parks, Don Riepe, president of the American Littoral Society, cautioned that conservation should remain the top priority when it comes to the parks.

“My only concern is that I feel that there should be a major focus on protecting natural resources,” Riepe told the Queens Chronicle. “The recreation is fine. I think they should get their house in order. I’m asking ‘Who is going to manage it? Are the resources going to suffer?’”

Park of the Obama administration’s goal in pouring money into urban park environments is to get city kids to connect with nature.

The plan also stems from the Obama administration’s desire to pour more resources into federal parkland in or close to major cities — part of the White House’s larger plan to bring inner-city children to the outdoors.

In October 2011, then-U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mayor Bloomberg signed the agreement in Marine Park, Brooklyn that allowed the two entities to coordinate management of Gateway, which was created in 1972 as an attempt to protect and restore New York’s coastal wetlands that had been severely damaged by industrial pollution during the previous century.

“We are asking ‘How do we connect urban populations to the outdoors?’” Salazar said in 2011. “New York may be the greatest opportunity we have.”

The Queens Chronicle laid out information for the public comment period and other open house meetings for the federal plans:

Public comment is being accepted on the proposal online at parkplanning.nps.gov, where the entire plan can be downloaded and read. Open houses discussing the plan are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Ryan Visitor Center in Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

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