Archive for the tag 'national parks service'



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.”

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, 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.

Hundreds of Canada geese were rounded up in Jamaica Bay for the second year in a row. The captured geese will be euthanized in the name of human air safety. The New York Times is reporting that the controlled slaughter of the geese is an effort on the part of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cut the Canada geese population in half so they don’t disrupt air traffic.

Just like last year, the meat of the dead geese will be distributed to food pantries across the city. The Times explained why the annual mass goose killings have been authorized:

Hundreds of geese have been removed each summer from parks within a few miles of the area’s major airports and slaughtered — much to the dismay of animal-rights advocates — since 2009, after a US Airways jet was brought down in the Hudson River by a bird strike. The government is trying to nearly halve the Canada goose population in 17 Atlantic states, to 650,000 from 1.1 million.

As the report indicates, animal activists are not happy about the practice.  Edita Birnkrant, New York director of Friends of Animals, expressed her horror to the Times in an email.

“The adult geese and babies were squawking loudly in distress as they were stuffed into the crates. That this is happening in NYC’s only wildlife refuge is stunning.”

The National Parks Service noted that in addition to the 500 geese planned for capture in Jamaica Bay, 322 geese have been captured in parks across the city. According to experts, their population control plans have thus far worked as the number of geese they have nabbed this year has declined.

Still, it’s kind of terribly heartbreaking and sad.



The Jamaica Bay Greenway coalition is hoping to open new bike lanes across the city, including places like Midwood, Marine Park and Manhattan Beach. The New York Daily News is reporting that the coalition is first meeting with Community Board 10 in South Queens to present their plans for expanded lanes near Howard Beach, but will soon host similar powwows in Southern Brooklyn.

Some of the proposed lanes, which can be examined in greater detail by clicking here, cut through parts of Midwood, Marine Park and one loops through Manhattan Beach. Other proposed lanes loop around the Canarsie Pier, Jamaica Bay and Jacob Riis Park.

The Jamaica Bay Greenway Coalition plans to visit Community Boards covering Marine Park and Canarsie in the near future but will not force the issue if residents express concerns.

“We’re going to communities to find out their interest,” Le’alani Schaumburg, a community planner with the National Parks Service told the Daily News.

Source: h-bomb via Flickr

Earlier this month we reported on plans by the Parks Department and the National Parks Service (NPS) to introduce more tourist-friendly elements to Jamaica Bay, like bike rentals and food concessions. Now it looks like the Parks Department and the NPS have announced three Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that further detail their plans to attract more visitors via a press release.

The leaders behind this effort cited the success that the Rockaway Beach Club has experienced since their introduction of diverse food carts and offerings.

“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with the City to expand visitor services at our beaches through the wonderful food found in New York City’s mobile food trucks,” said Linda Canzanelli, Superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area. “Expanded opportunities for biking, canoeing and kayaking are great ways to help everyone experience America’s great outdoors and the wonders to be found around Jamaica Bay.”

The Parks Department and the NPS are seeking food vendors for “a one year term, with three, one year renewal options – exercisable at NYC Parks’ and the concessionaires’ mutual discretion.”

If you have a food truck business and would like to get on the ground floor of the emerging Jamaica Bay tourist scene, the Parks Department and the NPS are accepting proposals to their RFPs right now. Here are the details from the press release.

All proposals submitted in response to these RFPs must be submitted no later than Monday, April 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm. There will be a recommended proposer meeting and site tour on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 10:00 am. Meetings begin in the multipurpose room (to the right of the lobby and down the hall) of Gateway National Recreation Area’s Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field, which is located at Aviation Road and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn.

Hard copies of the RFPs can be obtained, at no cost, through Monday, April 8, 2013 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and holidays, at the Revenue Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which is located at 830 Fifth Avenue, Room 407, New York, NY 10065.

The RFPs are also available for download through Monday, April 8, 2013 on the Parks Department website. To download the RFP, visit and click on the “Concessions Opportunities at Parks” link. Once you have logged in, click on the “download” link that appears adjacent to the RFP’s description.

For more information or to request to receive a copy of the RFP by mail, prospective proposers may contact Lauren Standke from the Revenue Division of Parks at (212) 360-3495 or at

Photo Courtesy Of Jeremy Drakeford

Officials from the Parks Department and the National Parks Service are collaborating on plans to bring food concession stands, and bike and kayak rentals to Jamaica Bay, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

Officials hope that an expansion of services in the region will go hand-in-hand with the restoration of the bay.

“We’re excited about the future plans for Jamaica Bay,” Dan Mundy Jr. of Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers told the Daily News. “People will have greater access to the bay and we will also be able to keep up with restoration programs.”

Dan Hendrick, who is making a documentary called Jamaica Bay Lives, told the Daily News that increased tourism friendly activities around the bay will have a positive impact on the community that lives near the bay.

But Hendrick said many area residents have a “disconnect” with the bay because they consider it polluted. He hopes by opening it up to different kinds of recreation — such as camping in areas such as Floyd Bennett Field — they will develop a connection.

While its nice that the Parks Department and the National Parks Service want to create a more tourist friendly Jamaica Bay, there is also a mixed message being sent as the industrialization of Floyd Bennett Field continues with the development of the Jamaica Bay pipeline project.

Despite this, officials are excited about transforming Jamaica Bay into a hotter tourist destination, hoping that added amenities will spark a resurgence of interest.

Fort Tilden, before and after Sandy. Click to enlarge. (Source: NPS)

Six weeks after Superstorm Sandy struck the Gateway Recreational Area, a majority of the space remains closed, according to a New York Times report. The National Parks Service, which is in charge of the clean up, is facing an enormous task, clearing sand and debris from roadways, restoring drinking water and sewage treatment, and fighting mold breakouts in buildings where basements were flooded.

The National Parks Service has imported federal personnel from across the country to fill out and supplement Gateway’s staff, allowing for quick progress on the removal of sand and debris clogging the roadways.

The large crew faces tougher challenges than cosmetic ones like road clearing. Freshwater ponds in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge were flooded with saltwater when Sandy’s storm surge etched a new inlet in the Bay, breaching the natural separation from sea waters. In Sandy Hook, a wastewater treatment plant and a drinking water system were both disrupted by the surging waters.

Also hampering restoration were the presence of thousands of first responders who used the area to stage recovery operations. Gateway’s superintendent, Linda Canzanelli, told the Times that, “Gateway became the epicenter for the recovery, and we had 5,000 rescue folks in Floyd Bennett Field and Miller Field. A lot brought in trailers and tents.”

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The proposed placement of natural gas pipelines from Williams and National Grid. Source: Williams

According to the legislative calendar for the House of Representatives, H.R. 2606, better known as the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act or the Jamaica Bay pipeline, is set to be voted on today. After the area where the pipeline will be installed was badly damaged due to Sandy, advocates against the pipeline warn that a major storm could happen again, and with the pipeline there the consequences could be far worse than ever before.

The proposed construction of this pipeline has been marred by dozens of protests and thousands of anti-pipeline petition signatures. Now that they’ve seen Sandy’s aftermath, advocates against the pipeline have added another reason not to ahead with construction to their list.

The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP) writes:

It’s complete insanity to build a high-pressure gas pipeline and metering station in an area that has just been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and will REGULARLY experience such events, or worse, in the decades to come. We don’t need this gas — we need to stop climate change and switch to renewables.

This bill permits construction of a gas pipeline in a national park – right next to a wildlife refuge that is home to a dozen endangered and threatened species; right under a public beach that is used by thousands of New Yorkers every year; and right by the largest community garden on the East Coast.

In the wake of the Hurricane Sandy stopping this bill is imperative. The bill authorizes construction of a high-pressure gas pipeline and metering station in an area that has just experienced major flooding and fire – and will do so again as the oceans rise because of climate change. Thousands of lives could be jeopardized in the event of another hurricane or storm surge.

They urge others to join them in their opposition of the pipeline by calling local congressmembers Tuesday morning and telling them to vote “no” on H.R. 2606.

You can find your congressperson’s Washington number by going here.


As we reported last week, the Army Corp of Engineers began the process of restoring Plumb Beach by pumping more than 127,000 cubic yards of sand into the eroded stretch.

The video above shows you exactly what you’d expect sand pumping to look like, with a motorized plume of sand exploding onto the coastline in a near continuous stream. The sand itself is coming from Ambrose Channel, one of the city’s navigational waterways that serves commercial vessels coming and going from New York Harbor.

The process of pumping sand onto the beach is part of effort’s first phase, which should be completed in November.

The restoration of Plumb Beach, which was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Ida in 2009, is expected to be completed in 2013 at a cost of $6.5 million dollars.

The parking lot is temporarily closed to visitors.

Plumb Beach Bike Path Destroyed By Hurricane Ida

The Plumb Beach bike path after Hurricane Ida swept through in 2009.

The Army Corps of Engineers will begin hotly-anticipated long-term repairs to Plumb Beach today, dumping the first of 127,000 cubic yards of sand on an eroded stretch of the coastline.

The first phase of the project will see sand pumped onto Plumb Beach, brought here from Ambrose Channel – a navigational waterway that serves many of the commercial vessels entering and exiting New York Harbor. The Staten Island-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock won the $3.5 million contract, and they will also place temporary geotube groins to prevent against any further erosion during the construction.

“Plumb Beach is being saved. The Belt Parkway is being saved. It is a good day for our community,” said Councilman Fidler.

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