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Assemblyman Goldfeder and Senator Addabbo pass bill to extend protection to Jamaica Bay

 Goldfeder, Addabbo Pass Sweeping Environmental Protections for Jamaica Bay 

State Senate, Assembly unanimously vote for five-year extension to ban on dumping of toxic materials into Jamaica Bay borrow pits  Goldfeder, Addabbo now urge Governor Cuomo to sign the major environmental protection into law

Broad Channel, Queens – In the final hours of this year’s legislative session, New York State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Broad Channel) and Senator Joseph Addabbo (D – Broad Channel) secured a five-year extension to landmark legislation preventing the dumping of toxic materials into Jamaica Bay.

“Jamaica Bay is a vital resource for the entire community. It supports so much of the recreational and economic activity that benefits thousands of families across southern Queens and Rockaway. It is also critical habitat for our fragile coastal ecosystem and we have a responsibility to preserve and protect it,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “Extending the ban on dumping toxic materials into the Jamaica Bay borrow pits will ensure that we continue to maintain this special place now and for future generations.”

“As a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, I believe Jamaica Bay is a critical natural resource and an environmental jewel that needs to be carefully protected. I am pleased that we have passed this legislation ensuring that existing environmental safeguards for the bay will remain in place for at least another six years. We need to remain vigilant to ensure that our beautiful bay isn’t allowed to become a dumping ground for harmful pollutants.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder in protecting the delicate ecology of Jamaica Bay, which includes unique salt marshes, and taking action to prevent any environmental degradation that may result in a loss of wildlife habitat, compromised water quality and other negative consequences for the area. I am hopeful this new bill to extend protections will be signed into law by Governor Cuomo,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo.

Last Thursday, state legislators in both the Senate and Assembly passed bill A10560/S08043 to create a five-year extension to legislation by Assemblyman Goldfeder and Senator Addabbo prohibiting the dumping of toxic materials into the borrow pits under Jamaica Bay. This extends through 2022 language in state Environmental Conservation Law requiring permits for filling borrow pits with materials generated by dredging projects in area waterways. Under this restriction, the sediments must also meet the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Class A criteria for chemical contamination, the state’s highest sediment classification.

The DEC spells out sediment classification in its Technical and Operational Guidance Series (TOGS), a compendium of regulatory and enforcement mechanisms aimed at protecting New York water quality in the state’s lakes, rivers and coastlines. The TOGS classifies sediment by Classes A-C based on the levels of chemicals and heavy metals present, with Class A indicating “no toxicity to aquatic life” while Class C confirms “acute toxicity to aquatic life.”  The class A requirement in Goldfeder and Addabbo’s bill would provide the highest level of environmental protection to the bay and surrounding habitats.

The future of the Bay’s borrow pits has long been a point of contention between state and federal officials; and area residents and environmental activists.

The term “borrow pits” refers to areas of deeper water depths in the bay created by projects that excavated, or “borrowed,” seabed sediments for use in other areas. The largest and deepest of these is the borrow pit directly adjacent to JFK International Airport, which supplied landfill for expansion projects at the major transit hub. Borrow pits have also been created for the construction of Floyd Bennett Field and other public works.

In the mid-1980s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed filling the borrow pits with sediment generated by dredging in New York harbor. According to the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, a local environmentalist group, the proposal was an effort on the part of the federal government to dispose of sediments deemed too toxic under federal guidelines for dumping in the ocean. The waters around Jamaica Bay form part of the National Park Service’s Gateway Recreational Area and also fall under the jurisdiction of the state DEC.

In 2012, Goldfeder and Addabbo partnered with the Ecowatchers to introduce legislation banning the dumping of these toxic materials into the bay. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law in 2014, however the language included a June 30, 2017 expiration date, leading to this most recent extension proposed by the legislators. The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers welcome Goldfeder and Addabbo’s new push as a potentially major step in protecting the bay for future generations.

“The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers commend Assemblyman Goldfeder and Senator Addabbo for passing this critical legislation and we urge to governor Cuomo to sign it,” said Dan Mundy, Jr., President of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers. “It is fitting that the assemblyman’s last bill before leaving office will provide long-term protection for this community and environment and put a halt to a horrible plan which was driven purely by economics. Assemblyman Goldfeder is going out the way that he has served his constituents from day one, which is fighting the good fight looking out for the families he served and protecting beautiful areas like Jamaica Bay for generations to come. Environmental groups around the bay applaud Assemblyman Goldfeder and state Senator Joseph Addabbo’s efforts to get this bill passed.”

The passage of the bill last week amounted to an eleventh hour victory for the Queens officials. Both houses unanimously voted in favor of the bill during the evening of the last scheduled day of session for the year, which was later extended into Friday. Goldfeder and Addabbo are now calling on Governor Cuomo to sign the bill into law.

“We thank Dan Mundy and all the environmental advocates for their tireless work and urge Governor Cuomo to join our bipartisan effort to protect Jamaica Bay for years to come,” said the legislators. 

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ROCKAWAY ARTIFICIAL REEF CONSTRUCTED

For Release: Friday, October 23, 2015
Reef Project Will Improve Fishing and Diving at Rockaway Reef

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A new series of man-made reefs will be constructed off the south shore of Long Island to improve marine life habitat and bolster recreational opportunities for fishing and scuba diving, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced today.

Federal and state permits were recently secured for the Rockaway Reef project, and the first placement of materials is happening this week. “The deployment of these new reef building materials will recreate vital marine habitat essential for improving the health of marine fish while also providing benefits for divers and fishermen alike,” said DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman. “We thank the Army Corps of Engineers for working with DEC to obtain these new permits and to ensure this economically important habitat restoration continues.”

Rockaway Reef, originally permitted in 1965, is a 413-acre area of man-made reefs located 1.6 nautical miles south of Rockaway Beach off Long Island. Under a previous reef permit, thousands of tons of rock, concrete and steel had been placed there over the decades creating important marine habitat. The most current permit had sunset in 1989, resulting in no new material being added to the reef, and recent reports had indicated much of the previously placed material had silted in or collapsed, degrading the habitat created.

Rockaway Reef is one of 11 sites managed through NYSDEC’s Artificial Reef Program, which was established to increase fisheries habitat and provide marine fish and other organisms additional opportunities for shelter and foraging.

Transco-Williams, the company associated with the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Pipeline Project, will pay for the $1.6 million project.

More than 450 sections of concrete coated steel pipe will be placed to expand the network of individual patch reefs throughout the Rockaway Reef site. These patch reefs will provide valuable marine habitat for popular finfish species such as tautog, fluke, black sea bass and scup, as well as for crabs and lobsters.

“I look forward to NYSDEC’s construction of man-made reefs on the southern portion of Rockaway Beach, which will bolster tourism activities, sustain a more well-rounded environment, and foster a healthy habitat for robust marine life,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks. “I thank the Governor for his ongoing efforts to bolster Rockaway Beach post-Super Storm Sandy and I look forward to continuing to work with him to enhance our communities.”

“The Rockaway peninsula is flourishing, and is now more vibrant and exciting than ever before,” said Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. “The addition of new reefs will contribute to this by attracting more divers and fisherman to the area while also protecting the water and keeping our environment clean, safe and healthy.”

“The creation of Rockaway Reef in 1965 was a landmark achievement in our efforts to protect coastal habitats and promote marine recreation activities,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “In reauthorizing this project, New York State has ensured our community’s continued stewardship of this vital ocean ecosystem. I give tremendous credit to DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman, Transco Williams and, especially, the Broad Channel Civic Association for their leadership in these efforts.”

The addition of new reef building materials has also received positive feedback from local divers and fishermen. Dan Mundy, Jr. of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, said, “The Rockaway Artificial Reef provides an amazing habitat for all types of marine life and a fantastic recreational destination for sport and commercial fishermen as well as scuba divers. The New York State DEC is to be commended for pursuing new permits and much needed enhancements at the site. When completed it will be a huge ecological benefit to this area and will provide additional recreational opportunities.”

The New York Artificial Reef Program is popular with many local fishermen and divers, and party charter boats. It enhances recreational opportunities and helps to support the local economy. Fishermen and divers who access the artificial reefs support local businesses through the purchase of fuel, bait and tackle, marine equipment, and by using for-hire charters and dive vessels.

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Senator Schumer calls for funding for West Pond Fix !

SCHUMER: GATEWAY NATIONAL RECREATION AREA’S ICONIC JACOB RIIS BATHHOUSE SHOULD BE REFURBISHED INTO A MULTI-FUNCTIONAL MODERN VISITOR FACILITY FOR BEACH GOERS; URGES FEDS TO PROVIDE FEDERAL FUNDING TO  TRANSFORM HISTORIC, ART DECO BATHHOUSE & MAKE MAJOR ECOLOGICAL IMPROVEMENTS TO JAMAICA BAY’S WEST POND

Gateway Is In Need of Two Major Upgrades: Historic, One-Of-A-Kind Jacob Riis Bathhouse Has Potential to Be Center of Attraction Along Rockaway Beach, Yet It Has Been In Disrepair & Underused for Decades; Jamaica Bay’s West Pond Was Seriously Breached During Sandy, Destroying Unique Freshwater Habitat  Schumer Urges Dept. of Interior to Provide Federal Funds to Improve Gateway National Recreation Area By Renovating Jacob Riis Bathhouse Into a Full-Functioning, Resilient Facility for Food, Bike Rentals & Other Amenities Needed in the Park Schumer Also Pushes Feds to Provide Funding to Reestablish Visitor Access to West Pond & Restore Important Freshwater Habitat for Birds, Fish & Other Species

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Department of Interior (DOI) to provide federal funding to improve the Gateway National Recreation Area by renovating the iconic Jacob Riis Bathhouse and restoring the West Pond. Specifically, Schumer is urging DOI to refurbish Jacob Riis Bathhouse as an adaptive, full-functioning facility with a redesigned, resilient ground level for food service, bicycle rental, and other concessions that are currently lacking at the park. Schumer is also urging DOI to redesign West Pond in a way that will reestablish access to the pond for all visitors and provide greater storm resiliency in the future. Schumer said that West Pond should restore freshwater habitat that will help benefit birds and aquatic species.

Schumer said that despite the enormous population surrounding Gateway National Recreation Area, the unique potential of this invaluable urban park is inhibited by inadequate attention to natural and visitor-serving resources. In advance of the National Park Service’s Centennial and implementation of Gateway’s recently completed General Management Plan, Schumer is urging the DOI to dedicate federal resources this year and in FY2016 to improving Gateway National Recreation Area.

“The Department of Interior should do everything possible to improve the treasures of Gateway National Recreation Area, and that includes both the iconic Jacob Riis Bathhouse and Jamaica Bay’s West Pond. For instance, the historic Jacob Riis Bathhouse has so much potential, yet we’ve allowed it to be underused for far too long. The Department of Interior should provide federal funding in order to transform the Jacob Riis Bathhouse into a full-functioning facility that can provide much-needed amenities to beachgoers. In addition, we need federal funds to restore West Pond and protect it from future damage. Animals in our ecosystem rely on West Pond and we should do everything to make sure they can continue to call it home,” said Senator Schumer.

Jacob Riis Park, as part of Gateway National Recreation Area, is located in Rockaway Beach, Queens. The 40,000-square foot Art Deco bath house opened in 1932 and since the 1990s, has been under construction and practically abandoned. The Jacob Riis Bathhouse was seriously damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, and then again by Superstorm Sandy. Schumer today urged DOI to provide federal funds to transform the iconic Jacob Riis Bathhouse into a multi-functioning facility that will be able to offer a variety of services to beach goers.

West Pond, a 45-acre freshwater body at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, was seriously damaged by Superstorm Sandy when a breach was formed, connecting the Pond tidally to the Bay. While the storm also breached the East Pond, it has already been repaired as part of the project to restore subway service to the A and S lines. For many years, the West Pond has provided nesting, foraging and loafing habitat for some of the 330 species of birds found in Jamaica Bay. The western-most end of the pond has been important for terrapin nesting. Schumer today urged the DOI to provide federal funds to help enhance protection of the West Pond from severe storm events and storm surge in the future. Schumer said that a freshwater marsh habitat provides unique and important habitat for birds, fish and other species.

“ Senator Schumer has long been an advocate for Jamaica Bay and the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers applaud his effort to see this most critical National Urban Park receive the funding that it so rightly deserves. The West Pond has long been the “Crown Jewel” of this park and the only National Wildlife refuge that can be accessed via a subway ride. Once a favorite visiting experience for thousands of New Yorkers it has been mostly off limits since suffering major damage after Hurricane Sandy. The West Pond with its famous “Loop Trail” and critical fresh water environment must be restored as soon as possible. Working with our partners in the National Parks Service and with assistance and leadership of Senator Schumer we believe that the West Pond , and the entire Gateway National Park, can be not only restored  but become a symbol of what a great National Urban Park can be for the millions of Americans who live within but a few miles of this National Treasure” said Dan Mundy Jr., Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers

Having a large freshwater pond in the middle of a saltmarsh estuary has made the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge a mecca for birds and birders alike”, said Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay Guardian for the American Littoral Society. “Repairing the West Pond is critical to maintaining the Refuge’s international reputation as one of the East Coast’s premier urban hot spots for birds and other wildlife.”

Curt Collier, National Youth Programs Director at Groundwork USA said, “Jacob Riis Park was named for an early advocate who used photography to show New Yorkers how, “the other half lived;” that is, how unfairness, neglect, and the impoverished conditions of New York in the 1890s diminished the human spirit.  Parks such as these were remedies for the challenges of city life and a space where all could gather to play, recreate, and renew.  We cannot let these monuments to our better ideals fall further into disrepair.  This is not simply a beach bathhouse which has been left to deteriorate….but a reminder of what else we have failed to uphold.”

Paul Curiale, President of the Mill Basin Civic Association said, “Hurricane Sandy destroyed our homes, crippled our parks and forced Brooklyn and Queens to rebuild itself from the ground up.  Right after the storm, Jacob Riis Park was used as a dumping ground where tons of trash sat for months.  It’s time we reverse this horrible image and bring life back to our national park and beach as an indication of our strong, resilient community.  Funding is desperately needed to complete refurbishments to the historic Riis Bathhouse.  This restored iconic attraction would welcome local residents year round while helping our merchant businesses by bringing families to our shorefront.”

Annette Fisher, Coney Island Beautification Project  said, “The need for the Riis Bathhouse and West Pond is that more amenities increase desired home ownership which create business development all of which increase tax revenues that help us all.”

 

 

 

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Jamaica Bay Task Force Meeting

February 28 2015

JAMAICA BAY TASK FORCE MEETING

AT NPS JAMAICA BAY VISITOR CENTER

MARCH 19, 2015 @ 6:30 PM

175-01 CROSS BAY BOULEVARD BROAD CHANNEL, NY 11693

AGENDA                                                                                                                            6:30 to 6:45—- Sign in, acknowledgement of Elected Officials,Agencies and Organizations present

6:45 to 7:05— ALS, Habitat Maintenance at the Wildlife Refuge,                             By Don Riepe

7:05 to 7:25-—SRIJB, Stakeholder Co-Chair report                                                        By Dan Mundy Jr

7:25 to 7:45 –-NYC DEP, Update on Jamaica Bay BNR Program                                  By Keith Mahoney, Chief of Regulatory Planning, NYCDEP

7:45 to 8:05 —-ACOE, Preliminary Jamaica Bay Alternative Formulation. By Dan Falt, Project Manager-NYC Region Coastal Restoration & Special Projects Branch Programs & Project Management U.

8:05 to 8:25— NYC Parks, Update on Sunset Cove                                                         By Elisabeth Jordan, Ecological Restoration Manager, Landscape Architect

 

CO CHAIRS

Dan Mundy & Don Riepe

 

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