SCHUMER: FEDS SHOULD PRIORITIZE RESILIENCY PROJECTS THROUGHOUT GATEWAY NATIONAL PARK; CALLS ON DEPT. OF INTERIOR TO PROVIDE $10M IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR RESTORATION PROJECTS AT JAMAICA BAY, RIIS BEACH, FORT TILDEN, FLOYD BENNETT FIELD & CANARSIE PIER
Superstorm Sandy Highlighted the Need for Protection & Restoration Projects at Gateway National Park; Last Year’s General Management Plan for NPS Included List of Long-Term Gateway Projects
Schumer Urges DOI to Fund Critical Gateway Projects, Including Restoration of West Pond, Improvements at Riis Beach, Restoration of Jacob Riis Bathhouse, Shoreline Softening at Floyd Bennett Field, Revitalization of Canarsie Pier & More
Schumer Calls for Funding to Include Long-Term Planning Project to Allow More People to Easily Access Gateway via Public Transportation, Biking & Walking
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Department of Interior (DOI) to provide funding in their fiscal year 2016 budget for several critical projects in New York’s Gateway National Recreation Area, including the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Riis Beach and Fort Tilden, Floyd Bennett Field, and Canarsie Pier. In 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) released its General Management Plan (GMP) for Gateway, which helps park managers focus on what is most important in carrying out a new 20-year vision for Gateway and helps address today’s challenges regarding climate change and protections from sea-level rise. Schumer today urged DOI to dedicate $10 million dollars to fulfill the goals set forth in the Gateway National Recreation Area GMP.
Specifically, Schumer said the transformative Gateway projects, outlined below, should be funded in DOI’s upcoming Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Schumer also pointed to a project that would include transportation planning to improve access to Floyd Bennett Field and other parts of Jamaica Bay that anticipate significant increases in visitors. Schumer explained that investing in this long-term planning project would allow for future public transportation improvements and allow even more people to access the park.
“Gateway National Recreation Area provides unique, urban park and beach space to countless New Yorkers and visitors, and these transformative projects will make it an even better and more resilient urban park,” said Senator Schumer. “Sections of Gateway were seriously damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and some sections, like Riis’s parking lot, were used to hold debris while communities throughout the Rockaways recovered. The Department of Interior should invest $10 million towards these Gateway projects to make the park even more usable and better serve the needs of the surrounding community and environment.”
"Gateway National Recreation Area is not only an historic site and one of the greatest public parks in the region, but is also an essential barrier against storm surges like Superstorm Sandy. I applaud Senator Schumer's leadership and join him in calling on the Department of the Interior to fully fund projects critical to our resilience," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "Funding the restoration of Gateway's natural wetlands will ensure that thousands of families throughout Queens and the city will have additional storm protection and can continue to benefit from this great natural resource in the years to come."
Gateway National Recreation Area is located in one of the most densely urbanized regions of the country, with over 20 million residents in the surrounding New York/New Jersey area. After Superstorm Sandy, many parts of the park were closed due to damage, including flooding, debris, fallen trees and more. Specifically, the bathhouse, police building and lifeguard station at Jacob Riis Park were flooded. The West and East Ponds at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge were breached and the West Pond circular trail was cut in half.
In his letter, Schumer today said that DOI needs to provide funding to help enhance coastal resiliency, engagement of urban youth and recreation access for diverse populations. Schumer explained that DOI should invest in the following projects to help prevent future damage in the event of a storm:
Restoration of West Pond At Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge: Funding is needed to repair the breach, which has widened since Superstorm Sandy and to complete restoration of West Pond.
Reconstruction of Frank M. Charles Memorial Park: Funding is needed to improve the park and make sure it is brought up to a level of usability.
Recreational and ecological improvements to Fort Tilden Historic District and Riis Beach: Funding is needed to reduce the size of the parking lot, install permeable pavements, replant coastal scrub habitat, remove invasive and poison ivy and improve opportunities for concessions.
Restoration of the Jacob Riis Bathhouse and recreation area: The bathhouse will be reprogrammed to allow the first floor to be converted to an open air space used for modular concessions, programming and installations. Ecological and recreational enhancements to the recreation area behind the bathhouse are needed.
Wetlands restoration and shoreline softening on the southeastern and northern portions of Floyd Bennett Field: Funding is needed for shoreline softening, which will restore essential coastal habitat. Funding is also needed to plan and design bulkhead removal and adjacent wetlands restoration as part of long-term improvements.
Enhancement, reconstruction, and revitalization of Canarsie Pier: Funding is needed to construct a dock for public excursion vessel access, improved angling facilities and improvements for picnicking, paddling, and other recreational features.
Long-Term Planning Projects:
Planning resources are necessary for the continued long-term improvement of Gateway and to allow more people to easily access Gateway via public transportation, biking, and walking.
Planning capacity is needed to ensure Gateway can leverage and complete upcoming Centennial projects.
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