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Schumer, Weiner Announce Task Force to Improve Floyd Bennett Field

Blue Ribbon Panel Will Ensure Park is Enjoyed for Generations to Come

New York City - In recognition of the 40 th anniversary of Earth Day and the increasing demand for quality park lands in New York City, Senator Charles Schumer (D - NY) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D - Brooklyn and Queens) announced the formation of the Floyd Bennett Field Blue Ribbon Panel, a task force that will establish a shared vision for the future of the park and make recommendations about how to improve the country's third mostvisited national recreation area.
Floyd Bennett Field, located in southeast Brooklyn near the Belt Parkway and Flatbush Avenue, became a part of Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972 when the park was established. Previously, it served as New York City's first municipal airport and an aerial hub for fighter planes during World War II. Though little known to many New Yorkers, the former airfield is now home to the Aviator recreation facility, complete with a football field, ice rinks and a climbing wall, as well as an NYPD training facility and a Marine Corps Reserve battalion. In the summer months, many visitors make use of the field's numerous campsites and picnic areas.
"Gateway National Recreation area is a part of what makes New York the greatest City in the world. As one of the country's largest urban parks, it is home to immense natural beauty and an incredible variety of recreational opportunities - but we can make it better," Weiner said. "I look forward to the final report of the Floyd Bennett Field Blue Ribbon Panel, and I'm confident that we can make improvements to ensure that the park is enjoyed for generations to come."
"National Parks are America's most precious treasures and Gateway National Recreation Area is New York City's crown jewel," Schumer said. "Gateway holds attractions that promise to spark adventure and stir the imagination, which is especially true for Floyd Bennett Field. The Field, which served as Brooklyn's first municipal airport and a hub for fighter planes during World War II, is sure to allow residents and visitors to enjoy the majesty of the park as a whole. It is my hope that Floyd Bennett Field Blue Ribbon Panel will come up with an excellent plan to make this recreational area a sight to see in New York City for years to come."
The National Park Service is in the process of preparing a new General Management Plan for Gateway National Recreation Area. Given that a number of City, State and Federal agencies - as well as millions of New Yorkers and tourists from across the country - have a stake in the future of the Park, there is a clear need for a comprehensive examination of the future of the area.
The Panel will be cochaired by Marian Heiskell, former director of the New York Times Company and a longtime Gateway advocate, and Deborah Shanley, Professor and Dean at Brooklyn College's School of Education.  The other nine members comprise community, civic, City, State and Federal partners.
The task force will convene with the following goals:
  • Establish a shared vision for the future of Floyd Bennett Field and its environs;
  • Identify ways to improve the recreational, ecological, educational aspects of the park
  • Examine the park in context of its urban setting and its relationship to regional transportation needs.
  • Improve access and make needed improvements to Floyd Bennett Field
  • Provide specific guidance to the National Park Service as to how this vision and opportunities can be applied to the upcoming General Management Plan and specific actions that could be taken to implement the plan's findings
The panel will meet four times over the next eight months. With support from the National Parks Conservation Association, Regional Plan Association and the National Park Service, the task force will hold three meetings to discuss the role of the park in New York City, solicit input as to various needs and potential uses for the site, and to develop draft recommendations.  At a fourth and final meeting, slated for September, the panel will consider and approve a final report.  
The creation of the Panel is a key recommendation of a new report by NPCA and RPA: The Path Forward. The report, which is available at envisioninggatewayfloyd bennettfieldandbeyond.html, synthesizes public comments generated online from the winning entries featured in the recent public design competition-Envisioning Gateway.
More than 2,000 respondents voted on six final winning designs, completed an online survey, and provided suggestions on how to improve Floyd Bennett Field, Jamaica Bay, and Gateway. Through organized stakeholder discussions, public input was solicited from civic organizations, city, state, and federal agencies, and communities surrounding the park, the region, and from across the nation.
"Gateway is New York City's greatest unrealized asset. We hope that with the investment and support from our elected officials that Gateway needs, the park becomes the crown jewel that New York deserves," said Alexander Brash, NPCA Northeast Regional Director. "We must ensure this urban national park is finally designed and built for our children and their children to truly enjoy."

"Gateway's mission of providing a national park experience for residents of the nation's largest city has never been more important" said Robert Pirani, Vice President for Environmental Programs at Regional Plan Association. "Bringing together federal, state, city, and community voices around a shared vision for Jamaica Bay and Floyd Bennett Field is the only way to realize the park's potential and promise. We hope the report we present today and with the Panel guide an unprecedented revitalization of one of New York best assets."