By John C. McLoughlin
Arverne residents could be finally receiving the assistance they need in fighting their mosquito problems. The Army Corps of Engineers and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection have joined together in a $3 million preliminary study and design plan to alleviate mosquito infestation in Arverne.
Plans call for the restoration of parts of Jamaica Bay, including deepening and restoring creeks to promote circulation to flush out stagnant pools and infusing salt water into the marsh. Environmentalists have touted these plans as key mosquito control methods.
A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers said that completion of the study and design is expected by early 2002 and the completion of the project a year or two later.
This is good news for Bernie Blum, president of the Friends of Rockaway, who has been advocating for a comprehensive mosquito control program for years. "The Army Corps of Engineers should be congratulated in taking this approach," Blum said. "The powers-that-be have done nothing significant for 10 years to help us."
Earlier in the year, the New York City Parks Department began to tackle the mosquito issue by cleaning up Dubois Point in Arverne. The debris, garbage and tires that populated Dubois Point became a breeding ground for mosquitoes, but the Parks Department was forced to halt its efforts when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a Notice of Violation. During its clean up, DEC claims that the Parks Department altered habitats along the beach, mowing marsh vegetation and smothering intertidal marsh with debris. The Parks Department was issued a $15,000 fine.
Residents of the area believe that government is moving in the right direction, but it has been at a snails pace. Knowing that they will have to live through another summer of mosquitoes, locals have looked into the possibility of purchasing a mosquito magnet. The device releases a trail of carbon dioxide, which attracts the female mosquito. The mosquito is then vacuumed into a net and dies of dehydration.
Recently, the New York City Health Department has undertaken the initiative of using larvicide pellets to kill mosquito eggs and the city has cleaned catch basins and sewers to eliminate standing water. "We’ll see in three or four weeks how effective this was," said Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14.
The Health Department will be discussing their plans for Arverne at a special meeting jointly sponsored by the Arverne Civic Association and Community Board 14 on Monday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Bethel AME Church, 215 Beach 77 street.