2002-07-13 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks and Stones

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

If the FAA cannot, or will not, apply existing technology to alternate in-flights to LaGuardia Airport with out-flights from JFK Airport out over the middle of Jamaica Bay and past Breezy Point to out over the ocean, then no commitments by the agency to avoid flying over the peninsula’s residential areas is possible!

Years ago an FAA representative made the point about the ‘LaGuardia in-flight obstacle’ to any noise abatement improvements over Rockaway by sending flights over the bay past Breezy. There was supposed to have been a study blah-blah-blah-blah to change flight patterns along this part of the coast, where this option would be considered. But what came of this option? Who knows? A change one place requires a change in another, etc. Reportedly, some changes in New Jersey caused some areas to become noise impacted that never were so previously. No changes were made in the skies over Rockaway, however. By contrast, that would indicate an FAA conclusion that, other than fanning out flights is all that is possible in an overloaded sky! But it certainly is a "taking" to overload some areas with more noise than others and whenever there is a full build-out of Arverne/Edgemere, the shared noise impact of an expanded JFK Airfreight industry over Rockaway will make the issue "more interesting!"

The airplane noise certainly doesn’t suppress mosquito reproduction at Dubos Point Park in Arverne and maybe it irritates the little vampires to greater reproductive success. The Port Authority once rented the site from NYC for potential navigational improvements, and certainly enough flights there to satisfy any quota for hearing loss over time.

But the mosquito quota is way out of whack and maybe should be spread out by NYC, the "Mosquito Farmer of Record" at the swampy site! As pointed out in the previous column this farmer has no property right to farm more than the property rights of surrounding residents – but does so. And even claims a levy on property owners whose vegetation is not to government standard height ‘as vegetation grows the mosquitoes’ and not the stagnant water the farmer (the city) maintains at the site and where the farmer knows mosquitoes breed in superabundance.

The farmer (the city) has sent Sanitation Department bulldozers to lay claim to private and public topsoil with a claim that by doing so – and along with plants – the mosquito problem will be abated when the standing water at Dubos Point builds in each mosquito season! And the Community Board (a city agency) has coordinated with the absurdity! So therefore the highly influential Eugenia Flatow (see previous issues) invited the District Manager of this local city agency to make a presentation on Mosquito Control at the recent Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting held at the Wildlife Preserve. She rejected my presentation (given on several occasions at NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program meetings). And she did not show up nor did an assistant who has been more helpful up to a point. So, relegated to the bleachers, a few squacks about absurd topsoil bulldozing losses while mosquitoes thrived would have had me removed had not cooler heads prevailed. A good repertory company would liven up some of the duller civics meetings and certainly of the local government agency. So by 2005 maybe the Army Corps of Engineers will, if funded, open up creeks at this ‘mosquito farmed city facility.’ And maybe the local government agency that coordinated with absurd bulldozing of property and ecosystem will get a written commitment for a necessary local sponsor for the federal agency’s plan for wetlands restoration/mosquito abatement to be undertaken.

So far the agent of the "Mosquito Farmer of Record (the City)" equals the NYC Parks Department has refused through several Commissioners. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has suggested, it would though the Parks Department of Environmental Conservation, which contracts out the Army Corps restoration plans for Jamaica Bay, is another option.

So the local government agency, Community Board 14, has the opportunity to contract out some of its needs at Dubos Point (aka Mosquito Point) to local officials to bring on the local sponsor.

It should be noted that the powers at the NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program, along with Eugenia Flatow and clique, had given by April 2000 ‘priority to high priority’ to wetlands restoration (much of it in Phragmites swamp as at Dubos Point) to the following:

Old Place Creek Watershed in Staten Island - 70 acres

Rahway Riverfront Park, N.J. - 75 acres

Two Hackensack sites-

Meadowlands, N.J. - 650 acres

Liberty State Park, N.J. - 120 acres

Idlewild Park, Queens - 26 acres

Alley Pond Park, Queens - 40 acres

Turtle Cove Pelham Bay Lagoon, Bronx - 30 acres

Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn - 10 acres

Marquis Creek (Raritan Bay Staten Island) - 40 acres

Leonardo (Raritan Bay, Staten Island) – 55 acres

Local sponsors were there or on the way. So it’s highly peculiar that Dubos Point still has no local sponsor of some Mosquito Farmer’s agency! Isn’t it?

So you want to buy a bridge or maybe two or three. Dirt cheap – let us all agree that Dubos Point should be worth more than dirt for the public health of local residents and for all of Rockaway.

So shouldn’t the City (Mosquito Farmer of Record) be more considerate and stop all this foolishness in Rockaway. Better this than eventual West Nile Virus (hopefully not)……

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