2003-01-04 / Front Page

Environmental Center To Close Its Doors

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

The Gateway Environmental Study Center, a joint project of Gateway National Park and The city’s Education Department, will close its doors for good after 27 years of operation, according to reports received recently by The Wave.

The study center, located at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, has taught hundreds of thousands of school students from the New York City public schools, including those schools in District 27, about the local environment and ecosystems.

The city has reportedly pulled out of the partnership due to the budget cuts mandated by the mayor and the chancellor.

The closing, slated for February 1, has angered many local educators.

"Nowhere else in this city can our kids experience the environment the way they can at the study center," said Mike Steffans, a teacher whose students utilize the center. "It has provided a quality Science and Mathematics-based environmental education to literally thousands of New York City teachers and students."

Dan Routledge is another teacher who uses the center for both staff development purposes and for his students to learn about the environment of the local area.

"The environmental center is the only partnership between the Education Department and the Park Service," he says. "The program, run by teachers and park rangers, educate not only children, but parents and teaches as well."

According to Routledge, hundreds of teachers attend workshops run by the center, enabling them to bring back information to their students and allowing them to develop classroom lessons based on what they learned.

"Our children should have the same benefits as children in the suburbs and rural areas," he told The Wave. "Just because we live in a city, there is no reason that our children should lack for hands-on instruction on environmental issues."

There was nobody at either Gateway National Park or the Education Department who was willing or available to comment on the closing.

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