2003-03-08 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks Stones

by Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

As the heavy snows and freezing winds of what may be the worst blizzard of all time makes global warming hard to believe there is also a fading memory of springtime of Congregation Derech Emunoh of Arverne. It once stood at Beach 67 Street, the intersection of Larkin Avenue and Rockaway Beach Boulevards, where now is a construction and demolition filled lot. It burnt last May mysteriously and just as mysteriously was demolished a couple of days after the fire so no thorough investigation for the potential for wrongdoing could be carried out.

It’s as if a huge wave had swept away congregants after the conflagration. But there is a surviving congregation with faith and a dream to rebuild somewhere on the Arverne 308 acre tract. New proposals are being reviewed for environmental impacts and once the analysis is published for comments some plan for implementation will be out there! Not every voice calls for preservation of piping plovers (animal) or Seabeach Amaranth (plant) nor is there sensitivity to the scenic views of floriferous fields along the boardwalk (that should be included for coastal aesthetic preservation). Newspapers spin out visions of weedy fields where wild dogs and mosquito swarms lurk for victims to serve greenspace elimination (paving paradise to put up parking lots of densely packed built environment!) Much of the greenspace in the shadow of the former 7500+ units of the approved Oceanview Proposal has been built upon (with very little to none front and backyard landscaping potential). So HPD et al has indeed had no vision for the ecosystem preservation for modern developments!

Yet, as pointed out in other columns, there has to be considered preservation of the "creation" as Derech Emunoh and other houses of worship remind us of and as the "Creator" is concerned with from the time of the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Flood! The Arverne/Edgemere tract and the Head of Bay Jamaica Bay wetlands and shorelines are "watershed" that protect bay water quality from first flush pollution impacts (and the more paved over the surfaces collects runoff to wash into adjacent waterbodies – the Jamaica Bay.)

Technodrome (indoor recreation year-round proposal for waterfront recreational/employment activity (has shifted to the Hackensack meadowlands in New Jersey) and with a beach to bay park of the NYC Audubon Buffer the Bay proposal would be a ‘fortunate one’ with Convention Center/ Environmental Interpretive Center still a possibility! The Empire State Corporation with Interlocking Directorate to the Port Authority did not show interest in Rockaway’s Technodrome.

With such Interlocking Directorate, it has shown interest in disposing of toxic dredge spoils into the borrow pits and this is unfortunate with no massive public response in timely opposition!

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