2003-05-02 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks Stones

by Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum
Sprayview Sticks Stones by Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum


The scrap wood might make for a boardwalk to observe mosquito swarms…a lot better to open creeks and not feed people to mosquito swarms….There were plans to close off the end of De Costa Avenue at Summerville basin where so much dumping accumulates. The Parks  De­part­ment never followed through! The Sanitation Department does a good job in cleaning up there.The scrap wood might make for a boardwalk to observe mosquito swarms…a lot better to open creeks and not feed people to mosquito swarms….There were plans to close off the end of De Costa Avenue at Summerville basin where so much dumping accumulates. The Parks De­part­ment never followed through! The Sanitation Department does a good job in cleaning up there.

Before the past history of Rockaway waterfront issues continues, it has to be pointed out that the people mentioned in these columns are quality people and that any appearance of, or actual mention of dishonor on their part is based on my personal experiences with them and even my grief for the "unethical treatment" of the environment.

Western Long Island Sound has excessive fertility problems, just as Jamaica Bay does. But, with the Idlewild Storm Sewer, with a 2.46 billion of gallons per day flow planned of street washings and other effluents, no ‘retention basin facility’ was thought necessary in the final phase and there was not even an Environmental Impact Statement required at federal/state/city levels! Who sent the Federal Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Program Act on hikes? Nobody seems to pay attention to those acts any more and our political leaders do not seem to care.

When these topics are brought up at Task Force or Harbor meetings by this Sprayview columnist, Eugenia Flatow never seems to have a relevant comment that puts a focus on the issue requiring evaluation! Furthermore, at an environmental festival it was pointed out that she is responsible (to her credit) for the State Waterfront Revitalization Program (clean water an asset).

Rockaway’s elected officials seem to resist any attempt to assemble a constituency to assist waterfront communities such as Rockaway or to plan and obtain funding to remediate our environmental problems.

The Wave editor has been provided sample brochures and surely there are discussions scheduled on boating access and public access, ferries, interpretive centers, etc, but the focus of everybody on the peninsula seems to be on just residential development.

Whenever I bring up specific Rockaway problems relevant to ‘access goals’ of the federal Harbor Estuary Program (e.g. surfing, fishing access) – as an outreach to environmental stewards like myself – there has been no support from Flatow or Robert Alpern, or any of our local politicians to at least register these problems as needing specific and separate analysis/solution! So as a target and as part of a waterfront access goal ‘Rockaway is zilched out’ and there is no elected official to seek help from – a perfect dis-informational disconnect!

After all, no help was obtained to stop topsoil strip mining as a substitute for wetland creek opening stagnant water reducing mosquito control from official investigative agencies (IG’s/AG’s/Justice/Chief Magistrates/Bureau Chiefs, etc. Is there some waterfront curse or what at Dubos Point? Its mosquito plagues continue year after year!

Returning to ex-Mayor Koch. I voted for him for his strong shoulders on a number of issues, though the final term was a shocker in municipal style corruption not unknown to governance in big cities.

When I called him up on his Voice of Reason WABC Radio show and suggested that the West Nile Virus (predictions for this year from a wet winter and continuing precipitation call for an eventual surge in cases) is a "Biblical Plague" meant to halt the strip mining of dirt, he quickly hung up and said it was ridiculous (not like malaria with millions of victims, for instance) and this guy thinks everyone is corrupt! So much for reasonable dialogue!…

Now it is an imperfect world ranging from the view that there is absolutely one right (good) and one wrong (evil) to one that holds there is no difference – it’s all relative and situational!

I am not such a purist not to have considered one casino in an entertainment complex that has water dependent and related elements. But at least a waterfront economy would be generated! And maybe funds would generate to chase the Dubos Point mosquito plagues away.

Had there been dialogue the ex-Mayor would have been told that a big plague was not necessary anyway (proportionate to local problem)…but is spread to the entire continental United States quite quickly from its discovery in north Queens in 1999, when much of the strip-mining of Rockaway’s topsoil had already taken place. A fenced topsoil pile could be a curiosity in an eco-tourism exhibit, maybe with a big mosquito perched on the top!

Neither Eugenia Flatow nor Robert Alpern (an associate and expert in programs, she also in connecting them) informed me that the HUD funded lot cleaning (actually clearing) has this goal and it’s funded about 8 to 13 million dollars a year. The city so far will not spare any of those funds to open even one creek at Dubos Point. The Army Corps has planned to open 4 to 5 when funds ever come!

Note that Dubos Point, aka Mosquito Point, has not been fast tracked in a Hudson-Raritan Estuary Program (a needs and opportunities plan funded by the Port Authority and the Corps of Engineers the recipient). I do not make this stuff up, and it does generate grief….RPA/Appleton author….

To be continued.


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