2003-05-23 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks Stones

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

The Coalition for the Bight newsletter of July 1987, "Watch on the Waterfront" mentions ‘Arverne" in the Commission on the year 2000, Report to the Mayor New York Ascendant (June 1987). The report’s recommendation on housing says redevelopment in the outer borough to include new low-income housing constructed by the New York City Housing authority, small moderate income 1-, 2-, and 3 family homes (like Nehemiah model), and large scale middle income projects on sites such as Arverne;"

Waterfront planning is mentioned as follows: " a public waterfront" unifying the five boroughs implementing a "comprehensive plan." Note public spaces and parks are also mentioned as promoting stable neighborhoods along with other elements.

But on the same page 4 on coastal issues an article in Environment is cited mentioning Congressman Bill Green’s recommendations to stop global warming and impacts on the economy as follows: "Regarding climate change, he said it would be prudent….to work on coastal zone management. Even though the best estimates of sea-level rise by the end of the next century are in the range of 1 to 2 feet, this could have significant effects on the frequency of flooding, erosion, and storm-wave damage in coastal areas. It would be prudent to limit building and development in areas where there is potential danger."

It should be remembered that this Sprayview column has mentioned Eugenia Flatow as one of the power elite that has influenced environmental issues in Rockaway/Jamaica Bay. She runs "Coalition for the Bight" and has returned as Co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program. She said she was not going to run for re-election, but obviously has. So the ‘interlocking directorate’ of her leadership at the Harbor Program, the Jamaica bay Task Force, and the New York City Soil and Water Conservation has been restored!

While others have approved, Sprayview is a bit shocked. Flatow has worked for the Housing Authority (HPD) and even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and lobbies and tries to bring bureaucratic consensus on environmental issues and especially on maintaining the viability of the NY/NJ Harbor for which there is national and international competition. So she is to be lauded for much and there should be gratitude!

But she is one of the power elite when Jamaica Bay Borrow Pits are studied for the introduction of toxic dredge spoils from other parts of the harbor into Jamaica Bay as "so-called restoration!" For Friends of Rockaway I have challenged her and the bureaucrats.

Recently ex-NYCDEP Commissioner Albert F. Appleton, has relented in an environmental report to note that there are objections to making such a "toxic transfer." He is another of the power elite and her partner.

Hey they both have done well – it’s this Rockaway/Jamaica Bay stuff that should irritate the "happy zombie" category of Rockawaites in joining the Editor, Howie Schwach, on greater depths of conspiratorial analysis of among other events a one-dimensional housing boom (no recreational economic balance from waterfront revitalization programs (city/state/federal), crumbling wetland islands in high nitrogen pollution soup, strip-mined habitat (mosquito-weed) where plant eradication has been presented by local government as mosquito eradication, etc.).

Some of the aforementioned information is for review and context of more mosquito control analysis. So it should be noted that Eugenia Flatow was cited by Secretary of State Treadwell as responsible for the NYS Waterfront Revitalization Program (1978-1982). Sprayview has noted that Rockaway obtained the recognizable benefit of federal dollars input the program was produced to obtain.

The Rockaway Irregular’s Column, in touting carbon dioxide baited mosquito traps, etc. sufficiency does not mention that in the "NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program Habitat Workgroup 2001 Status Report" Dubos Point is mentioned as a ‘priority restoration’ site on page 59. And on page 75 on the Jamaica Bay Issues Map (I worked on for Friends of Rockaway, Inc.) – under Potential Habitat Loss – there is the recommendation that "Lot Cleaning and Mosquito Control" (actually should be for mosquito control) should be under "Department of Health Management!" It’s on page 71, and on page 41 Friends of Rockaway, Inc. and myself are listed under Non-Governmental Organizations "For Further Information Contact." Status report available from USEPA or Parks Department.

Well, readership, others of the power elite reportedly come from Connecticut. In the early 1990’s a contingent from that State Department of Environmental Protection at the Harbor Program explained how opening up creeks in wetlands "restores them (from tall reed invasion)" and lowers mosquito numbers too! It has taken almost a decade before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has listed this benefit – "mosquito control" – in its plans for restoring impounded wetlands like Dubos Point!

Note too also the pensive look in last week’s Sprayview column. It was submitted in the caption that hopefully young naturalists and future science teachers would emerge in the future if Dubos Point were better managed. There were plans for an observation boardwalk and educational programs. Bulldozing dirt and trucking it away got far too much emphasis that an idealistic proposal should have never promoted. Were there such needs to strip-mine the obstacles to opening up the creeks as a High Priority (not just a priority) should have been removed long ago. It’s just pathetic……

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