2003-05-23 / Front Page

No Gateway Jet Skis This Summer

By Brian Magoolaghan
No Gateway Jet Skis This Summer

No Gateway Jet Skis This Summer
By Brian Magoolaghan

Jet Skis will not be allowed in Gateway waters this season, and, whether you think that's good or bad, it's time to share your thoughts with the National Parks Service (NPS).

Gateway and NPS officials are now considering a special regulation that would allow the use of jet skis and other personal watercraft (PWC) in the waters surrounding the National Recreational Area.

NPS officials recently released an environmental assessment on the impact of PWC's on Jamaica Bay, and are now seeking public comment.

"This is an important first step," said Gateway Acting General Superintendent Billy G. Garrett. However, a resolution will take four to six months, he said.

"That pretty much eats up the season," said Gateway Chief Ranger Jose Rosario.

Local PWC owners, particularly those living on the Broad Channel canals, have been staring at their crafts since the NPS prohibited them early last year. The ban plucked the zippy, wake-jumping sea scooters from nearly all of Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn and Queens, the waters bordering Staten Island, and Sandy Hook, N.J.

Although a narrow stretch of the bay, parallel to Beach Channel Drive, escaped the ban because it's not owned by Gateway, it is virtually inaccessible now that the Beach Channel High School boat ramp is closed.

The NPS is considering four alternatives of PWC regulation which range from very light restriction, to continuing the ban. But the NPS recognizes that its mission is to preserve and protect resources while allowing people to enjoy them-even if that enjoyment includes the use of PWCs.

Rosario said the most likely, and "environmentally preferred" alternative is one which would: 1) Prohibit launching from Gateway land 2) Restrict use to North Channel, Beach Channel, Grass Hassock Channel, Rockaway Inlet, and Broad Channel to the trestle bridge 3) Require that PWC users in adjacent waters access the permissible areas by following a buoyed path, or a "most direct route" 4) Prohibit use in all waters along Breezy Point 5) Establish a 150 foot boundary around all protected areas within Jamaica Bay, even if they exist within a channel.

Rosario said the NPS will be moving toward this compromise unless there is strong feedback at either end of the debate.

A copy of the environmental assessment can be viewed on the Internet at www.nps.gov/gate, or by calling 718-354-4606.

Comments should be sent to: General Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area, 210 New York Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10305.

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