2003-05-30 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks Stones

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

A quote from the "Newsletter of NYC Citizens Advisory Committee on Environmental Protection April 1983 issue is as follows: "The CEQR (City Environmental Quality Review) lead agencies processed some 350 projects last year of which some 30 required an Environmental Impact Statement. This year the load is rising, some 20 Environmental Impact Statements, have already been filed. In addition the CEQR offices process reviews of Community Development projects under the National Environmental Act (NEPA), under delegation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, another 350 projects last year. To handle these loads, the NYC-DEP Office of Environmental Impact…staff of five……

There is also mention of the need for analysis of the relationship of the CEQR review process to "the City Charter, ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Process for approval of proposals like an Arverne, e.g.) and the City’s Coastal Management program…..consult with the NYC Department of City Planning (NYC/DCP as well as work with NYC/DEP)." There is also mention of the need to relate CEQR with the State Environmental Quality Review Law (SEQR) when CEQR is administered.

It’s also mentioned under The Rockaways at the Coastal Management Committee (May 19, 1983 at National Park Service Offices and chaired by Mr. Alpern), I presented for Friends of Rockaway, Inc., on Dubos Point (aka Mosquito Point and "Shrine of Flies"), Duke Kahanamoku Way surfing beach, and a concrete promenade setback ("Sprayview Promenade") in Edgemere. Frank Papay was there for the Parks Department and it was mentioned that I would guide him at these sites.

So with the cooperation of Community Board #14 Duke Kahanamoku Way (dedication to the Father of American Surfing) came about in 1984 and Dubos Point came about in 1987. The current fencing behind Edgemere and Sprayview Avenues in the vicinity of Duke Kahanamoku Way (formerly Beach 38 Street) is indicative of success in consciousness raising about the fragility of the artificial beach the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers builds there - a sand castle of 1 to 2 years duration. According to experts sea level rise has been about 1 foot since 1900 and this does not do the beach there any good. One-foot rise equals 1000 feet encroachment of the High Tide Line inland.

Note there is also mention that this Citizens Advisory Committee – related to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection mission statement – takes the following positions: "coordinated planning for key waterfront areas, under the State Coastal Management Program and City Waterfront Revitalization Program….inclusion of Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways among the areas specially protected."

So when Anthony Careccia (May 23 issue letter, page 76) expresses dissatisfaction with construction in Rockaway’s coastal zone (not a happy zombie) and others, a lot of what is going on has a background that is bureaucratic and relates to people not caring enough or not having the time……

So in Sprayview’s viewpoint, had the rich mayoralty brought forth a request for proposals for an Oceanview "mixed use" with an actual oceanic recreational economic proposal – in accordance with City and State waterfront guidelines – an "Atlantis" Marine World type proposal, some of it might have been there for waterfront vacations seekers in difficult times. It is possible still but still highly problematic!

So it’s been easier to strip-mine topsoil (stripping away the ecosystem), and believe it or not in 1997 the NYC Department of Environmental Protec­tion bureaucrats, according to the NYC Office of Management and Bud­get indicated there was no completion of Vacant Lot Clean-up Program grants. Yes readership that is 14 years from the CEQR NYSDEP Citizens Advisory Committee mentioned earlier in the column along with State and Federal versions.

Note by letter of November 29, 1991, John J. Doherty (Deputy Commis­sioner, Operations) responded to me for Friends of Rockaway, Inc. "Lot Cleaning’s practice is not to remove the natural organic material found on the lot. It is cut and left onsite" (an excerpt). And the federal agency HUD ‘blames the implementation’ of operations for the strip-mining of the ecosystem in Rockaway and the massive non-return represented that it funds along with the City!

When a complaint was made to Com­missioner of Sanitation, Norman Steisel, about the stripping in Dubos Point along with the removal of a berm barrier, his 1984 response included as follows: "The efforts of the Friends of Rock­away are noteworthy and I encourage and applaud them." Whether intended as perfunctory deception by the drafter of the reply, or not, the advice was pathetic in light of that local government agency’s (in ad­visory capacity) coordination and cooperation with the strip-mining of an ecosystem - a skinning of the Earth – so to speak

So more Friends of Rockaway, in ac­tion, will be needed to shore up the low level of consciousness in the bureaucracies and officialdom such that according to the CAC recommendation in 1983 (2 decades ago) "Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways have to be "specially protected"!

Hey it’s never too late………Hopefully Jamaica bay’s Dubos Point and the wetland islands will be "restored", the Idlewild Storm Sewer will get a "retention basin as for Flushing Bay storm sewerage, and Rockaway will get ap­propriate waterfront revitalization (with a miniature golf course in an Atlantis type proposal), and sufficient conservation of its herbs, shrubs, and trees……

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