2003-07-18 / Community

State Will Provide $350G For Park Projects

State Will Provide $350G For Park Projects

State Senator Malcolm A. Smith has announced that he secured a total of $350,000 in funding to be dedicated to two environmental benefit projects (EBPs) within his District. The initiatives will increase natural resource awareness and access for local residents and support projects to restore wetlands in the region.

"I’d like to thank the Governor and ExCon Commissioner Erin Crotty for their commitment to clean environmental projects," Smith said. "Awarding of a grant to both the Flushing Meadow Park Conservatory and the Idlewild Park Preservation Committee gives a clear example of how government makes polluters recycle their infractions to serve the public good."

"The initiatives made possible by this funding will foster natural resource awareness and simultaneously provide immediate benefits to this vital ecosystem," Commissioner Crotty said. "Jamaica Bay is one of New York State’s most important waterways and it is critical that we expand our efforts to improve the health of the watershed. At the same time, we will continue to support measures like these that increase public access to the magnificent natural resources of this region, and those found throughout New York State."

This announcement includes $340,000 to be dedicated to the Eastern Queens Alliance, Idlewild Park Preservation Committee for use in a large wetlands restoration project that will include the construction of an environmental center and trail system designed to increase public access to this natural resource area. The project is currently in the development phase, but total cost for the completion of the project is estimated to be approximately $2 million. The area is primarily made up of salt marsh, with an upland area maintained by the New York City Parks Department.

In January 2001, 100 acres of wetland were designated as parkland and became part of Idlewild Park. The wetlands of Idlewild Park form a natural drainage outlet for Queens south of the Grand Central Parkway, draining out into Jamaica Bay.

The park is adjacent to John F. Kennedy Airport, serving as a buffer between the Rosedale community and the airport. The park also lies next to Rockaway Boulevard, Springfield Boulevard and 149 Avenue. One of the stated goals of the wetlands restoration project is the collection and analysis of air quality data for use in decisions designed to minimize the impacts of truck and aircraft omissions on the park and surrounding community.

In addition, the Flushing Meadow Park Conservancy will receive $10,000 to be used to promote use of the park’s bike path. Funding provided will assist in the development of signage in the complex. The goal of the project is to encourage people to use alternate transportation around the facility, which would result in a reduction of vehicle traffic and tailpipe emissions in the immediate area.

Funding for the two projects was made available through a consent order issued in January 2003 by DEC to the New York Power Authority. The funds were allocated to the Natural Heritage Trust, which entered into an agreement to distribute the funds for the EBPs Wetlands restoration and increasing public access to natural resources are within the specific goals of DEC’s EBP program.

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