2003-08-29 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks Stones

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


Vincent S. Castellano (co-chair of the Economic Develop­ment Review Committee on the HPD Arverne/Edgemere plans) reg­ards Steve Cooper (President of the Frank Avenue Civics As­soc­iation) skeptically as Steve questions consultant Gerry Wall about reductions in green openspace the plans entail. Oceanview’s 116 acres is down to 59 for the rabbits, pheasant, butterflies and the rest of ‘the creation” give or take a mosquito or a zillion unless “tidal flow restoration” is finally funded.Vincent S. Castellano (co-chair of the Economic Develop­ment Review Committee on the HPD Arverne/Edgemere plans) reg­ards Steve Cooper (President of the Frank Avenue Civics As­soc­iation) skeptically as Steve questions consultant Gerry Wall about reductions in green openspace the plans entail. Oceanview’s 116 acres is down to 59 for the rabbits, pheasant, butterflies and the rest of ‘the creation” give or take a mosquito or a zillion unless “tidal flow restoration” is finally funded.

It’s the Twilight Zone for The Outer Limits of the mosquito wars. But there is no vertical nor horizontal THEY control. YOU readership just connect the dots…

So after one of my rants over Sanitation Department bulldozing topsoil and living vegetation (habitat) – way in the past – Vincent S. Castellano (Chair of the Community Board 14 Economic Development Committee) asked me (at the podium) whether I thought that any of the $64 million dollars that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent to NYC for vacant lot cleaning (a portion of which goes to Rockaway operations) – 1992-1997 – goes to Rockaway people (as best recalled). Naturally the answer was no. But who would ever ‘imagine that’ when the issue has been the disappearance of this topsoil/living vegetation (refuse or none) with those fund portions "paid to execute" (and gratis to landowners site preparation needs for development).

Now for a democracy to function there has to be such free exchange of information. But there also ‘has to be follow through’ once communication has been achieved. Did the Community Board, local government of NYC, ever research the information provided for a public statement on this style of site preparation (also land management style by NYC Housing Preservation and Development (NYCHPD)?

Both the Consultant’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the spraying of adult mosquitoes ‘alternatives’ and another Consultant’s EIS for the HPD Arverne/Edgemere shoreline proposal ignores the existence of this HUD funded (with lesser municipal) habitat alteration NYC Sanitation Department operation. Does it exist? Did it ever exist?

And when this Community Board was performing a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) on the NYC Waterfront Revitalization Program (includes Rockaway URAS), Mr. Castellano (as best recalled) wished to have a copy of my Friends of Rockaway testimony before it would be allowed to be delivered. It was long ago and whether delivered or not it appeared rather undemocratic. It was long ago and whether delivered or not it appeared rather undemocratic (and no more depressing than the Community Board’s placement of public speaking time at the end of monthly meetings – thus not interfering Board Business with useful information the public often has to offer as required in a functioning democracy). The Board process never gives the impression it hungers for public input anyway. What an awful public outreach attitude over the years and which dissuades against attendance but for high profile issues.

So under the circumstances… golf course planning and all so important for consultancy… it proved more important to move on with monitoring of the federal NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program (NYNJHEP) and discover the domain of the all-powerful ‘interlocking directorate operation’ of Eugenia Flatow. She has worked at HPD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and she lobbies many politicians and government agencies (is also effective in connecting programs). But as Co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the NYNJHEP, Director of the Soil and Water Conservation District, and Director of the Jamaica Bay Task Force, she has not permitted a Friends of Rockaway presentation on the HUD operation in the context of mosquito control by "Tidal Flow Restoration."

So then Newsday recently places a "reverse spin" (so to speak) on the whole mosquito wars scene at Dubos Point Wetlands Restoration Park and its "forever wild" mosquitoes in Arverne (August 7, page 17 article). So we learn that the Parks Department is miffed by the mosquito swarm situation that with newfound solidarity with the public it is pushing for listing Dubos Point in an Army Corps program for this newfangled "tidal flow restoration" stuff…

Well actually I convinced Corps scientists already to plan tidal flow restorations at the creeks there and in reality the Parks Department has been a ‘major obstacle’ to the solution to too many mosquitoes to bear in one swamp in Queens in NYC! If the readership types in "topsoil" or my name in a web site search engine, there is more background.

So will there be a discovery that failure to research a HUD and municipal funded "Mosquito-Weed" Community Board #14 coordinated Sanitation Department bulldozing away of topsoil/vegetation – as substitute for tidal flow restoration – ‘maintained’ this local problem? Wouldn’t the world be drowning in mosquitoes should Rockaway ‘complexities" be duplicated globally?

Will it be discovered that funds are available from New York State and the federal government? So need there be more public outcries and meetings? So when Mr. Castellano regards Stephen Cooper (President of the Frank Avenue Civics) - at one of the Board’s Arverne/Edgemere HPD Proposal EIS review meetings – he must note a ‘unique’ Board member who opposed the absurd bulldozing substitution and who has championed green open space preservation. Mr. Castellano is champ­ioning sardine can development for Rockaway (as is his right), and hopefully in implementation beneficial changes will take place...


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