Arverne Town Hall Meeting Addresses Mosquito Problem
Councilman James Sanders, Jr. convened a well-attended Town Hall on the serious mosquito infestation in the Arverne, Edgemere, and Far Rockaway communities. "We must ensure that the City is doing everything possible to address this problem that causes serious health concerns and reduces the quality of life for Rockaway residents."
The Town Hall was co-sponsored by Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, State Senator Malcolm A. Smith and Assemblywoman Michelle Titus. Numerous complaints have been coming in to the offices of all of the elected officials representing the Arverne, Edgemere, and Far Rockaway communities
Despite the fact that the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sprayed the entire peninsula on Sunday evening, the participants at the meeting indicated that they see no change in the large numbers of attacking mosquitoes in the community.
Representatives from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, led by Assistant Commissioner James Gibson, and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, led by Deputy Commissioner Liam Cavanagh, presented information to the community on what can and cannot be done to address this problem.
The representatives tried to answer the questions of residents. Residents called for the release of more detailed information regarding the testing of dead birds for the West Nile Virus. They called for improved maintenance and increased capacity for the mosquito magnets and expressed concern for the standing water prevalent on the streets throughout Rockaway. Concerns were also expressed about the effects of both the mosquitoes and pesticide spraying on those residents with compromised immune systems.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was unable to attend. They were to give a status report on a proposed project that will restore the flow of the saltwater marshes in a Jamaica Bay habitat restoration project that will be of significant help in reducing the mosquito infestation at Dubos Point, Bayswater State Park and Brant Point.
Sanders concluded the meeting with a discussion on follow-up issues. The Department of Environmental Conservation will be enlisted in the effort on mosquito reduction. A study of the effectiveness of the mosquito magnet program will be requested. An initiative to purchase mosquito magnets for homeowners in the areas with the worst infestation will be explored. Expediting the project that will open the flow of the salt-water marshes will be explored with federal officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Assemblywoman Titus spoke on the value of the community joining forces on this issue. The support of Senator Smith and Congressman Meeks for further action on this issue was expressed by their representatives.
Sanders feels that inability of the residents to go outdoors during the evening hours for fear of the large numbers of attacking mosquitoes particularly in Arverne and the surrounding areas is a problem that needs an aggressive solution and the involvement and action of the entire community.