2003-12-05 / Editorial/Opinion

Leave Our Borrow Pits Alone

Leave Our Borrow Pits Alone

Rockaway is on a roll. Arverne By The Sea seems to be, at least at first glow, a success that will assist in the revitalization of Rockaway. Businesses are beginning to talk about relocating on the peninsula. Every empty lot will soon be a new home. A school reorganization plan promises to keep the brightest students on the peninsula, where they belong. There is still talk of a commuter ferry service that would make it easier to get to jobs in Manhattan. Groundbreaking for a new Addabbo Family Health Center will soon take place. Why then, when Rockaway seems to be on the rebound from decades of decay and neglect, does the Army Corps of Engineers and the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation want to destroy one of Rockaway’s major ecological attractions – Jamaica Bay. We understand that government has a problem. It has all this toxic sludge that it dredged from the bottom of New York Harbor in an attempt to keep the harbor open to large ships, and it has no place to put it. At one time, the feds put the toxic sludge in the ocean, but the environmentalists quickly put an end to that. What to do with the sludge? Put it in Rockaway, they won’t care. At the bottom of the east end of Jamaica Bay, off the shore of Bayswater, there are huge pits, called "borrow pits," because the sand was borrowed to extend the runways at JFK Airport. The feds say that they are basically dead spots and can be filled with the toxic sludge and then capped with no danger to the ecology. Environmentalists, however, argue that the pits are not dead zones, which are teeming with life. A videotape taken last year in the pits seems to bear that out. A decision on the plan to dump the sludge in the bay is due sometime in the next week. That decision could have a great effect on life in the bay and therefore on Rockaway. We urge our local politicians to get busy and kill the plan once again. The last thing Rockaway needs is a dose of toxic sludge.

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