2004-04-23 / Columnists

On The Bayfront

By Elisa Hinken

There’s lots of news regarding Jamaica Bay this week. First off, March 17 not only meant it was St. Patrick’s Day, but also heralded the beginning of the flounder season. Unlike the Robin who shows up each Spring at just the right time, flounder are quite elusive at the start. Flounder start aggressively feeding when the water temperature reaches the mid to upper 40’s. Then the bite is really on until the Fluke come in. In between fishing for these two bottom feeders, the Stripers and Weakfish make a spring migration for a few weeks of frenzied activity. The bay is really alive and kicking, cleaner than ever.

My daughter and I made it out this past Sunday morning for the a.m. trip aboard "The Angler", a half-day party boat out of Howard Beach. Apparently, everyone loves this boat as much as we do because we arrived thirty minutes prior to departure and the boat was already packed. The beautiful weather of course helped but the hard work of Captains Tony and Ken and the wonderful assistance of the mates Harry and Manny really made a fishing trip on the sheltered waters of Jamaica Bay a wonderful experience – whether one actually caught fish or not! It just so happens that the bite was "on" for most, with the pool winner being a flounder that looked more like the bigger fluke.

The fight for more waterfront recreational access is ongoing. Too bad it isn’t happening in Rockaway. Miles and miles of waterfront is available, yet not one publicly accessible boat launch.

The Southern Queens Park Association has a master plan before the Department of State to develop the north eastern portion of Jamaica Bay buffer by Thurston Basin into a park area/natural area for kayak launching, natural trails and fishing access. They are looking at the old Brookville Project Site, a site previously opposed development for the last two years. This site is situated on with west side of Rockaway Blvd., from the intersection of Brookville Road, north until the airport fence. The heavily traveled road of Rockaway Blvd. is a major Emergency Evacuation Route for the Rockaways, Long Beach, Atlantic Beach and the Five Towns.

This property is proposed for parkland by the New York City Council Waterfront Committee and the resolution of Community Board 13 approving the Port Authority’s new airport lease, which specifically calls for the designation of this property as parkland with restoration, fencing and improvements to be funded within the five year airport lease capital program. 

Samara Swanston will make a presentation on this project at the May 18 meeting of the Jamaica Bay Task Force, being held at Floyd Bennett Field. Also on the agenda are presentations By Gerry Romski of the Beechwood Organization, representing the Arverne-By-The-Sea project and Don Riepe, concerning the Arverne-Edgemere open space preservation project. The Jamaica Bay Task Force isn’t only about the bay, but the Jamaica Bay watershed as well. Mark your calendars and make it a point to attend this important meeting.

Anything that affects Jamaica Bay affects all of us.

If anyone is presently interested in kayaking in Jamaica Bay, they should contact Sebago Canoe Club. They are a volunteer run not for profit with the only non-motorized access into Jamaica Bay at present. They are located in Paerdegat Basin. During the summer (starting first week of June to Labor Day) they offer FREE kayaking every Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. (weather permitting). They will be having guest environmental lecturers on some of the paddles. They should have a complete calendar of events up by the first week of May. Check out the website: www. sebagocanoeclub.org.

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