2007-07-13 / Columnists

It's My Turn

'The Passion Pit' And What Can Be Done To Clean It Up
By Henrick A. Karoliszyn

By Henrick A. Karoliszyn

Henrick A. Karoliszyn is a local freelance writer who loves to surf and once wrote a surfing column for The Wave. He often stops by the area at the foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge, which connects Rockaway to the mainland of Queens.

I decided to roll to the Howard Beach Bridge to relax on Friday. The sun was fizzling and people were all over the area - some in reclining chairs, others with fishing poles, the rest walking, eating and drinking. The small place near the bridge, also known as "The Passion Pits," is infamous for drug use, boozing and sexual activity. But it was relatively early and when I ventured where sand meets Jamaica Bay I was astounded by other things.

Ridiculous mounds of garbage were everywhere. Near trees, strung along the beach and in the general vicinity, were piles of cluttered junk. The unmistakable stench began to drift in the air as I edged closer to the sand. Colorful debris - flags, half-soaked yoga books, plastic containers, ceramic shells, and all types of blankets - laced the beach, and all I kept thinking about was why this potentially beautiful place was so ugly.

Riddled with unsightly garbage, it was like a tornado had spewed waste everywhere. I could not help thinking, as a Broad Channel citizen, how toxic this could be to our waters and in essence, to our health as a community. This trash (i.e. baby bottles, needles, condoms, etc.) was in plain sight. These things inevitably affect where we swim, boat and live off Jamaica Bay. This problem, with great ferocity, infects the area like a disease that will keep destroying the waters endlessly if we don't take a stand.

While I watched birds fighting over noxious rubbish, I realized this is more than an environmental issue. This is a moral issue that involves humanity as a whole.

How can we ethically let birds die if we can stop it? While thinking about this, I watched other people stomping around with indifference, though we, as citizens, should not act the same way. This pollution of our natural habitat where birds, fish and other wildlife dwell will increase exponentially if we see no end to this. It is not fair to the setting and it is crude for us as a people to let our land be disrespected. Any laxity will prove harmful and detrimental to our beautiful landscape; action must be taken. Instead of having three police cars along Cross Bay Boulevard checking people's speeds every few weeks, especially at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge traffic light, there should instead be at least one police car monitoring the Passion Pits.

This would secure the ground's safety from illegal activities, while ticketing anyone who litters the grounds. This is what we need: a few cops to patrol the area for shady behavior, while being stringent on polluters and disrespectful fools who ruin the landscape.

To enact such a plan, I was told I had to contact Councilman Joseph Addabbo. But after many failed attempts to reach him, I am hoping this does. Also, as a community we should bind together to extinguish this fire of crudeness. We must not let a small sector of goons disrupt the natural habitat. By all means, we have every right to demand this security for our citizens as well as our wildlife.

Anyone willing to help enact such a plan should contact me. Send an e-mail to HenrLck@aol.com . If I get enough supporters, I'll start an online petition so we can seriously change this illness in the community. As a citizen of Broad Channel, I believe we not only can, but will, beat this menace and can successfully erect laws in our favor.

This can't go on much longer, or else we'll all suffer. This is a serious quest, and I hope that many others agree and will join me in that quest.

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The State Park Police patrol these lots on a regular basis, albeit sporadically. They even write tickets for all sorts of activity. Be it car inspection/registration violations, illegal activity, which may include littering, when "caught-in-the-act". But even with their sporadic presence, I don't think they can do much to prevent the sheer amount of filth that piles up onto this small amount of shoreline, once their back is turned. And who's going to clean it up?

I've personally witnessed many religious rituals take place at these locations. Many of these rituals end with individuals plainly "dumping" large amounts of fruit, flowers and other ceremonial items right onto the shoreline or into the water. Sometimes, even the bags that were used to carry the "waste" to shore is left along with the offerings. Now I'm fully aware that freedom of religion is tolerated in our country, but pollution? C'mon now.

To me, the only viable solution to the problem would be to close these parking lots permanently. But that might be extreme. And I doubt, as this area is State Park Property, that this kind of retribution would ever take place.

But this little problem is hardly new. The area surrounding the pits, near the foot of the bridge, has recently been given a facelift. The weedy areas adjacent to the parking spots have been mowed and opened up to accommodate more picnickers and sunbathers. Over the years, the pollution problem has only gotten worse with increase of use.

It's too bad, too. It's a beautiful spot with terrific views of the city, JFK, sunrises and sunsets, while overlooking the natural beauty of Jamaica bay. Having abusive vistors ruin such a spot can only ruin it for the rest of us. The same could also be said about the fishermen on the bridge.

Given the pits' reputation, it's a wonder how this activity can continue and go relatively unmonitored in an area that's already a highly-sensitive ecological habitat that sits right next door to Wildlife Refuge, mind you.

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