2008-04-25 / Top Stories

Choice For Gateway:More Ecology,Less Development

By Howard Schwach

Two artists' renditions from the proposed plan to redevelop Floyd Bennett Field, a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Two artists' renditions from the proposed plan to redevelop Floyd Bennett Field, a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The people have spoken on what they want to see for the development of Gateway National Recreation Area, and what they want is less development and more "open space."

In fact, 78 percent of the nearly 2,000 people who voted on a redesign plan for the national park said that they wanted a plan called "Reassembling Ecologies," which focuses on centralizing "human use in one area" of the Floyd Bennett Field sector of the sprawling park, while the rest of the site "returns to its wild state."

It includes a core recreation area, probably centering on the present Aviator Sports complex and the Ryan Visitors Center, and an elevated viewing platform where visitors can view the wilderness.

The public vote was part of an ongoing program called "Envisioning Gateway," which has been in progress for more that a year.

More than 100 submissions were sent to the National Parks Conservation Association NPCA), which drafted a panel of experts to narrow the number down to 10 finalists.

From the 10, the panel chose the one plan they liked the best, entitled, "Mapping the Ecotone," a plan focused on reintroducing water to the park and enhancing a visitor's experience of tidal movement.

The top plans were then submitted for public review on the organization's website, but only 20 percent of the public votes were cast for the panel's favorite.

There are some who are not happy with the proposed plan most favored by the public, however.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who favors recreational development in the park, told The Wave that the entire process, funded by Tiffany's is "elitist and Manhattan-centrist."

He wants more development in the park along the lines of the Aviator Sports complex, with its hockey and ice-skating rinks, basketball courts and gymnasiums.

The NPCA says that it will partner with the Regional Plan Association to present both the public's input and the winning design to the National Park Service for its inclusion in the next planning phase of Gateway's General Management Plan, which is set for early in 2009.

The former municipal airport and Naval Air Station may soon see a major change in emphasis. The former municipal airport and Naval Air Station may soon see a major change in emphasis. A Gateway spokesperson said that the agency would look closely at the plan, but that they are under no obligation to implement all or part of the proposal.

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