New Visions For Our Urban Park?
The Gateway National Recreation Area, which encompasses Fort Tilden, Riis Park and the Wildlife Sanctuary in Rockaway and Broad Channel, is looking for a new direction that will take the park into the next decades.
The process to develop a new management plan began in the summer of 2009, with open houses and scoping sessions throughout the park’s service area and will end in the fall of 2013, when the plan is announced and implemented by National Park Service officials.
The park service has announced that there are four alternatives under consideration and that the public will have a chance to comment on those alternatives at a series of public meetings.
The meetings that are set for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents will be held at Riis Park on Saturday, August 4 and Friday, August 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
While Alternative A is the baseline alternative in which no changes would be made from the present park plan, the other three alternatives, B, C and D, would make significant changes to how the park would be managed and its interaction with the local community.
Alternative B is called “Discovering Gateway,” and locals who have studied the alternatives say that this would be the best plan for the Rockaway and Broad Channel communities that surround the park.
In its glitzy brochure, NPS says, “Through widespread outreach and improved community connections, Gateway becomes a popular destination for recreation, education and interpretive experiences. By offering a multitude of recreational opportunities, NPS and its partners attract a greater diversity of visitors to the park and increase awareness and enjoyment of Gateway’s historic resources and the natural environment.”
Alternative C is called “Experiencing Preserved Places.” Of this alternative, the NPS says, “Natural systems, historic sites and landscapes receive the highest levels of preservation and restoration in this alternative. Opportunities for independent exploration of Gateway’s fundamental resources and values and participation in environmental education and preservation programs provide for an outstanding national park experience.”
Alternative D is called “Connecting Coastlines.” Of Alternative D, the NPS says, “The broad themes of coastal ecology, coastal defense and coastal recreation link the three park units and their varied resources together. In this alternative, NPS and its partners emphasize waterbased recreation, education and interpretation and create a seamless coastal experience centered on beaches, marine habitats and coastal defense resources and stories.
Little League, CYO Soccer, the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the Rockaway Theatre Company and once housed the RMAC’s summer concert series and Fall Festival, has been moving away from the community and more towards a traditional national park stance.
After studying the three alternatives, those locals have come to the conclusion that Alternative B is the only one that will keep Rockaway in the parks and urge that all youth sports parents and fans of the RAA and RTC attend the August meetings to show Gateway officials how they feel about the community’s involvement with the park.
The management alternatives are shown in Charts A - D.