2012-12-21 / Community

Wood Burning Set For Floyd Bennett Field

By Howard Schwach

An air monitoring system has already been set up in front of St. Rose of Lima Church at Beach 84 Street. An air monitoring system has already been set up in front of St. Rose of Lima Church at Beach 84 Street. There it sits on an unused runway at Floyd Bennett Field, 750,000 cubic yards of wood debris from more than 15,000 trees that were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Nobody seems to want the mangled wood. “You can’t cart it away because nobody wants it,” says Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska. “There are no takers.”

The National Park Service, which runs Gateway National Recreation Area and the old airfield wants to get rid of it prior to March, when the Japanese Beetles strike and will not only devastate the wood, but all the other trees in the national park as well.

What to do?

The city and the Army Corps of Engineers want to burn it all over the next two months, using three burners that will operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day. “We had a trial run a few weeks ago, and it worked well. The burners take the ash and smoke generated by the burning and pull it back into the burner,” an official said. “There are no ecological concerns.”

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder wants more t“Protection for Rockaway residents is the key,” Goldfeder said. “This is a done deal whether I like it or not. All that I can do is get the information we need to keep us safe, that there are protections in place. We want air quality tests and we want early warnings when something goes wrong.”

To insure that Rockaway and Brooklyn are not impacted by material from the burner, two monitoring stations have been set up in Rockaway, one at PS 114 on Beach 135 Street and the other at the St. Rose of Lima Church on Beach 84 Street. There will also be notification to local politicians and the community board should the particulates in the air become excessive.

Locals expressed some concern over the fact that an national park is being used for the burn and that local communities would be impacted by the longterm burning program.

City officials, who are awaiting a state waiver to begin the burn, say that it is the safest, most cost-effective way to get rid of the unwanted wood.

Officials expect the waiver within the next week.

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