2013-11-15 / Editorial/Opinion

Resiliency Center Should Look No Further

A new idea came our way, courtesy of Community Board 14 member Hank Iori, that makes great sense.

The National Grid lot on Beach 108th Street is now being used for ferry parking. Yes, it should be kept for ferry parking but there’s plenty of room for more. Here’s the idea – it should be home to the Science and Resiliency Institute – a top tier research center that will be using Jamaica Bay as a laboratory of sorts and be promoting “the understanding of resilience in the urban ecosystem and adjacent communities.”

The institute is a consortium of academic institutions, non-profits, and other entities such as the Rockefeller Foundation, City Parks, the National Park Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers. The consortium is led by CUNY which will team with other academic institutions to build a cutting edge research center. They plan to host visiting scientists from around the world, provide lab facilities, and hold events with experts from various fields. The Institute seeks to be a model for other resilience initiatives around the globe.

By all descriptions, it will be a big deal. But they’ve got one challenge already: where to put the place.

Well, resiliency step number one should be building the institute at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive. It would be perfect for its bay front location, looking out on the bay it seeks to protect. It is a perfect midpoint between Floyd Bennett Field and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. It would be perfect for students, researchers, and other visitors to get here by public transportation using the A line or the ferry.

Furthermore, it would be just a short walk to the ocean. While much of the focus will be on the bay, the ocean obviously can’t be ignored in any resiliency project. Floyd Bennett Field and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge don’t offer the transportation options of Beach 108th Street and don’t offer the ocean access.

It makes sense for the Science and Resiliency Institute. And it makes sense for Rockaway which would be gaining a world class institute. The ferry would have a better chance to become permanent once and for all and there’d be a good reason to start a JFK ferry so that international scientists and visitors could come straight from the airport.

And the site is a brownfield – which is the term given to land previously used for industrial purposes and often have levels of contamination. The site has been remediated and is just waiting for something like the Institute. How great would it be to transform a brownfield into a Resiliency center?! It would be a soaring demonstration and symbol of making the environment more friendly.

As soon as it’s announced, we’ll remind the institute to hire locals.

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