It’s A Recreation Area And It’s Yours
A lot of people live in Rockaway because of the beach. And we know it’s not just a beach. The light at certain times of day, the fresh air and openness of a place so close to the city and even the sand, which comes and goes has a special graininess that other beaches can’t touch.
Few people live here because of the bay, however. Other than for a handful of people (who we would call lucky – failing bulkheads is a story for another day) Jamaica Bay is just a scenic afterthought. You get a glance at it coming over one of the bridges; you sometimes get to enjoy it from a bayside restaurant. But for many of us, it’s out of sight, out of mind – and it shouldn’t be.
Of course, the Army Corps and the National Park Service should do what they can to offer protection but that doesn’t mean 20 foot walls. There is an assortment of green and gray infrastructure measures that can be applied without making the bay inaccessible.
The bold idea was, when Gateway was born in the early 1970s, to bring national parks closer to people in urban areas. Problem is, it’s close but still out of reach.
You might not fish, boat, or swim. And that’s fine, you might have little reason to get on the water but there’s more to this recreation, repeat, recreation area. The bay can offer more opportunities for biking, hiking, camping, birding, art and educational exhibits, festivals, and so on. And it so happens, the bay offers a longer recreational season than the beachside.
The new leadership at Gateway is showing hopeful signs. A great art show is in the works for Fort Tilden. That will draw people who might then be curious about the rest of the peninsula. And many of those people will come by ferry via the Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay.
A vibrant Jamaica Bay will draw people and greater attention to Rockaway’s potential. Good things can happen.
So look out your back door. Start letting your elected reps know you care about your own backyard.