2014-06-20 / Columnists


An Open Letter To Congressman Meeks
By Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance

Dear Congressman Meeks,

This past week, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Department of Interior announced their awards for the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants. One critical region that was hit hard by storm Sandy was left out. The Rockaways. Not one grant was awarded for the protection of our 11 mile long peninsula. Essentially "the" barrier island that protects the rest of New York City.

I know of many organizations that submitted competitive applications for the Rockaways and yet the NYC DPR application for restoration of Sunset Cove in Broad Channel and NYC DEP's oyster gardening project on Jamaica Bay seems to be the only grant awards for our area. I was very glad to hear that Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and American Littoral Society will be involved in these projects as it is essential in involving the youth and the community in some of the plantings. However, I am still very surprised given the fact that while oysters and filter feeders will help to clean the water they will certainly not offer any solutions to protecting residents from future storms which is what the funding was intended for.

I would ask that you follow up with the NFWF to let them know the importance of the Rockaway Peninsula as a protective buffer for NYC, JFK airport and other essential infrastructure for our city. There were hundreds of millions of dollars available through this RFP and it is disappointing that the Rockaways- New York City's only barrier island- was not considered for any of this funding.

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