TWA Hotel donates lots of sand to Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Jamaica Bay shoreline
The sand donation will aid the Spring Creek South Storm Resilience and Ecosystem Restoration Project.
By Kristin Toussaint Published : January 14, 2019 in Metro NY
More than six years on, New York City is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, but now, one restoration project in the works has received a special donation of sand for the Jamaica Bay shoreline.
MCR and MORSE Development, the hotel operator behind the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport, has donated 74,000 cubic feet of sand to the National Park Service to benefit the Spring Creek South Storm Resilience and Ecosystem Restoration Project.
That project will create a protective berm, or raised barrier, that will stabilize the Jamaica Bay shoreline, protect Howard Beach from storm damage and flooding, and restore the native habitat to Spring Creek Park, a wildlife refuge in the Gateway National Recreation Area.
The bundle of clean sand, which TWA Hotel called a “special delivery” to Queens, is worth $5 million, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said in a statement.
“Spring Creek Park is an ideal destination for those who love nature, but it also has the potential to be the borough’s first line of defense against storms that threaten to flood surrounding communities,” she said. The donation “will both save taxpayers money and go a long way toward making the TWA Hotel’s home borough more resilient in the face of future storms.”
The sand was excavated from the site of the TWA Hotel, which is set to open in spring of 2019, to make way for the hotel’s 50,000-square-foot events center.
The Spring Creek South Storm Resilience and Ecosystem Restoration Project has been much anticipated to better protect that area, said Alex Zablocki, executive director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
The conservancy isn’t directly involved with the project (which is managed by the National Park Service) but members have spoken with the National Park Service and other partners about it. The project will restore more than 225 acres of wetland and coastal forest.
“As we face increased threats from climate change and sea level rise, projects that utilize natural areas to protect shoreline neighborhoods while balancing the needs of our delicate ecosystems is key to ensuring resilient parks and communities,” Zablocki said in an email.
“The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy is grateful for the sizable donation of 74,000 cubic feet of sand for this project by TWA Hotel,” he added. “Partnerships like these are critical in balancing the commercial use of Jamaica Bay with the unique urban natural areas within it.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation a $69.1 million Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the project. The project will begin construction as soon as FEMA provides approval.
Here's How the Government Shutdown Is Affecting NYC
Here's what closed in NYC during the government shutdown, plus the people stepping up to keep our national parks clean and how businesses could be affected.
By Eva Kis Published : January 11, 2019 in Metro NY
With no end in sight to the government shutdown after more than two weeks, the effects continue to ripple out of Washington D.C. into the lives of people across the country. In New York City, that means closed attractions, volunteers picking up the slack in national parks, and changes that could affect local businesses’ plans for the future.
What’s closed in NYC during the government shutdown?
The government shutdown could hurt the city’s tourism, which has had an eight-year streak of record numbers with 62.8 million visitors in 2017 (the numbers for 2018 have not yet been released). TSA agents are calling out “sick” or even quitting, which could make air travel to New York City more cumbersome and potentially less safe.
So getting to New York is more difficult, but people will also find the following federally managed memorials and landmarks closed to the public while the National Park Service and Smithsonian remain unfunded:
African Burial Ground: Largest Colonial-era cemetery for slaves and free African Americans
Cooper Hewitt Design Museum: A Smithsonian museum about the process and impact of design, past and present
Federal Hall: The site where George Washington was inaugurated as president (you can still take selfies with his statue on the steps)
General Grant National Memorial: The tomb of 18th President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia
Hamilton Grange: The Harlem home of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler was built in 1802
Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace: The 26th president was born at this home and lived there until age 14
National Museum of the American Indian: A Smithsonian museum showcasing Native Americans artifacts and modern art
The major exceptions to the shutdown are the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Castle Clinton, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration stepped in to keep open. The state is paying $65,000 per day to fully fund operations and pay the 900 staff who work at the sites, as it did during previous shutdowns in 2013 and 2018. Liberty Island alone receives 4.5 million visitors annually who spend $263.2 million, according to a 2016 study by the Park Service. “We will not allow President Trump's repugnant symbol of division close the true representations of who we are as a state and a nation,” Cuomo said.
After the holidays is typically a slower time for tourism in New York, which is when the city’s marketing bureau NYC & Company holds promotions like Broadway Week and Must-See Week, when dozens of popular attractions offer 2-for-1 tickets from Jan. 21-Feb. 10. One of the sites lined up to participate is the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, but it’s closed as long as the shutdown goes on because it’s owned by the Smithsonian that receives 70% of its funding from the federal government.
“We are disappointed that not everything is open, but we would be more disappointed if the Statue of Liberty were closed,” says Chris Heywood of NYC & Company. “We will be watching it closely, and the longer it continues the more it creates concerns for us.”
Stepping up to keep national parks clean
Like other national parks, the 27,000-acre Gateway National Recreation Area that spans Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island remains open during the shutdown but National Park Service staff are furloughed, restrooms and facilities are closed, and there’s no trash collection or road maintenance. The site includes the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fort Tilden, Jacob Riis Park, Floyd Bennett Field, Plumb Beach and Canarsie Pier.
The Jamaica Bay Rockaway Parks Conservancy, a public-private partnership founded in 2013 that works to improve city and national parkland, holds regular cleanups, most recently on Jan. 6 at Plumb Beach and the Jamaica Bay Greenway. The area tends to see a fair amount of trash even during the winter months because of the Belt Parkway and debris that floats in from Jamaica Bay.
“The park has not seen any cleaning services for quite some time,” says Alex Zablocki, executive director of the conservancy. “We had always planned on doing this, but it was really special to have everyone out on a day when the park really needed our help.”
Volunteers picked up trash that had washed up on the beach and been discarded along the freeway as usual, but also took the unusual step of emptying out overflowing garbage bins on Canarsie Pier and the nearby parking lot. And they weren’t alone this time: NYC Parks & Recreation also helped with collection and brought a dump truck to haul it away. “I would say out of all the parks, Canarsie Pier is the busiest during this season; we saw a lot of fishermen out there and families using the park,” he says. “The public is still welcome to utilize the park at their discretion.”
Thankfully, Zablocki’s team didn’t see any vandalism like what’s been reported at Yellowstone and Joshua Tree national parks, where people have cut down trees and gone off-roading in restricted areas. He asks Gateway visitors to take trash with them when they go while the shutdown lasts.
Another cleanup is set for Feb. 2, which is also World Wetlands Day. And after the current crisis is resolved, Zablocki hopes to create a better plan for the next shutdown. “If this were during the summertime, we would see thousands of users in our parks, and we certainly don’t want to rob the public of these great amenities and open spaces,” he says. “It’s something that we’ll look at after the shutdown with our partners at the National Park Service and the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation so we’re prepared next time.”
Future effects of the shutdown
While attractions will reopen and volunteers can help mitigate the damage to parks, New York businesses stand to be affected in the long term. Various Trump administration policies have been weighing on the craft beer business, including higher tariffs leading to more expensive aluminum for cans. Now because of the shutdown, breweries can’t sign new leases or get approval for new labels because the Treasury Department is closed, the New York Times reports.
Transmitter Brewing in Queens is in the process of moving to a larger facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but those plans are on hold because they can’t get approval for their new lease. “We’re a small business, and it could potentially ruin us,” one of the brewery’s founders Rob Kolb tells the Times.
For more information, visit: https://www.metro.us/things-to-do/new-york/government-shutdown-nyc-what-you-need-to-know
ELEVEN BURNED CARS REMOVED FROM MARINE PARK
Part of a larger restoration effort in the Brooklyn Park
[Brooklyn, NY, December 13, 2018] Eleven burned cars were removed from the 133-acre natural area of Marine Park in Brooklyn this week. The cars were removed as part of an ongoing trail and natural habitat restoration project taking place in the Park, Brooklyn’s largest at over 800 acres.
The cars were removed by the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC), a non-profit partner of NYC Parks. The work was made possible by a grant from The Nature Conservancy and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) to improve the park through a series of native tree and shrub plantings and trail improvements.
“Marine Park is one of only two locations in all of New York City that contains what is known as a coastal maritime forest,” said Sarah Charlop-Powers, Executive Director of the NAC. “Maritime forests provide habitat for rare native plant species, as well as an array of native animals and birds. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to help restore and protect this beautiful natural space, and grateful to our partners for their support,” Ms. Charlop-Powers said
“Through a multi-year partnership with the Natural Areas Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy and NYC Parks, we are literally uncovering the natural beauty of Marine Park. As Brooklyn’s largest park, Marine Park hosts both recreational and natural areas. Over the decades, these areas have fallen victim to illegal dumping and overgrowth of invasive plants,” Alex Zablocki, Executive Director of JBRPC said. “Past work at the park has included removal of invasive plants, and planting of native shrubs and trees. Parks should be enjoyed for their natural beauty, and we are proud to partner with these fine organizations on the latest improvements to the park by removing eleven abandoned cars from the natural areas of Marine Park,” Zablocki concluded.
“It takes a team to do the heavy lifting for nature, and removing abandoned vehicles from Marine Park embodies that sentiment quite literally,” said Emily Nobel Maxwell, NYC Program Director for The Nature Conservancy in New York. “We are proud to partner with the Natural Areas Conservancy and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Park Conservancy on our concerted efforts to restore Marine Park as a space for all New Yorkers to enjoy and connect with nature.”
The oldest vehicle removed this week had Florida license plates dated 1990, while the newest was a 2017 Dodge van burned on December 11, 2018.
Created in 2012, the Natural Areas Conservancy is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with NYC Parks to improve New York City’s 10,000 acres of forest, marshes and wetlands to enhance the lives of all New Yorkers. www.naturalareasnyc.org
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) is a public-private partnership established in
2013 that is dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula for local residents and visitors alike. With its partners at the National Park Service and NYC Parks, JBRPC works to expand public access; Increase recreational and educational opportunities; Foster citizen stewardship and volunteerism; Preserve and restore natural areas, including wetland and wildlife habitat; Enhance cultural resources; And ensure the long-term sustainability of the parklands, including the development of the Science and Resilience Institute. www.jbrpc.org
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
Volunteers Unite To Protect The Piping Plover
As published in the The Wave | on December 06, 2018
By Ray Vann
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy was hard at work making the peninsula’s shorelines more habitable for the protected piping plovers on Dec. 1.
JBRPC members partnered with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the US Customs and Border Control Explorers Program, students from Stuyvesant High School, and Bloomberg LP in to conserve the shorebirds’ habitat, between Beach 56th Street and Beach 38th Street.
While several heavy bags of trash were removed from the beach, the fences that cordoned off the area from the public during the warmer months were also taken down.
“The Plover fencing is taken down during the winter and put back again in the spring for nesting season,” said Meghan Lalor, Parks’ Chief of Staff for Communications. The plovers typically make their way south during the winter, so the threat of humans or other animals coming by and stepping on their fragile eggs is eliminated.
Parks officials see no reason to keep the fences up in the area when there are no eggs, so they are removed and replaced them with new ones in the spring.
The piping plover is a federally threatened species. It is listed as endangered in several states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
However, in the late 19th and early 20th century, plover populations were decimated by companies who used their feathers to decorate hats and other garments.
Despite a brief resurgence with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, their population continued to decline throughout the rest of the 20th century. This was due to increased development and human activity interfering with their nesting areas.
Parks began managing this Rockaway Beach Endangered Species Nesting Area in 1996 in an effort to protect the species.
The shorebirds arriving during the spring and summer months are closely monitored by Parks officials, who keep an eye on their reproduction rates, while assessing any potential threats the birds might face in their new habitat.
Volunteers hope that the clean up last weekend will be one small step towards improving the area for the birds next year.
Governor Cuomo Announces NYC's Largest State Park to Open in Brooklyn in 2019
September 5, 2018 | Albany, NY
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the largest state park in New York City will fully open in Brooklyn in the summer of 2019. The new 407-acre park will be named in honor of Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn-born trailblazer who was the first African American Congresswoman, as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. The park is a signature project under the Governor's Vital Brooklyn Initiative and complements the state's efforts to build 34 new or improved pocket parks, community gardens, playgrounds and recreation centers within a 10-minute walk for every Central Brooklyn resident.
The first phase of the park, which will be complete next summer when the park opens full-time, seven days a week, will feature 10 miles of trails for hiking and biking, including bike connector paths that will ultimately join the Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue properties, waterfront access for kayaking, pop-up environmental education, a pier with a shade structure, picnic areas, concessions, comfort facilities, welcome and wayfinding signage and a park office. As part of today's announcement, Governor Cuomo directed relevant state agencies to start the process of park design and implementation.
"Our state parks are community treasures, and this new park transforms what was once landfill into exquisite open space, waterfront access and outdoor recreation for Brooklyn," Governor Cuomo said. "Shirley Chisholm led the fight to improve the health and wellness of underserved communities that we carry on today with the Vital Brooklyn initiative, and we are proudly naming this park after her in admiration for the example of leadership and devotion she set for all of us."
Climate Museum Sends Distress Signals to Stimulate Discussion
NY Times - August 30, 2018 | By Laura van Straaten
As published in the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/30/arts/design/climate-museum-signs.html
New signs that resemble the digital highway messages that typically flash bad news about road construction, traffic delays, flood warnings and missing children will be dotting New York City by Labor Day.
But while they may warn of impending dangers, they are not typical. The 10 large solar-powered signs installed in the five boroughs through October are part of “Climate Signals,” an exhibition by the Climate Museum. They will display what the museum’s director, Miranda Massie, describes as “aphoristic text” — surprising poetry, metaphor, even humor — designed to tempt passers-by into discussing climate change and the role cities play in the problem and solutions.
“It’s becoming axiomatic and clear that we need cultural transformation on climate in order to move forward,” she said. This project is a start, she added. It’s the second for the museum, which Ms. Massie founded three years ago.
Some signs will be in neighborhoods most vulnerable to climate change — where Hurricanes Sandy and Irene had the most impact, for example — and messages will appear in several languages. One of several partners on the project is the Mayor’s Office for Climate Policy and Programs.
Peter S. Knight, chairman of the board, said the museum sought to involve people beyond scientists in this discussion, “to integrate artists, poets, musicians, because their work can relate the urgency in a deeper way.”
“Conversation volunteers” from neighborhood organizations will staff each site on weekends, and Oct. 6 will be “Ask a Scientist Day.” That’s when the Climate Museum, in conjunction with the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and two specialized research centers within Columbia University’s Earth Institute, will station climate scientists at each sign to engage the public. There’s also a “Climate Walk and Arts Workshop” on the beach with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy on Sept. 30, among many other events.
The artist Justin Brice Guariglia created the signs and included one among his works in Storm King Art Center’s group climate exhibition (through Nov. 11), one of many projects that have recently tackled the topic.
Ms. Massie and Mr. Knight are hoping to find a permanent home for the museum, which is temporarily on Governors Island, the site of some of the “Climate Signals” programs coming up. “A dedicated place where people can come just on this issue is urgently needed,” Mr. Knight said. “And New York is, I think, the perfect place to do it.”
Ms. Massie concurred, giving the example of the work that Holocaust and tolerance museums and memorials around the world have done to fight xenophobia, discrimination and genocide: “The idea of a mission-driven museum that is working to make a better future, that is the tradition that we are stepping into.”
A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 1, 2018, on Page C3 of the New York edition with the headline: Signs of Climate Change To Appear In New York.
Walk on the wild side: CUNY internship brings students up close to nature
August 10, 2018 | By Kevin Duggan
As published int he Brooklyn Daily: https://www.brooklyndaily.com/stories/2018/33/mm-cuny-students-at-gateway-park-2018-08-10-bk.html
These students are truly outstanding in their field.
A City University of New York summer fieldwork internship program is giving students a chance to help conserve Brooklyn’s natural beauty. The city-wide Natural Areas Conservancy, along with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy hire summer interns from the City University colleges to conduct field research which will help maintain and restore the New York City’s 50 designated natural areas.
The interns must brave the searing summer heat, mosquitoes, and poison ivy to collect their data, but the work allows them to see a whole new side of the city, according to a grad student and longtime participant in the program.
“It’s so cool to see what’s behind what looks like a normal city street, and sometimes you’ll turn a corner and you’ll just be walking down a paved street and you’ll turn into a park and you’ll be in dense woods or brushy areas or in the grasslands,” said Renee Montelbano, who coordinates two teams of students in the Jamaica Bay area.
The program runs through July and August and focuses on giving life-sciences students from all City University colleges a chance to gain hands-on experience working in the field within the city limits, according to one of the conservancy’s directors.
“We feel very strongly about providing training for students within New York City so they can get field-research experience within the boundaries of the city, so they don’t have to leave to go to the Catskills or somewhere else,” said Hunter Armstrong, director of strategic initiatives for the Natural Areas Conservancy.
The data that the students gather will help the conservancy restore the natural landscapes that are threatened by invasive species. The conservancy started in 2012 and was involved in rebuilding some of the natural landscapes ravaged by superstorm Sandy, according to Armstrong.
“Right after superstorm Sandy, we were very involved in growing native grasses that were used to rebuild sand dunes that were destroyed in the storm,” he said.
Preserving these coastal areas and wetlands can act as a buffer from similar natural disasters, and allow for quicker regeneration, he added.
“It’s a buffer where natural landscapes are designed to absorb water and bounce back a little bit more quickly,” he said.
Some students have been returning to the program each year since it launched in 2016 because of the unique experience of getting so close to nature in such an urban area.
“I’m from Bensonhurst and I hadn’t experienced parks in this way, except through this internship, and that’s the reason I’ve come back for so many years,” said Montelbano.
The internship convinced her to go into a career of ecological field research, she said.
“Growing up, I think I always had some desire to work in this type of field, but it’s hard to connect with things if you’re not seeing them and interacting with them,” she said.
Her favorite natural area in the city is Marine Park because of its diverse landscape and accessibility to the local community.
“The park was once a landfill, and it’s become this really nice recreational space that’s still super natural and inviting and the public,” she said. “I think these are the types of parks that communities need, the ones that connect us to nature instead of separating us from it.”
Montelbano said that getting out to places like Marine Park is invaluable for young researchers.
“In Marine Park, on the salt marsh trail ,you can go out and look at the osprey nest and watch the young birds hatch and fledge through the course of the summer. You don’t get to connect with nature much more than that in the city,” she said.
$400 MILLION JAMAICA BAY IMPROVEMENT PLAN
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 2, 2018
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org, (718) 595-6600
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION JOINS BROOKLYN AND QUEENS ELECTED OFFICIALS, COMMUNITY LEADERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES TO ANNOUNCE $400 MILLION JAMAICA BAY IMPROVEMENT PLAN
Proposal Includes the Restoration of 50 Acres of Wetlands, Ribbed Mussel Installations and Green Infrastructure Projects that will improve the Ecological Health of the Bay
Photos of Jamaica Bay are Available on DEP’s Flickr Page
New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza today joined with Brooklyn, Queens elected officials, community leaders, and environmental advocates to announce a $400 million plan to further improve the ecological health of Jamaica Bay. The plan includes an array of waterbody improvement projects including 50 acres of wetland restoration, seven acres of ribbed mussel installations, and environmental dredging, all of which will result in a healthier Jamaica Bay. The projects will also deliver economic, social and ancillary environmental benefits, including healthier air and lower summer temperatures due to the addition of a significant number of new trees and plants. The plan is being submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation today and if approved, planning and design could begin as soon as 2019.
“A hallmark of the ecological revival of Jamaica Bay has been the productive partnerships formed between community groups, environmental advocates, educational institutions and city, state and federal agencies – and today we join together once again to announce a $400 million plan to further improve the health of the Bay,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We all recognize the Bay as an ecological jewel within the five boroughs, and we will build on these partnerships as we construct wetlands, install ribbed mussels and build green infrastructure in the Bay’s watershed in the coming years.”
“Our wetlands are vital to the health of our ecosystem and the resiliency of our city against the impact of climate change. The Jamaica Bay Improvement Plan is a comprehensive set of projects that would strengthen the watershed and improve the capacity of coastal communities in Brooklyn and Queens to handle damaging sewer overflows,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I thank DEP Commissioner Sapienza for his leadership on advancing this important investment in the future of our bay.”
“The health and resiliency of Jamaica Bay isn’t only an environmental consideration, it is also vital for the economic success of southeast Queens,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks. ”The $400 million will provide the resources for extensive wetland restoration, dredging and ribbed mussel installation. I commend DEP for diligently working with the community and elected officials to identify what projects are critical for Jamaica Bay, and investing accordingly.”
“Jamaica Bay’s location and abundance of food resources makes it an important home for fish, wildlife and plants – all things we need to care for and protect,” said State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens). “I fully support DEP for making this important financial investment to improve the ecological health of Jamaica Bay.”
“This additional $400 million investment into Jamaica Bay is yet another step forward in making the bay healthier for the surrounding communities and the overall ecological health of New York City,” said State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., a member of the New York Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “With this funding, DEP will be able to begin expanding several green infrastructure projects as well as restoring many acres of wetlands. I would like to thank DEP for their continued efforts to improve the health of Jamaica Bay through these various projects.”
"We cannot overstate how a worthwhile investment in Jamaica Bay is to the returns we get as a city,” said State Senator Roxanne Persaud. “Restoring wetlands doesn't just help our residents during major storms, they protect us from coastal erosion, and make our waterways cleaner for the plants and animals in their habitat. I look forward to seeing results from this exciting DEP project."
“I am so excited to stand here today with DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, and my colleagues in government in announcing a $400 million dollar improvement plan for Jamaica Bay,” Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel) said. “Few parts of the country know how important taking care of the Earth is as well as we do. There’s a balance, a true relationship, between the people of Jamaica Bay and the Bay itself. Investing in this ecological jewel, will not only show off the natural beauty of our water and its ecosystem, but will create the next generation of environmentalists to preserve and protect it. Thanks to everyone who’s been working so hard to protect our bay!”
“Global warming is a reality and investing in our environment is more important than ever,” said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. “With this $400 million project, DEP will transform Jamaica Bay so that our communities have access to clean air and water. This is truly a community organized effort that that will build a better Jamaica Bay for all.”
“Jamaica Bay is a national treasure, and deserves a steady flow of resources to preserve its ecology,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the City Council Committee of Environmental Protection. “I applaud DEP’s effort to make the Bay a cleaner and more sustainable place for New York City. We should constantly look for new ways to improve the health of our waterways, and our own well-being in the process.”
“While we work to reduce our carbon footprint, we must also do everything in our power to preserve and revitalize our wetlands that were under siege during the industrialization of our city,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “I welcome the dedication of another $400 million to filter out toxins and preserve the wildlife in Jamaica Bay. I’d like to thank DEP Commissioner Sapienza for his efforts to protect our watersheds.”
"The Jamaica Bay Ecowatcher's fully sup ort DEP’s Jamaica Bay Improvement Plan and commend them for their outreach to local environmental groups in crafting this proposal,” said Dan Mundy, Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers. “The numerous nature based features incorporated in this plan, including wetlands and ribbed mussels, recognize the critical role these habitats play in naturally cleaning and filtering the waters of the bay. In addition, they host numerous species of fish, reptiles and birds and ultimately have a tremendous positive combined ecological effect on the entire bay. After years of advocating for the bay, it is very encouraging to see the numerous environmental projects "turning the tide" on the health of the bay and producing water quality and restored habitat that guarantees a thriving Jamaica Bay for future generations."
"DEP has been a great partner in the effort to improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat in Jamaica Bay,” said Don Riepe, Director, NE Chapter, American Littoral Society. “Over the past several years they have supported the Littoral Society's Restoration Corp, a green jobs youth program working on saltmarsh restoration and shoreline cleanup of marine debris in Jamaica Bay. We fully support their Long Term Control Plan to increase funding for green infrastructure and living shorelines".
Alex Zablocki, Executive Director, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy said, “The announcement of a $400 million investment plan to improve the health of the Bay is welcome news and will lead to healthier communities across Brooklyn and Queens. Jamaica Bay is host to over 300 species of birds and diverse marine life dependent upon wetlands, marsh islands and upland forest. Green infrastructure projects will help stabilize and restore these precious resources supported by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and our government and non-profit partners. While city, state and federal agencies, along with groups such as the America Littoral Society and Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have worked tirelessly to restore parts of the Bay over the past years, the plan announced today will further enhance and support its resilience.”
“It’s difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement to Jamaica Bay,” said Dan Hendrick, Jamaica Bay historian and the filmmaker behind the award-winning documentary Saving Jamaica Bay. “For much of the 20th century, Jamaica Bay suffered from chronic underinvestment and environmental neglect, and shell fishing has been banned for nearly a century because of water quality concerns. DEP’s plan is a significant investment in the future of the Bay, one that will improve its health while also helping to protect local communities from the effects of climate change.”
DEP has already invested more than $1.5 billion to improve the health of Jamaica Bay. This includes large underground tanks at Paerdegat Basin and Spring Creek to store any sewer overflow during rainstorms, the restoration of 137 acres of wetlands and 442 acres of maritime forests/grasslands through strategic partnerships and significant upgrades to the wastewater treatment plants that drain to the Bay, including reducing nitrogen levels. Ongoing is a massive $1.9 billion project to build a storm sewer system in southeast Queens as well as Green Infrastructure at schools and public housing as well as parks, playgrounds and curbsides. All of this work has already resulted in significant improvements to the water quality in Jamaica Bay.
However, over the last 150-years New York City has lost approximately 85 percent of its historical wetland coverage, a significant amount of this within the Jamaica Bay watershed. These important natural areas serve as a protective transitional area between a body of water and dry land. Wetlands are extremely valuable as they help to absorb storm surge, filter impurities from the water, increase dissolved oxygen levels, reduce coastal erosion, capture greenhouse gases and serve as a productive ecological habitat and nursery for juvenile fish. Wetlands are among the most productive natural areas on earth and are particularly important in urban waters.
In order to continue restoring these essential functions to Jamaica Bay, DEP is proposing significant investments in the restoration of wetlands and salt marshes. Ribbed mussels have also proven to be particularly effective at filtering impurities from the water and the plan calls for substantial installations in several of the Jamaica Bay tributaries. In addition, DEP will continue to expand the successful Green Infrastructure program to the communities surrounding the Bay.
The Plan calls for:
Jamaica Bay (including Northern Channel, Inner-Bay and Rockaway Shore)
Restoration of 16 acres of wetlands
Green Infrastructure expansion – 147 greened acres within the watershed
A 3 acre ribbed mussel installation
Green Infrastructure expansion – 232 greened acres within the watershed
Environmental Dredging – 50,000 cubic yards of sediment removed
A 4 acre ribbed mussel installation
Restoration of 13 acres of wetlands
Restoration of 3 acres of wetlands
Restoration of 14 acres of wetlands
Restoration of 4 acres of wetlands
Jamaica Bay is a 31-square-mile water body with a broader watershed of approximately 142 square miles, including portions of Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County. It is a diverse ecological resource that supports multiple habitats, including open water, salt marshes, grasslands, coastal woodlands, maritime shrublands, and brackish and freshwater wetlands. These habitats support 91 fish species, 325 species of birds, and many reptile, amphibian, and small mammal species. In fact, Jamaica Bay is a protected United States Wildlife Refuge and is part of the larger Gateway National Recreation Area.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9.6 million residents, including 8.6 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $19.4 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
MoMA PS1 PRESENTS ROCKAWAY! 2018
Featuring Site-Specific Installation of Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama
July 1–September 3, 2018
Friday–Sunday and holidays, 12–6 p.m.
Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden, New York
June 18, 2018, NEW YORK—This summer, MoMA PS1 will present Yayoi Kusama’s (Japan, b. 1929) site-specific installation of Narcissus Garden (1966–present) as the third iteration of Rockaway!, a free public art festival presented with Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Narcissus Garden will be on view from July 1 through September 3, 2018 at the Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden.
Comprised of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres, Narcissus Garden will be on view in a former train garage from the time when Fort Tilden was an active U.S. military base. The mirrored metal surfaces will reflect the industrial surroundings of the now-abandoned building, drawing attention to Fort Tilden’s history as well as the devastating damage inflicted on many buildings in the area by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Narcissus Garden was first presented in 1966 when Kusama staged an unofficial installation and performance at the 33rd Venice Biennale. The silver spheres, originally made from plastic, were installed on the lawn in front of the Italian Pavilion, reflecting the landscape of the exhibition grounds. Kusama herself stood among them, barefoot and dressed in a gold kimono, alongside yard signs inscribed with the words “Narcissus Garden, Kusama” and “Your Narcissism for Sale.” Throughout the opening day of the exhibition, Kusama remained in the installation, tossing the spheres in the air and offering to sell them to visitors for 1200 lire (approximately $2) each. The action, which was viewed both as self-promotion and a critique on the commercialization of contemporary art, would later be seen as a pivotal moment in Kusama’s career as she transitioned from installation towards the radical and politically charged public performances that would be the focus of her work in the late 1960s in New York City.
The performances that followed the first presentation of Narcissus Garden became increasingly more elaborate and regularly involved multiple participants. Kusama often staged these happenings in or near New York City parks and cultural landmarks, including Body Festival (1967) in Tompkins Square Park and Washington Square Park, Love In Festival (1968) and Bust Out Happening (1969) in Central Park, and Grand Orgy to Awaken the Dead (1968) in the sculpture garden of The Museum of Modern Art. Iterations of Narcissus Garden have since been presented worldwide.
Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator-at-Large, Museum of Modern Art, said “Six years after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Rockaways, the vulnerable area is still fighting for rebuilding and resilience. Recently, eleven blocks of one of the most popular beaches in Rockaway Park were closed due to erosion following a heavy storm in March.” Biesenbach added, "To continue to raise awareness of the ongoing restoration work and efforts to ensure the Rockaways are prepared for future effects of climate change, the collaboration between Bloomberg Philanthropies, National Park Service, Jamaica Bay Rockaway Beach Conservancy, Rockaway Artists Alliance, and MoMA PS1 continues with a third iteration of Rockaway! created in close collaboration with Yayoi Kusama, evoking her youthful, courageous, and adventurous spirit with a work she first exhibited as an emerging artist, like many of the artists who live and work in the Rockaways right now."
Thomas Secunda, Co-Founder of Bloomberg LP and Chair of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, added, “The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy is proud to partner once again with MoMA PS1, Rockaway Artists Alliance, and National Park Service on this newest Rockaway! public art installation featuring the work of prolific artist, Yayoi Kusama. We are honored and extend our appreciation to Yayoi Kusama for exhibiting Narcissus Garden in Fort Tilden. Narcissus Garden will reflect the beauty of Fort Tilden and draw attention to the industrial history and urban natural environment that makes up Gateway National Recreation Area. Special thanks to Klaus Biesenbach, Joshua Laird, John Simonelli, and their dedicated teams for helping to make this possible.”
The installation of Narcissus Garden will be accompanied by an exhibition in the neighboring Rockaway Artists Alliance sTudio 7 Gallery that charts the history of Rockaway! and the ongoing work of the Rockaway Artists Alliance.
Rockaway! is a celebration of the ongoing recovery of the Rockaway Peninsula following the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, organized in collaboration with the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service. Rockaway! 2018 is a continuation of MoMA PS1’s ongoing collaborative programming alongside the Rockaway Artists Alliance that began with collaborating on rescue efforts immediately following Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and continued with the VW Dome 2 in 2013; Rockaway! in summer 2014, which featured solo projects by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff as well as a group show at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club; and the second iteration of Rockaway! in 2016, featuring a site-specific outdoor installation by Katharina Grosse.
Rockaway! is made possible through the generous support of Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Secunda Family Foundation.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Yayoi Kusama's work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: pop and minimalism. Her highly influential career spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures, which allude at once to microscopic and macroscopic universes.
Major touring surveys include those organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2000); National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2004); and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2008). Her work was the subject of a large-scale and well-received retrospective, which traveled from 2011 to 2012 to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. From 2012 through 2015, three major museum solo presentations of the artist’s work, Eternity of Eternal Eternity, A Dream I Dreamed, and Infinite Obsession simultaneously traveled to major museums throughout Japan, Asia, and Central and South America—all of which drew record-breaking attendances. In 2015, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark organized a comprehensive overview of Kusama’s practice, including works that span the full length of her career. The show traveled to Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Helsinki Art Museum. In 2017, The National Art Center in Tokyo hosted My Eternal Soul, a solo exhibition featuring over 130 paintings from the artist’s series of the same title, which she began in 2009, as well as works that span her entire career. Currently on view at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN), Jakarta is Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of the Rainbow (through September 9, 2018), which is organized by the National Gallery of Singapore and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, where it was previously on view. Opening at The Cleveland Museum of Art in July 2018 and at High Museum of Art, Atlanta in 2019 will be Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, a major survey of the artist’s work that was first on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, followed by the Seattle Art Museum, The Broad, Los Angeles, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
MoMA PS1 is devoted to today’s most experimental, thought-provoking contemporary art. Founded in 1976 as the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, it was the first nonprofit arts center in the United States devoted solely to contemporary art and is recognized as a defining force in the alternative space movement. In 2000 The Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center merged, creating the largest platform for contemporary art in the country and one of the largest in the world. Functioning as a living, active meeting place for the general public, MoMA PS1 is a catalyst for ideas, discourses, and new trends in contemporary art.
ROCKAWAY ARTISTS ALLIANCE
Since 1995 Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) has brought innovative art exhibitions, cultural events, and high-quality art education programs to the Rockaway peninsula. RAA’s facilities—sTudio 6, sTudio 7, and Building T-149—are nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay in Gateway National Recreation Area’s historic Fort Tilden. RAA brings children, adults, and seniors to the Fort for interactive programs—like Rockaway!—lectures, demonstrations, and musical performances.
JAMAICA BAY-ROCKAWAY PARKS CONSERVANCY
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) is a public-private partnership established in 2013 that is dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway Peninsula for local residents and visitors alike. With its partners at the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, JBRPC works to expand public access; increase recreational and educational opportunities; foster citizen stewardship and volunteerism; preserve and restore natural areas, including wetland and wildlife habitat; enhance cultural resources; and ensure the long-term sustainability of the parklands, including the development of the Science and Resilience Institute.
THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
The National Park Service (NPS) operates more than 400 parks and historic sites nationwide, including Gateway National Recreation Area—which contains Fort Tilden—established in 1972 as America’s first urban national park. In 2012, NPS and the City of New York forged an unprecedented partnership to restore and revitalize 10,000 acres of unique parklands surrounding Jamaica Bay. Rockaway!, a direct outgrowth of that collaboration, seeks to attract and engage new visitors to these amazing waterfront parks.
Press Contact: Molly Kurzius, (718) 392-6447 or email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
For downloadable high-resolution images, register at MoMA.org/press.
MoMAPS1.org • MoMA.org
Hours and Admission
Free and open to the public Friday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on July 4 (Independence Day) and September 3 (Labor Day) from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fort Tilden (169 State Road) is accessible by the Q22 and Q35 buses, the A train/shuttle to 116th St, via NYC Ferry from Wall Street / Pier 11 (from Manhattan) or Brooklyn Army Terminal (from Brooklyn), and via bicycle. Parking is available at adjacent Riis Park, or on-site by requesting a temporary permit from an RAA representative at the sTudio7 main desk.
Nitrogen Reduction Plan For Jamaica Bay
The Wave | on June 14, 2018
By Ray Vann
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has announced that plans for a $23 million nitrogen reduction project are now underway at the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant in a bid to improve the water quality of Jamaica Bay.
This latest project, which is expected to be finished in 2020, is just another piece of the $460 million upgrade program meant to decrease nitrogen discharges at wastewater treatment plants all along the bay’s shores. Nitrogen, as Alex Zablocki of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Park Conservancy explains, is particularly harmful to the ecology of the bay because it promotes the growth of dense algae blooms and reduces the oxygen level of the water, making it uninhabitable for many fish and plant species.
“If we can reduce the impact of nitrogen in the bay we can have a much better opportunity for creatures to grow and thrive,” Zablocki tells The Wave. “Those algae blooms especially can reduce sunlight to the bay floor, which kills off the creatures down there.” That means whatever feeds on the organisms from the floor of the bay, especially the smaller bait fish, won’t be able to reproduce and survive. And without the bait fish, we won’t see many of the larger fish that make up the area’s rich ecology.
Currently, the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant removes just 45 percent of the nitrogen in the water that gets discharged back into the bay, but the DEP believes that they’ll be able to raise this number significantly once the new upgrades are fully installed. Citing similar improvements made elsewhere, the DEP says that they have “reduced the combined nitrogen discharges from its wastewater treatment plants located along the East River by approximately 61 percent,” giving Rockaway residents reason to believe that the new upgrades will see a similar level of success in the future. Not a complete removal by any means, but still a definite step forward to seeing a healthy bay for years to come.
“With this $23 million investment, the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant can better protect not only Jamaica Bay and the public, but it also shows that the agency understands the concerns of my Rockaway constituency” State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said in the DEP’s press release, with several other local politicians issuing similar statements hailing the plan as a move in the right direction.
The government, however, is not the sole entity responsible for the health of the bay. DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza took time in his press release statement to recognize the efforts of local groups and environmental organizations and their role in improving the health of the bay over the past years.
“Working with environmental groups and local partners we have seen tremendous improvements in the ecology of Jamaica Bay over the last 20 years and reducing nitrogen levels is one of many fronts we continue to push forward on” Sapienza said.
Many of the groups commended by Sapienza are out there throughout the year, working tirelessly to improve conditions around Jamaica Bay with little recognition for their efforts. Just last week, for example, one group of local volunteers made their way to Black Wall Marsh to plant spartina plugs and prevent erosion of one of the bay’s largest islands. Similar volunteer missions are expected to take place throughout the summer too, and it is hoped that with the combined efforts of government and local organizations the bay will continue on its path to recovery and become a cleaner, healthier ecosystem in the future.
As published in The Wave: https://www.rockawave.com/articles/nitrogen-reduction-plan-for-jamaica-bay/
Picture This! Photo Contest Entries To Get Showcased At Whit’s
BY KAMI-LEIGH AGARD | 19 APRIL 2018
Back in February, we opened the call, and the community answered by sending in their hottest shots for The Rockaway Times Third Annual Photo Contest. And according to contest organizer, John Cori, who disclosed that this year he will also be one of the judges, with more than 750 submissions received, it’s crystal clear that Rockaway’s hot shot photo takers stepped up their game for a chance to win not only the grand prize of 500 bucks, but also bragging rights of being the community’s bomb photographer.
On Sunday, April 29, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the notoriously popular Whit’s End (97-02 Rockaway Beach Blvd), for the first time, the public will not only get the chance to check out the photos, but assist in the first round of judging. The 4 x 6 prints will be on display at Whit’s, where the public will be given a set of stickers to choose their favorite images in each category, assisting the official panel of six judges with the daunting first round of whittling down the more than 750 photos to just 30, which will go to the semifinal round.
“This year, folks definitely stepped up their game. For example, for the first time, there were zero square shots, which most folks usually take with their smartphones. Also, there was a lot more creativity with animals and sunset shots. People even staged photos incorporating various media and body movements. For example, there is one staged on the beach with a mannequin’s head placed on some type of mound. Amazing! How’d they think of that? There is also one with a family on the beach spelling out the word, “LOVE.” I could go on about the range of photos we received clearly reflecting love for everything Rockaway. We have amazing photographers in our community, and it will be a huge challenge for the judges to select which go into the semi final,” Cori said.
Co-sponsoring the photo contest are the NYC Parks Department, the Jamaica Bay – Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), NYCFerry, and the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA), who all contribute their resources to make the contest a keynote event on Rockaway’s summer calendar.
This year, the five categories are Jamaica Bay, Beach Life, The Ferry, Rockaway Action Shots, and Pets. Only two entries per category were permitted, meaning up to 10 photos total.
After the photos are narrowed down at Whit’s, the top 30 will go on to the next round. All of these semi-finalists will be printed on large 2 x 3-foot posters, which will be displayed along the boardwalk at elected points (info to come), thanks to the Parks Department. The photos will be up in time for the beach opening ceremony, starting on May 25, and will remain until July.
The top 30 photos will then undergo a second round of judging sometime in mid-August, this time exclusively by the public with assistance from Cori, who has been instrumental in making this contest possible from its genesis.
After the public judging in mid-August, the top 30 will be narrowed down to a top 10. The final judging will take place at Caracas at the Beach 106th Concession at the end of August. There, the winner will be announced. The top photo winner will take home a $500 grand prize from the RT and will get front-page recognition.
JBRPC's executive director, Alex Zablocki, said that the photo contest showcases Rockaway at its finest. “We supported the contest from the first year because it’s an important event to celebrate the community’s open spaces with the RT, local civic groups and residents. These photos represent Rockaway’s beauty and magic, and offer an array of creative viewpoints, not just for locals to appreciate, but visitors. Picking this year’s winner is going to be daunting, but we are all definitely up for the challenge!”
Stay tuned to the RT for more exciting details in upcoming editions.
This story was published in The Rockaway Times. http://rockawaytimes.com/index.php/columns/3715-picture-this-photo-contest-entries-to-get-showcased-at-whit-s
OPINION: Help shape Gateway’s future
March 13, 2018 | By Alex Zablocki and Lauren Cosgrove
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jamaica Bay, parts of Rockaway, Broad Channel and Howard Beach, Queens, and areas along southeast Brooklyn’s waterfront are home to the nation’s fourth most visited park unit – Gateway National Recreation Area (Gateway). Gateway was established in 1972 with the vision to serve local neighborhoods and visitors alike as a great urban national park. Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, a close partner of NPCA, is a public-private partnership established in 2013 dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula. Both of our organizations seek to improve access to Gateway and provide visitors with a unique, urban park experience.
Improving access to Gateway has long been a pressing issue for a diverse set of stakeholders, as most of the park’s locations are not served by public transportation. The need to improve transportation in these areas of the city have become urgent in recent years, as larger discussions about equality and resiliency have dominated the public sphere. Improving transportation and access to Jamaica Bay will provide better opportunities for outdoor recreation, environmental education, access to the waterfront and open space, and other community benefits. One way to increase access to Jamaica Bay is to run a ferry that would serve both local residents and park visitors, and allow interbay connectivity between Jamaica Bay parks and nearby communities.
Today, individuals, non-profit and for-profit organizations, along with other interested parties can help shape the way Gateway is developed in the future and ensure that transportation is a key component to any future uses at the park. The National Park Service has released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the re-use of buildings and land at Fort Tilden East and Riis Landing in Gateway. Our hope is that individuals and/or organizations will submit proposals that include interbay ferry service to and from Riis Landing to points across Jamaica Bay like Canarsie Pier, connecting parks in Brooklyn and Queens. This is the first step in a lengthy process that will help shape Gateway’s future. Proposals are due by March 30 at 1 p.m. We urge readers to review the RFEI at https://www.nps.gov/gate/request-for-expressions-of-interest-for-fort-ti... and consider submitting a proposal that better connects us and provides access to our parks.
Alex Zablocki is the executive director of the Jamaica Bay Rockaway Parks Conservancy. Lauren Cosgrove is the program director at NPCA’s Northeast Office.
Letter to the editor published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
From the JBRPC
SPRING AROUND THE CORNER
By Alex Zablocki | Published in the Rockaway Times | March 8, 2018 | Page 16
It has been a long winter but like many of you, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) is looking forward to the arrival of spring in less than two weeks. Spring will bring buds on trees, bulbs sprouting and birds to the bay!
Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways offer some of the best bird watching in New York City. With over 300 species of birds recorded throughout the year, Jamaica Bay always offers visitors something new to see. This winter we joined our friends at the American Littoral Society (ALS) Northeast Chapter to count winter waterfowl in Jamaica Bay. Just beyond the patches of ice, brant, bufflehead and mallard were a few of the bird species identified. This winter a few snowy owls were also seen throughout Jamaica Bay and at Breezy Point.
To support birds in our bay, the JBRPC is partnering with ALS to replace, repair and erect new osprey nest platforms and barn owl boxes in 2018. This work kicked off in February. These nesting sites provide a safe place for these birds to raise their young and will be monitored through the end of the year.
Get to know our parks.
Speaking of birds, one of the best places to get acquainted with our feathered friends is at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is made up of over 9,000 acres and includes two man-made ponds with adjacent walking trails that offer a great opportunity for bird watching. A Visitor Center offers a wealth of information on wildlife in Jamaica Bay. The Refuge is accessible by car, bike, bus and even subway (a short walk from the Broad Channel station).
Last fall, the JBRPC, The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service completed a three-year project to restore 14-acres of habitat in the Refuge. This work included the planting of over 28,000 trees and shrubs in the north and south gardens. If you haven’t visited the Refuge, add it to your list. Besides birds, the park is home to diamondback terrapin that nest along the shoreline and in the fall, you can spot hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of Monarch butterflies as they prepare to leave the bay and migrate south. For Visitor Center hours, visit: https://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/jamaica-bay-hours.htm.
We want to hear from you.
The National Park Service (NPS) has released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the re-use of buildings and land at Fort Tilden East and Riis Landing in the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. According to NPS, this RFEI seeks proposals from non-profit and for-profit organizations, individuals and other interested parties that will contribute to the park’s vision of creating a Great Urban National Park experience. For more information, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/gate/request-for-expressions-of-interest-for-fort-tilden-and-riis-landing.htm. Proposals are due March 30, 2018, by 1:00 pm.
If you would like more information on JBRPC, including volunteer opportunities and events, please visit www.jbrpc.org.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, January 4, 2018, 5:11 PM
ALBANY — Buried under snow and frigid temperatures, Brooklyn residents can dream about a greener future.
Gov. Cuomo on Thursday announced the conversion of a federally owned site along Jamaica Bay that housed two decommissioned city landfills into a 407-acre state park.
Cuomo said the park will offer central Brooklyn residents opportunities for biking, hiking, fishing and kayaking by providing “crucial” open space access to an underserved area of the state.
“This new state park will be a treasure in the heart of Brooklyn, offering hundreds of acres of beautiful parkland on the shores of Jamaica Bay,” Cuomo said. “We are committed to ensuring every New Yorker can access the recreational, health and community benefits of open space, and this park will open new doors to wellness for New Yorkers who need it most.”
The first phase of the project, which the state hashed out with the feds and city, will cost the state $15 million. The work will begin after the final needed approval is received from the National Park Service. The park is set to fully open in 2019, Cuomo said.
“For generations, the residents of central Brooklyn have lacked access to their waterfront and open spaces,” said Thomas Secunda, chairman of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
Secunda said the announcement “marks a major milestone in the decades-long effort to turn these former landfills into a wonderful new park.”
The site, which the National Park Service has owned since 1974, includes two landfills the city operated until 1983.
In 2002, the city began a seven-year, $235 million project to remediate the site. The work included capping the old landfills, adding more than 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil and planting more than 35,000 trees and shrubs.
City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen called the work “a monumental undertaking to close and cap a landfill, and transform it into beautiful open space and restored wetlands. The city proudly supports this endeavor.”
The central Brooklyn community has long called for the site to be opened to the public since the remediation.
While the feds will still own the land and the city will continue to operate a methane-capture operation on the site, it will be the state that will be responsible for the park.
Future phases include building a connecting bridge between the two sites, dedicated environmental education facilities and an amphitheater, Cuomo said.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said her agency “is excited by the opportunity to serve these traditionally park-poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn. A natural preserve in the backyard of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million people features open rolling hills and 3.5 miles of waterfront, connecting city and nature, and asphalt to meadows.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the 23rd proposal of the 2018 State of the State: New York State, in partnership with the National Park Service and the City of New York, are working to establish a new 407-acre state park on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, providing crucial new open space access to one of the most underserved areas of the state. The new state park complements the state's efforts to build 34 new or improved pocket parks, community gardens, playgrounds and recreation centers within a ten-minute walk for every Central Brooklyn resident.
"This new state park will be a treasure in the heart of Brooklyn, offering hundreds of acres of beautiful parkland on the shores of Jamaica Bay," Governor Cuomo said. "We are committed to ensuring every New Yorker can access the recreational, health and community benefits of open space, and this park will open new doors to wellness for New Yorkers who need it most."
Thomas F. Secunda, Chairman of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, said, "For generations, the residents of central Brooklyn have lacked access to their waterfront and open spaces. Today's announcement marks a major milestone in the decades-long effort to turn these former landfills into a wonderful new park."
New York State has signed preliminary agreements with National Park Service, with the intent to ensure future capital investments to improve and open the park to the public. Upon a final agreement with the National Park Service, phase 1 of the capital project will commence. Phase 1 will be funded by a $15 million State investment to open the restored property, making available 3.5 miles of waterfront, miles and miles of paths and trails, and a coastal highland, planted with native species.
The park will feature opportunities for biking, hiking, water-based activities such as fishing, kayaking, and waterfront environmental education, and will include restrooms, shade structures and concessions. With National Park Service approval, phase 1 is expected to fully open in 2019. Later phases will include construction of a connecting bridge between the two sites, dedicated environmental education facilities, and an amphitheater, creating a unique and expansive cultural and natural space for the community.
The 407-acre site, which has never been open to the public, includes the former Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill and Fountain Avenue Landfill, which were operated by NYC Department of Sanitation from 1956-1983 and deeded to the National Park Service as part of Gateway National Recreation Area in 1974. In 2002, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection began a $235 million site remediation that included the installation of an impermeable cap and below-ground barrier to support future use.
In addition, more than 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil, up to four feet deep, was spread across the site and more than 35,000 trees and shrubs were planted. The addition of prairie grass and native plantings prevents erosion and has created a diverse ecosystem of more than 400 acres of coastal meadows, wetlands, and woodlands that have attracted local wildlife. The full remediation and restoration of the site was completed with significant community input in 2009.
Under the preliminary agreement with the National Park Service and the City of New York, New York State Parks will plan, develop, open and operate the public park in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which will continue to manage the former landfill infrastructure.
Rose Harvey, Commissioner of New York State Parks, said, "State Parks is excited by the opportunity to serve these traditionally park poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn. A natural preserve in the backyard of Brooklyn's 2.6 million people features open rolling hills and 3.5 miles of waterfront, connecting city and nature, and asphalt to meadows. I commend Governor Cuomo for his commitment to expanding outdoor recreation in every corner of the state, and thank the National Park Service and the Department of Environmental Protection for working with us to make the project a reality."
Joshua Laird, Commissioner of the National Parks New York Harbor, who oversees 11 national parks with 23 destinations located in New York City and northern New Jersey, said, "Today's announcement marks an important step towards meeting Secretary Zinke's goal of opening more federal lands for public enjoyment. National Parks are not only out west; they are also right in our back yard here in New York City. Thanks to the interest of New York State, a never-opened section of Gateway National Recreation Area may soon be available for public enjoyment. The National Park Service's mandate to expand recreation opportunities paired with New York State's idea to operate a park at the former Pennsylvania & Fountain Avenue Landfill site set the stage for this cooperative effort. Residents of Brooklyn and visitors from all over the City and nation may soon be able to enjoy the site's sweeping vistas of New York Harbor and the natural beauty of Jamaica Bay."
NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen said, "It's a monumental undertaking to close and cap a landfill, and transform it into beautiful open space and restored wetlands. The City proudly supports this endeavor. We thank the City's Department of Environmental Protection for all its work readying the site, and look forward to working with the State to deliver a beautiful new park to Brooklyn."
"Opening this area, abundant with beautiful natural resources, expansive views and space for recreation, to the public is a perfect example of how Parks and green spaces can transform and enhance our communities," said U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries. "I thank Governor Cuomo and all of our partners for taking this community dream and making it a reality for Brooklyn."
The Friends of Penn & Fountain Parks, Inc. said, "A dream is about to become a reality on Jamaica Bay and thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his 'Open Spaces' mandate for New York State, Penn and Fountain Parks will soon be open for public use. Not only will East New Yorkers have access to the amenities of Jamaica Bay recreation, but, future generations of New Yorkers will experience the grandeur at Penn and Fountain and enjoy the profound silence of breath taking vistas as far as the eye can see. For us at Friends it is the culmination of 25 years of community involvement."
Thomas F. Secunda, Chairman of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, said, "For generations, the residents of central Brooklyn have lacked access to their waterfront and open spaces. Today's announcement marks a major milestone in the decades-long effort to turn these former landfills into a wonderful new park. I congratulate Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Harvey, New York State Parks and the MVVA team on developing an exciting plan for an accessible park that can be enjoyed by the community and visitors alike. I would also like to thank the various government agencies that have made opening this park possible, including the National Park Service, the Mayor's Office and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Finally, if not for the community and its leaders who have waited many years for this day to come, we may not be here today and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy is proud to support this effort together with them. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure that this special open space becomes a world-class park and a jewel in Jamaica Bay."
The Brooklyn park will be the second state park opened by Governor Cuomo in New York City. Governor Cuomo dedicated Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park in 2012. State Parks operates seven state parks throughout the five boroughs of NYC, including Bayswater Point State Park and Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens, East River State Park in Brooklyn, Clay Pit Ponds State Park in Staten Island, Riverbank State Park in Manhattan, and Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx. The Governor also opened Buffalo Harbor State Park in 2015 and Hallock State Park Preserve on Long Island earlier this year.
The park will be a signature initiative in Governor Cuomo's holistic and historic $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn model to benefit the health and wellness of Central Brooklyn residents.
As published in the Rockaway Times, November 9, 2017 | by Alex Zablocki
It has been a busy few weeks at the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC). At the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, we recently capped off a three-year restoration project with The Nature Conservancy and National Park Service. This work included 14-acres of restoration and the planting of 28,000 trees and shrubs. Working with the American Littoral Society, Gateway Bike and Boathouse, Rockaway Beach Civic Association and NYC Parks, we helped transform parkland located at Beach 88th Street and Beach Channel Drive into a place for kayaking, with public access to the bay. Finally, two weeks ago we began a project to improve the overlook at Battery Harris East, Fort Tilden, along with our partners at the National Park Service and Groundwork Hudson Valley. While the cold weather seems to be setting in, we look forward to spending the next few months planning out an aggressive agenda for 2018 to further improve our parks and open spaces.
Get to know our parks.
Did you know that Gwritzman Triangle, located at Beach Channel Drive and Beach 144th Street in Neponsit, is named after Leroy H. Gwirtzman, a World War II veteran and long-time community activist? According to NYC Parks, the park is part of the city’s Greenstreets Program and provides walkways, a sitting area, flagpole, plantings and a fence with decorative features. Recently, JBRPC joined NYC Parks and local residents in painting the fence and improving the grounds. This work will be completed in the next few weeks.
Speaking of veterans, often times we take for granted the joys of enjoying the outdoors and our beautiful landscape. As we approach Veterans Day, we are reminded of the sacrifice so many have made to keep us free. Selfless acts of heroism and service do not go unnoticed and it is because of the women and men in the armed forces that we can go about our daily routine and enjoy our wonderful open spaces.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has erected many monuments across our parks honoring our veterans. Some of these include the Rockaway Women Veterans Monument, Rockaway Veterans Memorial, Belle Harbor Memorial Circle and Broad Channel Memorial Park Flagstaff and plaque. A full list can be found at: https://www.nycgovparks.org/art-and-antiquities/permanent-art-and-monuments.
Across the bay at Floyd Bennett Field, the National Park Service has recognized World War II pilots of the Naval Air Ferry Command which was once based at Floyd Bennett Field. This plaque can be found in the Ryan Visitor Center. In Floyd Bennett Field’s Hangar B, the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP) – having many members who served in the military – has a small museum dedicated to armed forces.
All of these are worth exploring.
We want to hear from you.
Last month, JBRPC launched a new activities and events map on our website. The tool allows visitors to sort activities of interest across all Jamaica Bay and Rockaway parks, as well as events taking place in our parks. You can help us build out content for the new map by sending us your events. The map and link to submit events can be found at http://www.jbrpc.org/getting-around. Let us know what you think.
If you would like more information on JBRPC, including volunteer opportunities and events, please visit www.jbrpc.org.
Alex Zablocki is the executive director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
New York Today | By ALEXANDRA S. LEVINE OCT. 27, 2017
Good morning on this flawless Friday.
How can trees protect us from another Hurricane Sandy?
Five years after the storm — which slammed into the Northeast on Oct. 29, 2012, killing 43 people in New York and causing $19 billion in damage — nearly 20,000 trees and shrubs have been planted in a hard-hit area in Jamaica, Queens, to build up coastal resilience.
Rebuilding and preparing for the next big storm often centers on infrastructure and architecture, less so on plants.
New York City’s more than 500 miles of coastline — the dunes, wetlands, marshlands, coastal forests and oyster reefs — can be a protective buffer against storm surge.
“These natural systems are the front line — the places that are between the open ocean and New Yorkers,” Mr. Ulfelder said. “The more we can do to invest in these, the better they’re going to be in helping to protect us.”
The conservancy, along with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, National Park Service and hundreds of volunteers, is wrapping up a three-year project to cover 14 acres of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with trees and shrubs. When Sandy flooded the area, the plants there could not tolerate the salty, wet conditions, said Emily Nobel Maxwell, the New York City program director at the conservancy. But the plants that they are placing there — a vibrant “maritime forest” of oaks, pines, juniper, holly, blueberry and elderberry — can better tolerate saltwater inundation.
“The expectation is that they will be under water more often in the future, as the surges happen,” Mr. Ulfelder said. “When the water washes around them, they will be able to survive some of those events, whereas the previous species could not. They’re designed to be compatible with a sea-level-rising world.”
If it’s successful, Mr. Ulfelder and Ms. Maxwell said, the project can serve as an example for other parts of the city susceptible to water damage.
The group’s goal is to plant 28,000 trees there. If you’re interested in volunteering to help, you can sign up to participate this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or next Saturday and Sunday at the same time.
“There’s something very special about putting a tree in the ground,” Mr. Ulfelder added. “The feeling of that and the connection to the earth, but also an expression of hope about the future.”
By Gene Apodaca | October 25, 2017 @5:18 PM
Residents in the Rockaways are getting more access to Jamaica Bay. A project is underway to open up a new kayak launch there. As NY1's Gene Apodaca reports the project breathes new life to a park that has sat idle for years.
The swans swimming in Jamaica Bay will soon have some company.
The parks department has reached an agreement with the city-funded non-profit organization Gateway Bike and Boathouse.
The organization will provide free kayaking and lessons on a piece of parkland at Beach 88th street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways.
It will be only the third public access point to Jamaica Bay on the peninsula.
“It means taking full advantage the assets around us and fresh air and exercise and good health,“ said Rick Horan, Executive Director of Bike and Boathouse.
The more than one acre site has been closed to the public for years. At one point used as a staging area for a massive sewer construction project. Hurricane Sandy further delayed its development.
However, last summer the site was returned to the parks department, clearing the way for public use again. The American Littoral Society teamed up with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy to clean and prep the site.
“That included working throughout August and September removing invasive species putting in a trail, wood chips and a weed barrier so that the site can be prepared and ready,“ said Alex Zablocki, Executive Director of Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
With the help of Boy Scout Troop 298 from Brooklyn, two shipping containers were outfitted to serve as temporary boathouses. The hope is that a permanent boathouse eventually can be built.
Currently, there are three kayaks at the site but organizers hope to have 18 by the time they launch next spring.
“I think it’s going to be great for the community give a lot of people a place to go enjoy this beautiful bay,” said nearby resident, Bryan Ecock.
In the coming weeks the community will be asked to help design the site. Officials hope that by giving people more access to the water they will, in the long run, help improve the condition of the bay.
“The more people know about the bay the more apt they are to take care of it,“ said Horan.
28,000 Trees Planted During Three-Year Restoration Project in Sandy-Damaged Jamaica Bay to Improve Wildlife Habitat and Coastal Resilience
TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT, 600 VOLUNTEERS WILL PLANT NEARLY 18,000 TREES IN EIGHT DAYS
New York, NY (October 25, 2017) – The eight-day volunteer event to plant nearly 18,000 native trees and shrubs in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, NY has reached its halfway point. Nearly 600 volunteers are participating in the large-scale planting, which is the capstone project in a three-year collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service (NPS), and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) to restore 14 acres of the Refuge, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, damaged by Hurricane Sandy. By the final planting day, October 29th—the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the total number of trees planted during the three-year project will be nearly 28,000. Media are invited to the press event on October 26th.
Like many parts of New York City, Jamaica Bay and the surrounding communities were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Shoreline neighborhoods flooded, and many homes were damaged or destroyed. In the Refuge, an 8.5-foot storm surge uprooted trees and destroyed vegetation. Both East and West Ponds, important sources of freshwater, were breached and inundated with brackish water from the bay. The altered landscape allowed for the expansion of some invasive plant species, which further degraded wildlife habitat and reduced biodiversity.
The partnership between the Conservancy, NPS, and JBRPC will help create a more resilient Jamaica Bay—one that can better adapt to the impacts of climate change. By restoring native plant communities, including flood- and salt-tolerant species, the project will both improve the site’s ability to recover from future floods and create better habitat for wildlife. The Refuge is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Northeast, with more than 330 migratory and native bird species, and it is home to other local wildlife, including diamondback terrapins, red bats, and horseshoe crabs. The findings from this project may have potential applications for other coastal areas of New York City and beyond.
“As we reflect on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, we appreciate the clear threats of sea level rise, flooding, and storm surge are very real,” said Bill Ulfelder, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in New York. “At The Nature Conservancy, we believe in the power of nature to help protect New Yorkers and promote resilience in a climate-changing world. In Jamaica Bay, alongside our partners and community members, we have put that belief into action.”
“As we approach the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, we know we are helping to strengthen the ecosystem at the Refuge to survive and function far into the future, even in the face of a changing environment,” said Gateway Superintendent Jennifer Nersesian. “But perhaps more importantly, what we've seen through this project is the resilience and commitment of our community, from our project partners to the many volunteers who have all come together to help restore the Refuge. It is that spirit of stewardship that is the real key to our future, no matter what the circumstances.”
“The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is home to our region’s most important bird sanctuary and provides a thriving environment for many species right here in New York City,” said Tom Secunda, Chairman, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. “With the help of many partners and volunteers over the past three years, the Refuge is coming back stronger than ever before. The resilience of this refuge and surrounding community after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy has been nothing short of extraordinary. The JBRPC continues to be a proud partner with The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service to create an even more resilient and sustainable Jamaica Bay.”
Dedicated volunteers include: staff from corporate partners Bank of America, Accenture, and Bloomberg; the Central Park Conservancy and its youth program, ROOTS; students from local middle schools and high schools; local residents; and nature lovers from across the City. Over the past three years, hundreds of volunteers have planted trees, helped remove invasive vegetation, and conducted biological monitoring.
“Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of New York City’s most special natural areas, and every volunteer who has helped over the past three years has a tangible connection to this place,” added Ulfelder. “This work would not be possible without enthusiastic volunteers and wonderful supporters—they have helped make Jamaica Bay more resilient, better for wildlife, and more welcoming to people and nature."
The collaboration between the Conservancy, NPS, and JBRPC to restore 14 acres in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge began in Fall 2015. The work was made possible through a capital investment donation from the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy to The Nature Conservancy and Centennial Funding from the National Park Service. The project has three goals: improve health of wildlife habitat, improve coastal resilience, and enhance visitor experience.
The Wave | on October 19, 2017
Friday the 13th, was a lucky day for us in Broad Channel this October. The subway station garden, adopted by the Civic Association in 1990, got a 100 percent improvement thanks to Ciaragrace Donley of NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office, Alex Zablocki of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, and a handful of valued volunteers. The weeds are gone, woodchips laid, and native plants obtained by the Conservancy were planted. The Conservancy also erected signs crediting the Civic Association with maintaining the gardens. Let’s hope passersby respect the gardens by depositing their litter in the trash can provided by funds from Councilman Ulrich.
- BARBARA TOBORG
BY KAMI-LEIGH AGARD
As published in the Rockaway Times | 19 OCTOBER 2017
If you are entering or exiting the Broad Channel (BC) Subway Station, get ready for an eye-pleasing shock. On Friday, October 13, the Broad Channel Civic Association (BCCA) got their hands dirty, and joined the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) and Councilman Erich Ulrich’s office in giving the Station’s community garden a much-needed cosmetic facelift.
According to Dan Mundy, Jr., BCCA president, community volunteers removed 22 bags of weeds and debris from a nearly 3,000 square foot garden space adjacent to the Station. A weed barrier cloth was installed to help limit future maintenance needs at the site and loads of woodchips were placed across the garden. Twelve native flowering plants and trees were planted including beach plumb, holly, gray birch and andropogon. Also, the group installed two signs at the site recognizing the work of the BCCA to maintain the garden in partnership with the JBRPC.
In 1990, BCCA ‘adopted’ the Station’s garden and received a grant to beautify it with plants and trees. However 12 years later, Hurricane Sandy decimated it. BC resident Barbara Toborg said, “Sandy wiped out all the tender loving care locals diligently gave to the garden in all those past years, transforming what once was beautiful into a garbage-littered eyesore. Then a few years later, the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) stepped in by building a wall and planting a nursery. However, we knew that we had to pitch in and revitalize the garden back to its glory days with our BC green touch.”
As documented in the book, Broad Channel (Images of America: New York) authored by Liz and Dan Guarino, “In 1880, the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Beach Railroad began service and BC became a stop in 1881. The new community's hub was the railroad station, the line having been taken over by the Long Island Rail Road. Then in the 1950s, after the LIRR trestle had been plagued by interruption of service over the years by fire and the havoc that ice in the bay worked on the miles of open trestle, the line was transformed into a subway line by the NYC Transit Authority. The BC Subway station is now a major destination and transfer point for commuters.
Mundy, Jr. said, “The garden’s transformation is amazing, making the entrance to our town’s train stop look really beautiful. It was great to see locals coming out to beautify our community.”
BY ALEX ZABLOCKI | 28 SEPTEMBER 2017
Like many of you, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) welcomed the reopening of the full Rockaway boardwalk this summer. JBRPC is energized by a series of exciting milestones achieved over the past few months in the Rockaways by our partners, government agencies and our organization. While the reopening of the boardwalk is a major milestone in Rockaway’s recovery post-Sandy, we know that more needs to be done to ensure the long-term sustainability of parklands and overall resiliency of the Rockaway community.
With recent storms such as Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria, we are reminded that Mother Nature is both unpredictable and unforgiving. In Rockaway, the best buffer we have to protect us from extreme weather and climate change are our salt marshes, beaches and dunes. While maintaining the integrity of these natural areas is one piece of the overall resilience strategy, it is key to providing Rockaway with protection from dangerous storms.
As part of our mission, as a nonprofit organization charged with providing support to the National Park Service and NYC Parks in Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways, we seek to support these natural areas and restore them, and by doing so improve habitat, help sustain open spaces and protect inland areas from the threats of storms and climate change. For example, JBRPC partnered with The Nature Conservancy to restore parkland in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to improve the ecological health of habitats, increase resiliency, and enhance visitor experience at the Refuge. In over 14-acres of the Refuge, this project restores native plant communities, including flood and salt-tolerant plants, to create better habitat for migratory birds and improve the site’s ability to recover from future floods, and provide a natural buffer to surrounding communities. On October 21 and 28, hundreds of volunteers are needed to help plant over 17,000 trees and shrubs as part of this project. If you would like to assist in this effort, please visit our website at http://www.jbrpc.org/volunteer/.
Get to know our parks.
Did you know that Floyd Bennett Field, New York City’s first municipal airport now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, plays an important role in protecting the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay from storms? With our partners at the National Park Service, NYC Parks and the Natural Areas Conservancy, the JBRPC is preparing for future shoreline restoration projects through the support of the Marian S. Heiskell Beach Grass Nursery at Floyd Bennett Field. While the nursery may be located in Brooklyn, native beach grasses grown at this 3.25-acre site are used to stabilize dunes and other natural areas buffering the Rockaway coastline from storms and sea level rise. Floyd Bennett Field also offers both natural and active recreation areas, including camping, bird watching, fishing, hiking and kayaking. Visitors can also learn about the parks important place in aviation history at the Ryan Visitor Center and the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP) located at Hangar B.
We want to hear from you.
As we approach the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, JBRPC is co-hosting a three-part event titled “Science of the Living City: New York City’s Coastal Future: What Can Jamaica Bay Be?" This free public event takes place October 10, 17 and 24 and will bring together voices from over 25 local organizations to discuss current life in the Jamaica Bay watershed and its future. For more information, please visit: http://bit.do/resilienceseries.
If you would like more information on JBRPC, including volunteer opportunities and events, please visit www.jbrpc.org.
From the JBRPC | BY ALEX ZABLOCKI, 24 AUGUST 2017
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) was established in 2013 as a public-private partnership dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula for local residents and visitors alike. With its partners at the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, JBRPC works to expand public access; increase recreational and educational opportunities; foster citizen stewardship and volunteerism; preserve and restore natural areas, including wetland and wildlife habitat; enhance cultural resources; and ensure the long-term sustainability of parklands.
You may have seen us working in the community over the years. JBRPC has worked with government agencies and local organizations to bring improvements and programming to places like Fort Tilden, Riis Park, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Rockaway beaches. Most recently our organization privately funded improvements to Bayswater Park and we are currently working with partner organizations to improve parkland at Beach 88th Street.
While our presence in the Rockaway community is not new, there are longstanding organizations doing great work to improve parks and open spaces here in Rockaway. JBRPC seeks to partner with these groups and complement their work, not duplicate it, and support the local community by filling gaps where needed. We work closely with the American Littoral Society, Rockaway Artists Alliance and other groups to help fulfill our mission. This year we opened an office on Beach 116th Street and welcome visitors to come learn about our work and let us know how we can support parks in our community.
Get to know our parks.
Did you know that Fort Tilden, which is owned and managed by the National Park Service, was established as a military base in 1917? It was intended to fortify the Rockaway peninsula from naval attacks during World War I and remained an active base during World War II and the Cold War. Both anti-aircraft guns and Nike Missiles were placed at Fort Tilden to protect from aerial attacks. One of the batteries, Battery Harris East, can be accessed by the public by following the trail along Range Road. Visitors may ascend the staircase to the top of the battery to experience breathtaking 360-degree views of the Rockaways, Jamaica Bay, Atlantic Ocean and the Manhattan skyline. Fort Tilden was decommissioned in 1974 and now serves as a public park.
We want to hear from you.
As the end of summer approaches, we want to hear from you. Let us know how you are enjoying the last days of summer in our parks. Post a picture to Instagram and tag us @JBRPC.
Alex Zablocki is the executive director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. Prior to leading the Conservancy, Alex served at the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery as a Senior Program Manager for infrastructure projects and storm recovery programs. The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy headquarters is located at 177 Beach 116th Street, Suite 4, Rockaway Park. For more information on the Conservancy, please visit www.jbrpc.org.
Maria Elena Perez | on August 02, 2017
Bayswater Park has gone through a bit of a much-needed makeover, thanks to the Jamaica Bay—Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), NYC Parks and students from the Student Conservation Association.
On Wednesday, July 26, volunteer students, the Natural Areas Conservancy, the JBRPC, NYC Parks and guests gathered for the ribbon cutting of the a mural and a tour of the new trails that were added to the back of the park.
“We’re working to make this park more resilient, more accessible and a better place for the community to come out and enjoy on a day-to-day basis,” said NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanaugh.
Thanks to funding from Councilman Donovan Richards, the JBRPC and the Natural Areas Conservancy, the new park includes a new picnic bench area, grills, a mural painted by the volunteer students and spruced up trails in the back of the park.
The Natural Areas Conservancy is a public-private partnership that works with NYC Parks in raising additional resources for natural areas and conducting research.
Sarah Charlop-Powers, executive director of the Natural Areas Conservancy, is excited to be partnering with the JBRPC and NYC Parks to see this big project come together.
“It’s one of the few sites where we’re all collaborating together and it’s really exciting,” said Charlop-Powers.
Growing up in the Bronx, Charlop-Powers was a part of cleanup and environmental projects as well. She expressed how “great [it was to see] all of these students be a part of beautifying the park.”
“It was a life changing experience for me to have that kind of job, and I think for any New York City kid to have this kind of job, if you’re living in one of the five boroughs,” said Charlop-Powers.
Executive Director of the JBRPC, Alex Zablocki, is also thrilled about the partnership and is happy with the outcome of the mural.
“This was clearly a partnership with many organizations that we are proud to support and be a part of,” said Zablocki.
The JBRPC, which is a public-private partnership, improves 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway Peninsula. When partnering with NYC Parks and the Natural Areas Conservancy, they help expand public access and restore natural areas to parklands.
Zablocki hopes that with the new improvements, they will see more people in the peninsula come out to enjoy their local parks.
“By improving the trails and bringing in the new picnic tables, we hope that more people will come out to enjoy these natural areas in Jamaica Bay,” said Zablocki.
Large planting event is part of a three-year project in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to benefit both nature and the surrounding communities
New York, NY | October 25, 2016
The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), has kicked off a six-day event to plant more than 10,000 native trees and shrubs in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, in Queens, NY. The plantings are part of a collaborative project between the Conservancy, NPS, and JBRPC that began in Fall 2015 to restore 14 acres of the Refuge damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The project has three goals: improve ecological health of habitats, increase resilience, and enhance visitor experience.
In addition to replanting the site, The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service have been working to remove invasive vegetation. To track the project’s success, teams will continue to conduct biological monitoring of the site, including surveys of birds, pollinators, vegetation and soil. Hundreds of volunteers have engaged in restoration work thus far, and more than 400 volunteers are expected to participate at this week’s planting event. The goal is to plant 30,000 trees and shrubs by the project’s end in Winter 2017.
By restoring native plant communities, including flood- and salt-tolerant species, the planting efforts will not only increase wildlife habitat but also improve the site’s ability to recover from future floods.
“The Nature Conservancy is proud to help make New York City a greener, more hospitable environment for both people and nature,” said Emily Nobel Maxwell, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s New York City Program. "It's incredible to see the changes Jamaica Bay has undergone since Hurricane Sandy struck four years ago. This project is an excellent opportunity to steward one of our most important natural areas, and it has the potential to inform the management of coastal parklands citywide and beyond, helping us better adapt to the impacts of flooding, sea level rise, and severe storms.”
“This project is a fantastic way to begin the second century of the National Park Service,” said Jen Nersesian, Superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area. “Improving our ability to recover from future floods can make us better neighbors, and improving the habitat will make us an even better refuge."
“This important restoration work at Jamaica Bay connects science and recreation, nature and people,” said Tom Secunda, Chairman, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. “JBRPC is proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service to create a resilient Jamaica Bay for nature, local residents, and visitors alike.”
“We also thank all of the dedicated volunteers who are making this work possible one tree at a time,” added Nobel Maxwell. The more than 400 volunteers participating in the planting event include: staff from corporate partners Bank of America, Bloomberg, Lowe’s, and NBBJ; the Central Park Conservancy and its youth program, ROOTS; students from Alternate Learning Center Schools and Bronxdale High School; local residents; and nature lovers from across the City.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, located in the Atlantic Flyway – a major migration route stretching from the Arctic to South America, is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeast. More than 330 bird species, including migratory songbirds, are found in the Refuge. The restoration efforts will provide birds with better habitat and nutrient-rich food for their journey. The park is also home to diamondback terrapins, red bats, and more than 60 species of butterflies and native pollinators.
The Refuge is an ecological oasis, offering visitors an essential connection to nature in New York City. It is accessible by public transportation, and it attracts more than half a million visitors each year.
The ecological restoration work in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge was made possible through a capital investment donation from the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy to The Nature Conservancy and centennial funding from the National Park Service. For more information about the work at Jamaica Bay, please visit nature.org/jamaicabay.
About Gateway National Recreation Area
A large diverse urban park spanning two states, Gateway combines recreational activities with natural beauty, wildlife preservation, military history and more Visitors can hike, picnic, swim, sunbathe, bike, visit the oldest lighthouse in the nation, see an airplane collection and camp overnight, all in the New York metropolitan area. Gateway is one of the ten most visited national parks in the country. For information about Gateway's upcoming public programs, see the park's Web site at www.nps.gov/gate. To join the conversation about Gateway, follow us on social media. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @GatewayNPS.
About the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) is a public-private partnership established in 2013 that is dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway Peninsula for local residents and visitors alike. With its partners at the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, JBRPC works to expand public access; increase recreational and educational opportunities; foster citizen stewardship and volunteerism; preserve and restore natural areas, including wetland and wildlife habitat; enhance cultural resources; and ensure the long-term sustainability of the parklands, including the development of the Science and Resilience Institute. Learn more at www.jbrpc.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
June 26, 2015
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge announced Monday it will start the groundwork for a post-Sandy restoration project this fall in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
Part of the project is intended to repair the damage created when saltwater from the bay poured into the freshwater West Pond due to a breach caused by Hurricane Sandy. The pond is west of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel.
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge—part of the Gateway National Recreation Area—is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeastern United States. It is an integral stopover for migrating birds on the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory route along the Atlantic Coast and east of the Appalachian Mountains. Migrating birds need the food, water and habitats at the refuge. More than 330 species of birds have been seen at Jamaica Bay over the past 25 years.
As part of this collaborative project, The Nature Conservancy and National Park Services will reduce invasive plants and restore native plant communities, including flood and salt-tolerant plants, to create better habitats for migratory birds and improve the site’s ability to recover from future floods. The Rockaways’ beaches, bay and wildlife were devastated by Sandy.
In addition to the native plant and coastal resiliency work, hundreds of volunteers will be engaged in replanting the site, and others will join in monitoring butterflies and pollinators to track the project’s success.
Saltwater’s toll is visible on the trail surrounding West Pont, where dried out Maple trees and new vine species have taken over other plants and trees.
Joshua Laird, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, said some of the new non-native species are not nutritious for the animals that habitat at Jamaica Bay.
“National Parks are linked to the community around us—environmental health, public health, access, education, housing, are all connected to us so these partnerships become an important part of the future,” he said during the Monday press conference.
“The habitat is critical to maintaining the visitor experience. We are honored to join this effort and excited to work with Jamaica Bay,” said Bill Ulfeder, state director of The Nature Conservancy. “We are here for the long term.”
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge wants to make the Atlantic Flyway stopover a sustainable environment and has researched plant species that can assimilate to freshwater or saltwater.
“For example, oak trees are a good host. Species such as caterpillars and moss make their homes on oak trees and this can be food for the bird,” Laird said.
“This key restoration project advances our goal to expand public access, and preserve and restore natural areas, including wetland and wildlife habitat in Jamaica Bay,” said Tom Secunda of chairman, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, which donated about $500,000 last year for the project.
The site work will begin this fall and continue through 2017. The refuge will rely on volunteers to help plant over 20,000 native trees and shrubs at the site over the next several years. Baseline biological monitoring, including surveys of birds, soils, vegetation and insects, will take place in spring and summer of 2016. Post-restoration monitoring will occur seasonally in the fall and spring, until at least 2017.
June 26, 2015
Restoration groundwork for the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge was announced on June 22. The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service (NPS), and the Jamaica Bay-
Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) will collaborate to improve the ecological health of habitats, increase resiliency, and enhance the experience of future visitors to the
Gateway National Recreation Park
Land management strategies must adapt according to long term climate change effects. Out of New York City’s 520 miles of coastline, this individual breach caused by
Hurricane Sandy was a critical focus of the plans at 175- 10 Crossbay Blvd. in Broad Channel.
Beginning this fall through 2017, site work at the West Pond will handle the critical breach caused by Hurricane Sandy that mixed Jamaica Bay’s salt water into the pond’s fresh water.
Daphne Lim, a public affairs specialist for the NPS, outlined three alternatives that have been developed, though the NPS is still in the planning stages for an Environmental
Assessment (EA) study for the West Pond Breach.
Repairing of the breach would include a freshwater source, in addition to a structure that enables staff to control water and salt levels for wildlife management purposes. If this
first option is chosen, engineering analysis will be necessary for design and placement. A constructed living shoreline would increase resiliency against potential future storm
damage, plus boardwalks and wildlife viewing areas strategically placed around West Pond will enhance visitors’ experience.
A second alternative, according to Lim, is a berm—a raised border barrier constructed to fill the gap. With this option, West Pond will be re-created and enhanced as a smaller pond area farther inland to bring freshwater habitats that are less tolerant of salt conditions found in estuaries. Both a freshwater source and a water control structure would then be installed.
Additionally, Terrapin Point would become an island created by the tide, allowing its ebb and flow through a channelized marsh. Conditions at Terrapin Point would be altered to
create a habitat for seabirds and terrapins. Trail access would be enhanced by creating a new trail system around West Pond and Terrapin Point. Bridging the breach was the third
option announced by Lim. In this case, the breach would be spanned together with either a steel truss bridge or a box culvert to restore the loop trail that existed before Hurricane
Sandy. Along the breach, banks would be stabilized and trail area of West Pond would continue to be influenced by the tide, with salt levels similar to Jamaica Bay. Not only will these options fix and protect the landscape, the reestablishment of freshwater will increase species diversity, increasing biodiversity at the refuge.
While two of the above possible plans will also further diversify the habitat, the level and length of construction required would be greater because of the additional earthwork, causing a longer recovery. The environmentally preferable alternative described in the plan is the second option, the berm, based on analysis of environmental consequences.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the NPS is required to go throughthese planning steps, for such a large-scale project, including a comment period for the
EA and a public meeting next month.
June 25, 2015
A collaborative effort between federal park officials and two environmental groups is seeking to restore the North and South Gardens at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Center in Broad Channel in an effort to bring more wildlife to the area and protect it from future floods.
“In New York, our natural areas are in constant need of work and maintenance,” Joshua Laird, commissioner of National Parks of New York Harbor, said at a Monday press conference. “The restoration work that is happening now is our response to time and what blows in with the wind: invasive species and so forth. And it doesn’t happen on its own. It happens through the time and care of park staff and volunteers who love this place and come here to help.”
The goal of the project, according to the National Park Service, which oversees the refuge center, is to remove plants that are not native to the Jamaica Bay area and replace them “native vegetation to restore biodiversity and habitat functions.” The project will encompass around 14 acres of the parkland.
It is expected to be finished in summer 2018, according to NPS officials.
The South Garden will be started first, they said, during this fall with the North Garden to follow in spring 2017.
The NPS is doing the work with the help of the the Nature Conservancy and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
“Each of us is bringing significant resources to the table,” Laird said. “The project wouldn’t be happening at all if it weren’t for all of the participants.”
The NPS and the Nature Conservancy will carry out the work.
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Park Conservancy has donated $500,000 to the Nature Conservancy for the work and the project has been given a $300,000 grant from NPS, Laird said.
Bill Ulfelder, New York executive director of the Nature Conservancy, said his group is proud to undertake the work to protect what is one of his favorite parklands.
“The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Center is a true gem,” Ulfelder said.
He echoed Laird’s remarks that the collaboration between the three organizations is vital to the project’s success.
“Without your leadership and partnership, we would not be able to restore and protect together this marvelous natural area,” Ulfelder stated.
He added that he believes the project will be a model for other wildlife refuge centers that seek to restore their natural areas.
“And this project will have implications beyond Jamaica Bay by demonstrating how land management and coastal parklands can enhance resilience in a climate changing world,” he continued. “This work has the potential for applications across New York City’s more than 500 miles of coastland and beyond.”
Tom Secunda, chairman of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, also expressed his excitement for the project.
“It’s our job to bring together science, recreation and the people that can make a difference, like the Nature Conservancy and certainly the National Parks,” Secunda said.
June 24, 2015
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is getting a makeover.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the National Park Service(NPS) and Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) are collaborating on a project to improve the ecological health of habitats at the refuge and enhance visitor experience.
The project will include reducing invasive plants and restoring native plant communities, including flood and salt-tolerant plants. These conditions will create better habitats for migratory birds and improve the area’s ability to recover from floods. The organizations will also enlist volunteers to re-plant the site and monitor butterflies and pollinators.
“The JBRPC is proud to be working with The Nature Conservancy on this key restoration project that advances our goal to expand public access, increase recreational and educational opportunities, and preserve and restore natural areas, including wetland and wildlife habitat in Jamaica Bay,” said Tom Secunda, chairman of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
TNC and NPS will call for volunteers to help plant more than 20,000 trees and shrubs within the next few years. The work is expected to begin in the fall of 2015 and continue through 2017. The baseline biological monitoring, including surveys of birds, soils, vegetation and insects, is currently taking place.
“This project will have implications beyond Jamaica Bay by demonstrating how land management strategies on coastal parklands and natural areas can enhance their resilience to climate change,” said Emily Nobel Maxwell, director of The Nature Conservancy’s New York City Program.
June 23, 2015
After sustaining damage during hurricane Sandy, the National Parks Service will work with two more groups to ensure the future of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. NY1's Angi Gonzalez filed the following report.
A collaboration by three groups is helping make necessary changes at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Broad Channel.
"With more frequent flooding, sea levels rising and more sever storms in New York City, this work has the potential for application across New York City's more than 500 miles of coastland," New York Director of the Nature Conservancy Bill Ulfelder said of a new initiative announced on Monday.
The Nature Conservancy, using a $500,000 grant from the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, will work with the National Parks Service to make sure the preserve is around for future generations.
The National Parks Service has also secured another $300,000 for the effort.
"We've been working on selecting a palette of species that will help create more biodiversity and sustainable ecosystem," Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jen Nersesian said of the nearly 20,000 new trees and shrubs that will be planted at the preserve.
The public will be able to help out with the efforts as the National Parks service says they'll need volunteers to help plant the native plant species they plan to add to the refuge over the next two years.
Beach Grass and More Beach Grass
December 12, 2014
Two back-to-back planting events this past weekend added approximately 30,000 more grass culms to the berm in Belle Harbor.
On Saturday December 6th, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) with Bloomberg L.P. volunteers returned to continue planting American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata).
The harvested culms arrived in an NYC Parks truck and were unloaded in bundles. Some volunteers dug holes in the ground while others quickly followed their trails–dropping plugs in one by one then securely compacting the sand around them.
"Through JBRPC's partnership with Bloomberg, our incredible volunteers have planted more than 100,000 culms this year to help stabilize Rockaway's dunes," said Jackie Snyder, the conservancy's Executive Director. "Today, they even worked through the rain to complete the entire block."
It took an estimated 20,000 plugs to fill the area between Beach 144th and 145th.
For Jill Weber, Parks Administrator for the Rockaways since 2006, this would be her final day out in the field. She has been quite involved with coordinating and participating alongside volunteers during her years with the NYC Parks Department. "I just planted my last plant and I'm happy I got to do it with all of you," said Weber in a closing remark. She will be relocating to Nassau County to serve as the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the Town of North Hempstead.
NYC Parks held their own community beach grass planting event the following morning. The same well-stocked truckload of culms were used and similar methods got the plugs into the ground.
Elizabeth Jordan, Senior Project Manager for the Rockaway Beach Reconstruction Project, returned from the previous day in addition to members of Partnerships for Parks, a joint program between City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks. Michael Mullaley, Partnership for Parks Seasonal Corporate Program Assistant, briefly described the nonprofit organization's volunteer mobilization mission–directing New Yorkers towards opportunities to engage in the community building efforts happenng around them. Rockaway residents from different parts of the peninsula and two volunteers from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn attended.
The smaller team (than that of the day before), got started on the block between Beach 143rd-144th, which now remains partially covered as a dune-in-progress. About 10,000 plugs were planted in that section.
Towards the end of Sunday's planting, two passerby incidentally stopped to ask questions and decided to help out. "We plant them while they're dormant." explained Jordan. They reawaken later in the spring, and their roots begin to take hold underground.
Planting Seeds for Resiliency
November 21, 2014
Forty thousand beach grass plugs were installed on the berm between Beach 134 and 132 streets in Belle Harbor on this past Sunday morning.
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) brought volunteers from Bloomberg L.P.'s Philanthropy and Engagement Program out to Rockaway to plant the plugs. Parks Department staff and Belle Harbor residents also lent a hand in the effort. Altogether, the group of about 30 people equipped the designated segment of slope with rows of grass culms in just a few hours.
Continuing from where Parks left off the previous day, Sunday's planting was part of the ongoing large-scale project of providing the coastline with a resilient dune barrier, which is essential for protection against flooding caused by coastal storms.
One of the features of American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata) is that it helps in establishing stable dunes with a rhizomatic root like stem that spreads underground and propogates, producing more of it.
Vigorous growth enables the plant to withstand heavy deposits of sand and advance up through it. Once reaching a height of 2-3 feet, the grass further builds the dunes by trapping windblown sand and holding it in place with the fibrous root system.
An ability to withstand tough conditions such as wind, drought, and salt spray make this beach grass formidable infantry against potential threats of the ocean.
Its planting period is late fall to early spring, excluding times when soil is frozen. The dormant culms that were planted by participants came from Cape May Plant Material Center in New Jersey, but JBRPC harvests beach grass at the 3.25-acre nursery within Gateway National Recreation Area's Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park as well.
The nursery was created in partnership with the National Parks Service, NYC Parks and the Natural Areas Conservancy.
Volunteers from Bloomberg L.P. will return in December to plant more beach grass.
NYC Parks has another day of planting scheduled for Dec. 7. To register as a volunteer, visit www.nycgovparks.org/reg/beach-grass/525.
July 23, 2014
Many of New York’s gallery-owners and gallery-goers decamp to the Hamptons come July, but this summer one of the area’s best arts festivals—one with particularly strong local roots—is taking place within the five boroughs. Rockaway! celebrates the ongoing rebuilding of the Rockaway peninsula after its ravaging by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and in particular the reopening of Fort Tilden, an army base turned national park that was damaged by the storm.
It is the brainchild of Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1 (an art institution), and Patti Smith, who both have homes on this 11-mile sliver of land that forms the southern rim of New York City. It was a rather sleepy place until a wave of gentrification started lapping at its edges, bringing beach-loving Brooklynites with it. But the peninsula really hit the news when Sandy crashed over its shores. Ms Smith, who bought a home there just weeks before the storm came, saw at first hand its impact on her own home and those of friends and neighbours, and was moved to act.
Together with the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, Ms Smith and Mr Biesenbach organised and curated the festival. But it is Ms Smith’s art, and indeed her very presence in Rockaway, that give the event its backbone. She makes deft use of the fort, which was established in the first world war, decommissioned in 1974 and then incorporated into the National Park Service. It has served as a base for the RAA for the past 19 years, and for Rockaway! the walls of the main exhibition hall have been lined with Ms Smith’s photography. The images consist of objects dear to their owners, much like the personal treasures washed away by Sandy. They include Virginia Woolf’s cane, Victor Hugo’s desk, Robert Graves’s hat and William Burroughs’ bandana.
Yet it is an installation of Ms Smith’s, in a long-abandoned building where locomotives were once repaired, that is most poignant. On entering, visitors see a gilded four-poster bed dressed with white linen (pictured above). Named “The Resilience of the Dreamer”, the bed is exposed to the elements that breeze through the broken windows and roof, amid debris that long ago developed its own ecosystem. Ms Smith has also left more subtle traces throughout the building, such as graffiti quoting Walt Whitman or phrases about resilience.
Whitman serves as a sort of patron saint of these exhibits. His poetry was read out at the festival's launch by Ms Smith (pictured below in Rockaway) and James Franco. And his verse has also been written on granite stones found along the fort's trails, encouraging an impromptu scavenger hunt through the grounds. Sculptures by Adrián Villar Rojas, an Argentinean, add nuance to the idea of exploration. Placed throughout the fort, they recall the nests of tiny Argentinean birds known as horneros and invite local birds to nest inside.
These should be sufficient enticement to go to Rockaway, but it is Janet Cardiff’s masterpiece, the "Forty Piece Motet" installed in the fort’s chapel (and on show until August 17th), that is the best reason to head there soon. On loan from MoMA, Ms Cardiff’s transcendent reworking of “Spem in Alium” by Thomas Tallis consists of 40 speakers arranged in a circle in the middle of the chapel, with each one playing one of the voices singing Tallis’s work. Both disorienting and beautiful, a motet that was composed for a cathedral plays perfectly in this small, fragile, still damaged room. New Yorkers may find that the Hamptons offer a more glamorously arty buzz, but at Rockaway! the buzz is of a rather different kind: community-generated and collaborative, oriented to the public as a whole rather than to an exclusive group, and steeped in local history.
Rockaway! runs until September 1st on the Rockaway peninsula.
The Rockaway Times
July 3, 2014
The smell of burning sage permeated the air as the sun set over Rockaway on Sunday evening. A huge crowd had amassed for the final event of the opening day of Rockaway!: a poetry reading by recording artist Patti Smith and actor James Franco.
The mostly young crowd that had assembled, many of whom had been bussed and ferried in from Manhattan and Brooklyn, helped transform Fort Tilden into a scene that seemed almost reminiscent of Woodstock, except perhaps a little more low-key.
The spoken word performance marked the end of a successful first day for the summerlong art show, which runs until September 1. MoMA PS1 Director Klaus Biesenbach shared with the audience some of the story that led up to the creation of Rockaway!: how he and Franco surprised Smith on her birthday just weeks after Hurricane Sandy had devastated the peninsula, how they drove around Rockaway and found toys and photo albums left behind on the ground, how they came across a pile of old mattresses on the beach.
“Knowing Patti, and know how much a bed is a safe place to be warm and dry — I think that really inspired her,” Biesenbach said, referring to the artist’s outdoor installation, the “Resilience of the Dreamer,” a four-post bed set up in an abandoned warehouse.
Smith and Franco alternated between reading several Whitman poems during the performance. Smith had also used the American poet as inspiration for another installation: granite cubes dotted along the shoreline inscribed with lines from Whitman. After the poems, Smith performed a short concert alongside her guitarist Lenny Kaye and her daughter and keyboardist, Jesse Paris Smith.
Smith, known best for her song “Because the Night” dedicated a song to the audience: “We all have dreams,” she said. “We all have loss and failure, and we go on and rebuild our lives. “Her last song, “People have the power” even featured a special guest: Michael Stipe, the former front man of REM, who, according to Smith, helped with cleanup after Sandy.
Julia Donohue, 28, who lives in Astoria, said she came to Rockaway for the full day, having spent the morning at the beach and the afternoon touring the art exhibits. “I had to stay for Patti Smith,” she said. “My parents listened to her when I was growing up so I love her too. I can’t believe I just got to see her.”
Michael Garcia, who moved to New York City a year ago from Texas, said Sunday was the first time he’d ever been to Rockaway. “I didn’t realize New York basically has a beach town,” he said. “It seems like it’s almost been a secret.” He said that he will continue to visit Rockaway in the future. “I’ll definitely be back this summer,” he said. “I’d come out here every weekend if I could.”
Mary Carlson, 47, of Far Rockaway said she is excited to see so many new visitors to the peninsula. “Rockaway is beautiful and it’s my home,” she said. “I’m happy to share it with others. Those of us who are from here — we’re going to benefit from that.”
Mark Evans, 63, of Arverne, echoed similar sentiments. “We’re friendly in Rockaway,” he said. “As long as visitors are respectful and clean, we’re happy to have them.”
The Rockaway Times
July 3, 2014
Rockaway! deserved its exclamation point! The opening of the art show, Rockaway!, made the peninsula the place to be on Sunday. Locals as well as thousands of visitors (DFDs), from far and wide, spent the day in Fort Tilden to experience a lot of art and a little bit of music.
The show supports the reopening of Fort Tilden as well as other recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy. It’s also an opportunity to introduce outsiders to the peninsula.
The creative forces behind the show are rock star and artist Patti Smith as well as Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1, both of whom have homes in Rockaway.
The show, open until September 1, is a joint collaboration between the Rockaway Artists Alliance, MoMA PS1, the National Park Service, the Honolulu Biennial and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
The centerpiece of the show is Patti Smith’s own “The Resilience of the Dreamer,” an ornate, golden four-post bed draped in sheer white linens, placed at the center an abandoned automotive repair station still filled with junk. The bed juxtaposed against the industrial warehouse is startling.
Over time, the bed will deteriorate, but will remain in place, a metaphor for the residents of the peninsula and the struggles they have faced since trying to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.
Betty Harrington, who lives in Rockaway, said she was grateful toward Smith. “Her work is beautiful,” she said. “She’s bringing so much needed attention down here. I wish these exhibits were permanent.” She said that while her home was not badly damaged during the storm, she has seen how it has affected local residents’ lives both immediately afterward as well as now, nearly two years later. “It’s been devastating,” she said.
The Rockaway Beach Surf Club, on Beach 87th Street, will also house a group exhibition of local and international artists. Those works are largely beach and surf-inspired.
In a separate solo project, the Argentinian artist Adrian Villar Rojas created small sculptures inspired by nests created by “horneros,” a type of Argentinian bird. The sculptures are located throughout Fort Tilden. Locating some of them in some obscure spots (high up in a broken window frame in the warehouse) was a fun challenge for many visitors.
In an additional solo project, the Fort Tilden chapel had been renovated and became the stage for Janet Cardiff’s “40 Part Motet,” an 14-minute sound installation that is a recording of a choir performing “Spem in Alium,” a composition written 500 years ago. Each individual voice emanates from a separate speaker, and together the voices they create a beautiful harmony, an ethereal sound that seems to fill the chapel. Visitors have the opportunity to either walk up to each speaker to focus on one voice or sit on a bench at the center of the space. The installation, created in 2001, had previously been housed at the Cloisters in Manhattan.
Melissa Day, 24, of Brooklyn, said the sound installation was her favorite piece in the entire Rockaway! show. “It was absolutely moving,” she said. “It was so powerful, it was like a religious experience. I’m going to tell the rest of my friends to come see it.”
Cardiff herself was at the Sunday exhibit. She remarked that Fort Tilden might not no longer be be one of New York’s best kept secrets.
Jacob McKinnon, 28, came all the way from Manhattan to see the show and spend the day at the beach. “These are big names, this is a big deal,” he said about the show. “We’ve got great art, food the beach,” he continued, gesturing around Fort Tilden. “This is why New York is great.”
In the evening, actor James Franco read poetry from a stage set up before a few thousand people. And Patti Smith sung a number of songs. An after party, celebrating the successful debut was held at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club.
July 3, 2014
They came by bus; they came by car, by bike, on foot, by ferry, by shuttle, train and even by sailboat.
They came from up and down the Rockaway peninsula, Broad Channel, and even neighboring states.
On June 29, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, visitors came by the thousands to Rockaway! a summer arts festival mounted by the Museum of Modern Art and the Rockaway Artists Alliance at Fort Tilden. Other major partners in the project included the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service (NPS).
Although more exact numbers are not yet available, some estimates put the visitor figure at 5,000 for the free opening day event. The exhibitions were so popular that people waited in line to experience works by the internationally known artists Janet Cardiff, Patti Smith and Adrian Villar Rojas. Some works were on loan from MoMA and the Robert Miller Gallery, while others were created specifically for this arts festival. The entire exhibition was conceived and curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Director of PS1, Curator at Large for MoMA and Rockaway resident.
Both Smith and Cardiff came to the festival and toured the exhibitions.
Over the day visitors of all ages enjoyed free ices and water, a variety of food trucks, kids’ activities at RAA, demonstrations by NPS and performances by the Rockaway Theatre Company. RTC also had cast members in full costume roaming and mingling with the crowd. As visitors took in the exhibitions, enjoyed the activities, chatted with the RAA volunteers at each gallery and explored the now fully reopened Fort Tilden, those who came were overwhelmingly positive about the event and Rockaway.
The day concluded with remarks from the outdoor stage by Biesenbach, Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jen Nersesian, RAA President Dan Guarino, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Agnes Gund, founder of the Agnes Gund Foundation and President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art. The sizeable audience, stretched far across the grassy grounds between the Rockaway Theater and the Chapel building, was then treated to a Walt Whitman poetry reading by actor James Franco and artist, author and singer Patti Smith. Franco came in directly after finishing a Broadway performance of “Of Mice And Men.”
As the sun set Patti Smith took to the stage to close out the day by performing songs with guitarist Lenny Kaye and keyboard player, her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith. On her last number, which she invited the whole audience to sing, she was joined by surprise guest Michael Stipe, of R.E.M.
After the festivities at Fort Tilden, many moved on to the packed Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Also a part of the Rockaway! summer long arts festival, the Surf Club is hosting an exhibition with the Honolulu Biennial, which includes works of local as well as international artists.
Rockaway! will be on view at the Surf Club and also at the Rockaway Artists Alliance galleries through Labor Day, September 1. RAA will be open on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 6 p.m.
As the huge crowds left Fort Tilden, organizers agreed that the opening event was an overwhelming success. They also agreed this was a very positive start of many collaborative projects to come and a very positive development for Rockaway.
New York Times Magazine
June 30, 2014
The Rockaway arts festival — a free public event on the Queens peninsula conceived by two of the neighborhood’s notable residents, the MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach and Patti Smith, in conjunction with the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy — opened to the public at Fort Tilden yesterday. The festival, which is on view through September 1, incorporates site-specific installations and a photography exhibit by Smith that pay homage to the Sandy-ravaged community’s resilience. Also on view are sculptures by the Argentine artist Adrián Villar Rojas designed to invite bird nesting; a sound-art piece by Janet Cardiff, “The Forty Part Motet;” and a group show at the newly restored Rockaway Beach Surf Club. The opening day festivities included a poetry reading by Smith and James Franco and performances by the Rockaway Theatre Company — all of which, combined with the perfect summer weather, drew a vibrant crowd to one of New York’s most unique historical sites.
June 30, 2014
NY1 VIDEO: A park in the Rockaways that was once an army base is celebrating its comeback after Hurricane Sandy, showing art work from some well-known names. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
From the top of Battery Harris at Fort Tilden, the Manhattan skyline seems close enough to touch, but remote enough to avoid all the hustle and bustle. “There’s phenomenal natural environment around here," says Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jen Nersesian.
Fort Tilden Beach was closed last summer because of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. It recently reopened, and a free public arts festival simply called "Rockaway!" helps celebrates that. “It’s been a really powerful way, through art—really place based art—to really connect the public with what we offer here," Nersesian says. The National Park Service is hosting the installation, which partners the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, MoMa PS1 and the Rockaway Artists Alliance.
It was conceived by MoMa PS 1 director and Rockaway resident Klaus Biesenbach in collaboration with artist Patti Smith, who performed at Sunday's opener. She has a home in the Rockaways.
It features her work called "Resilience of the Dreamer," which includes a bed inside a former locomotive repair shop.
"It has beautiful white linens on it and you can this beautiful white kind of falling, cascading fabric that really lends it its dream-like quality," says Rockaway Artists Alliance Director Christine Mullally. There are also a collection of Smith's photos, plus five granite stones engraved with the poetry of Walt Whitman. Inside a chapel, a musical piece gives each member of a choir its own speaker.
Christine Mullally says she hopes visitors will see the beauty of the Rockaways, but the art is also for many who are still trying to bounce back from Sandy.” I really am hoping that everyone in the Rockaway community—which is a large peninsula of thousands of people—that everybody comes and takes this opportunity to see some international artwork," Mullally says.
June 27, 2014
Rockaway! the largest arts festival ever to come to the peninsula, is opening this Sunday, June 29.
The far-reaching, multi-artist, multivenue, free exhibition will run from June 29 through to Labor Day, September 1. Spread over several buildings and the historic grounds of Fort Tilden as well as the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, it will feature works by music legend and Rockaway resident Patti Smith, Canadian artist Janet Cardiff, Adrian Villar Rojas of Argentina and also the Honolulu Biennial.
Several works, from Smith and Rojas, have been uniquely created for Rockaway! Others, like Janet Cardiff’s “Forty Piece Motet” which was last seen at The Cloisters, are on special loan to exhibition host The Rockaway Artists Alliance from the Museum of Modern Art collection.
Several buildings at Fort Tilden, including the Chapel, the T-6 gallery and T-9, a former locomotive repair facility, are opening up to the public, in some cases for the first time, for this exhibition.
The Rockaway! Opening Day event is an opportunity for the National Park Service, Rockaway Artists Alliance, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and MoMA PS1 to join other Fort Tilden partners, festival supporters and Rockaway residents to kick-off the Rockaway! public art festival and celebrate the reopening of historic Fort Tilden. Formerly an active military base, the Fort is now known as Rockaway’s urban park.
The Sunday opening event is family focused, with children’s art activities, baseball clinics, orienteering, historical tours and theater performances.
For the big day, the Rockaway Artists Alliance, the host of the exhibition, will be joined by its neighbors and Fort Tilden partners, the Rockaway Little League and Rockaway Theatre Company. The Rockaway Little League will be fielding pick-up baseball games and their ‘taste of the ball park’ concession will be open. The Rockaway Theatre Company will be presenting scenes from their past, present and future musical productions.
The Rockaway Artists Alliance will host children’s activities in their T-149 kidsmART program building, which will also allow parents to go and view the rest of the exhibitions.
The National Park Service will have camping, kayaking and outdoor activities demonstrations all day long. Throughout the day, food vendors will be situated throughout Fort Tilden.
The opening day is an opportunity for local residents to be the first to experience this innovative art festival, which runs through Labor Day. The festivities at Fort Tilden close with a poetry reading by Rockaway resident and punk rock legend Patti Smith and a special appearance from actor James Franco, but the party continues after-hours at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club.
The Rockaway! festival and exhibition is in part a direct outgrowth of an unprecedented partnership forged between the National Park Service and the City of New York to unite and revitalize the parks around Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula. It is also the first large-scale public program hosted by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, a public-private organization created to support the federal local partnership.
Rockaway! the wide ranging, summer long free public contemporary art festival/exhibition kicks off with a grand opening celebration this Sunday, June 19. Here below is a schedule of events for the daylong event.
ROCKAWAY! OPENING DAY
Sunday, June 29, 12 – 8 p.m.
Fort Tilden, Gateway National
• Parking shuttle begins operation
from Riis Beach (continuous
loop until 8:15 p.m.)
• Fort Tilden event opens!
• Rockaway Little League concessions
open at RLL clubhouse
• Food trucks begin operation
• Free water, lemonade at Rockaway
Artists Alliance T-7 Gallery
• Children’s art activities: Rockaway
Artists Alliance, Building T149
(ongoing until 4 p.m.)
• Baseball clinic: Rockaway Little League,RLL field (30-40 minutes)
• Theater performances: Rockaway
Theatre Company, RTC Theater
• Historical tours of Fort Tilden:
NPS Rangers, outdoor stage area
• Orienteering course: NYC Urban Park
Rangers, outdoor stage area
(ongoing until 4pm)
• Camping/kayaking demonstrations:
NPS, outdoor stage area
(ongoing until 4pm)
• Baseball clinic: Rockaway Little League,
RLL field (30-40 minutes)
• Theater performances: Rockaway
Theater Company, RTC building
• Historical tours of Fort Tilden: NPS,
outdoor stage area (30 minutes)
• Baseball clinic: Rockaway Little League,
RLL field (30-40 minutes)
• Theater performances: Rockaway
Theater Company, RTC building
• Historical tours of Fort Tilden: NPS,
departing from outdoor stage area
• Children’s activities end
• Performance: Patti Smith and James
Franco, spoken word (outdoor stage)8 p.m.:
• Fort Tilden event closes
• Rockaway Beach Surf Club party
• Last shuttle departs Fort Tilden
for Riis Beach parking lot
ROCKAWAY! PARKING AND
PUBLIC TRANSIT INFO:
NOTE: Parking at Fort Tilden is limited,
but there is plenty at Riis Beach
\(cost is $10 per vehicle).
There will be shuttle service
from Riis Beach parking lot
to Fort Tilden.
VISITORS ARE ENCOURAGED
TO TAKE MASS TRANSIT
Bike racks will be available at key
locations around Fort Tilden.
The New York Times
June 26, 2014
Patti Smith has been visiting the Rockaways in Queens since the 1970s, when she would venture around the secluded Fort Tilden, the national park and beach, with Robert Mapplethorpe.“It had the most beautiful dunes,” she said wistfully.
Ms. Smith, the musician, artist and writer, became a Rockaway resident in 2012, renovating a home across from the beach just before Hurricane Sandy hit. Her place suffered damage, but nothing compared with neighbors’ houses, which were destroyed by flood and fire. “We went around after the storm, and it was heartbreaking,” she said, mentioning “people’s broken dishes and melted dolls.”
Mattresses, appliances and other household wreckage were piled around Jacob Riis Park, and debris littered Fort Tilden, a grim restricted site for months afterward. Ms. Smith and her friend Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1, whose bayside home is a few blocks from hers, were part of the relief effort. Mr. Biesenbach, especially, emerged as a force able to pull together celebrity friends and disparate groups active in the recovery to help. Now Ms. Smith and Mr. Biesenbach are responding not just as citizens but also as artistic torchbearers, creating a site-specific festival to celebrate their adopted community and the reopening of Fort Tilden.
Patti Smith and Klaus Biesenbach have teamed up to start a new festival to celebrate the re-opening of Fort Tilden and their adopted community in the Rockaways.
Put together in just a few months, Rockaway! (the exclamation point is theirs) begins on Sunday and runs through Sept. 1, with a full schedule that includes installations and photography by Ms. Smith, an immersive sound piece by Janet Cardiff and sculpture by the Argentine artist Adrián Villar Rojas in and around Fort Tilden, and a satellite exhibition of art at Rockaway Beach Surf Club. It represents an unusually nimble partnership between the transplants, Ms. Smith and Mr. Biesenbach, and the local occupants: the long-running Rockaway Artists Alliance, the National Park Service and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. On a tight-knit peninsula that has recently undergone not only a natural disaster but also sometimes tense demographic, economic and social shifts, the organizers are hoping the festival will appeal to everyone.
“The work has to be lofty; the work has to stand alone,” Mr. Biesenbach said in his German-accented English. “But it also has to serve the people, presented in a way that’s memorable and seductive to the people. Also safe.” The festival is free and open to the public. But transforming the site, parts of which have never been used for events on this scale and some of which remain damaged by the storm, proved daunting.
The challenge served as inspiration, Ms. Smith said recently, as she picked through the rubble in a former automotive warehouse she is using for her main installation, deciding what should go and what should stay.
“Our friends and neighbors are making the same decisions in their homes,” she said. Debris encroaches on a four-poster bed covered in a cascading sheer white fabric, which she rinsed to soften. Titled “The Resilience of the Dreamer,” her piece is inspired by the domestic lives exposed by the storm — the destroyed mattresses piled by the beach, for example — and by the emotional significance of the bedroom. (She writes in bed a lot, she said.) Exposed to the elements, the bed will be transformed over time, even as it remains rooted in the crumbling, graffiti-covered building.
“It’s a metaphor for the area,” she said. “Everyone’s dreaming of redoing their house. But we can’t take nature out of the equation, because we live by the sea.”
The Rockaways are dotted with improvements made post-Sandy: new stretches of boardwalk and modern beach buildings. But it is still in recovery mode. “We were crippled,” said Brandon d’Leo, an owner of Rockaway Beach Surf Club, a bohemian hangout a few blocks offshore. Mr. d’Leo didn’t reopen until mid-August last year, he said. He hopes that hosting an exhibition for the festival — including work from the Bruce High Quality Foundation, Olaf Breuning, Tom Sachs (who has a home nearby) and Elizabeth Peyton — will attract a new crowd and send a message about the Rockaways. “It’s not just a beach place; it’s a place where you could get world-class culture,” he said.
For Jackie Snyder, executive director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, a newly created public-private partnership, the festival was a smooth fit. “It made sense to work together,” she said, adding, “I don’t think anyone can say no to Klaus.”
Mr. Biesenbach, an avid gardener whose yard is filled with exotic plants, seems at home here. He traverses the neighborhood on a rusty bicycle, stopping often to take nature-scene photos, like birds nesting on the beach. As personally engaged as if assembling a museum retrospective, he conceptualized Rockaway! with Ms. Smith and presided over regular planning meetings. He even took the cover photo for the festival’s brochure, an image of an abandoned building on a wind-swept Rockaway beach.
“There’s something magical about this area,” he said, as he and Ms. Smith tooled around.
It fell to Jennifer T. Nersesian, superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes Fort Tilden, to make certain that the landscape will not be damaged by the sprawling event. She went to a meeting of black-clad curatorial assistants at PS1 in her federal parks department uniform.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said of the attention and resources needed for the festival. “But this helps connect people to the place and opens the door for them to form their own attachment.” Before the storm, she added, “Tilden had sort of just been discovered; visitorship was on a sharp increase.” It’s rebounding, though the Army Corps of Engineers is still restoring the dunes and sand to 1970s levels, which requires an unsightly pipe on the beach.
To entice explorers, Ms. Smith had blocks of granite inscribed with Walt Whitman poetry placed along the waterfront path. “It all explains the connection between man and nature, a natural fit for someplace like a national park,” Ms. Nersesian said.
Ms. Cardiff’s “The Forty Part Motet,” a ghostly choral installation that emanates from 40 speakers, is set in a former military chapel whose walls and paint had to be replaced for the show.
“Everything is sturdy and humble,” Ms. Smith said, as she and Mr. Biesenbach walked around the rehabbed buildings in Fort Tilden, which Rockaway Artists Alliance has long used as a gallery space. (Photographs by Ms. Smith will hang there.) “I like that. That’s why I like it around here.”
“This is the transformative power of art,” she said. “We’re making the space better than we found it, not just philosophically or poetically or spiritually better, but practically better.”
That sense of renewal is what the alliance and festival organizers sought, building on the budding art scene. This month Topless Gallery — the name is a wink to the nudity on Fort Tilden’s beach — opened to crowds in a former law library, steps from Rockaway Taco, the epicenter of the area’s cool weekender revival. The gallery’s artist-founders, Brent Birnbaum, 36, and Jenni Crain, 23, expect to show mostly work from outside the peninsula.
“Someone has yelled ‘hipster!’ at me,” said Mr. Birnbaum, who has piercings and a man-bun and moved to the Rockaways last year from Greenpoint, Brooklyn. But he added that he had found the neighbors welcoming and that the economics were such that he didn’t need to sell much art to survive. With its 62-inch watermark from Sandy still visible, the pop-up gallery will be open on weekends.
Patrick Clark, 60, a stained-glass artist who has lived in the Rockaways for 28 years, said he was energized by the influx of young creators, though he acknowledges what it may foretell. “I’ll be gentrified out of here in a couple of years,” he said. “But I’d rather see the neighborhood come to life, even if it means I’ll have to go.”
Jogging on the new boardwalk with her children, LaToya Shaw, 28, who works in child care, cheered the festival. “It’s bringing people together, it’s attracting the right elements,” showing, she said, that for her community, Sandy “was a setback, but it didn’t break us.”
Rockaway!, a free public arts festival, opens on Sunday with a poetry reading from James Franco and spoken-word performance from Patti Smith. It continues through Sept. 1. momaps1.org/rockaway1.
The Rockaway Times
June 25, 2014
Rockaway gets to be a brand new canvas. Sunday marks the arrival of Rockaway! an arts festival sure to attract visitors from around the world.
Rockaway! — exclamation point and all – comes via an unprecedented collaboration. The Rockaway Artists Alliance, MoMA PS1, the National Park Service, the Honolulu Biennial and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) joined together to launch the summertime festival.
“These are all groups that are really interested in supporting the Rockaways,” Jackie Snyder, the executive director of the JBRPC, said. “They’re all working to support the communities out there, working to improve public park lands and make it a destination for other New Yorkers who maybe don’t know how spectacular the Rockaways are.”
Rockaway! will feature artists both international and local, including rock star Patti Smith, who helped developed the idea for the show, alongside Rockaway resident Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1 and a Rockaway resident, himself.
Smith’s work in the show will include an outdoor installation, titled “The Resilience of the Dreamer.” Inside a run-down abandoned building she will install a four-post bed and linens. The bed will deteriorate over time, a representation of the fortitude of Rockaway and its relationship with the elements.
Smith’s work will also include an exhibition of photographs of objects that held significance for their well-known owners: Virginia Woolf’s bed and Frida Kahlo’s corset are among the photos.
Within the military chapel at Fort Tilden will be a sound installation from the MoMA collection, “The Forty Piece Motet” by Janet Cardiff,” which was previously on display at the Cloisters.
There will be a third solo project, by the Argentinian artist Adrian Villar Rojas. Throughout Fort Tilden, the artists will have on display small sculptures inspired by birds nests created by Argentinian birds called “horneros.”
The Rockaway Beach Surf Club, on Beach 87th Street, will host a group exhibition of local and international artists whose work is beach-inspired and surf-related. The Surf Club, which was recently restored, operated as a relief center immediately after Hurricane Sandy.
The show will support the reopening of Fort Tilden and other post-Sandy recovery efforts. It’s also a way to introduce Rockaway to individuals from outside of the peninsula and allow them to experience the incredible view at the Harris battery, Snyder said.
“We’re interested in getting people from outside of the community who may or may not go the Rockaways or with any frequency and give them a reason to go out,” she said. “People who aren’t so familiar with it can see what a great place it is, as well as support the economy and help Rockaway do great things.”
The exhibit, which is free, begins June 29 and will run until September 1.
Schedule of events for Sunday, June 29
Noon – 8 p.m.: Exhibitions on view at Fort Tilden Family-friendly activities
7 p.m.: Spoken word performance by Patti Smith
Poetry reading by James Franco
8 p.m. – midnight: After party at Rockaway Beach Surf Club
June 20, 2014
NY1 VIDEO: Starting next weekend, for two months, a free arts festival will take place in Queens celebrating the opening of Fort Tilden and the ongoing recovery of the Rockaway Peninsula. NY1's Anthony Pascale spoke with Angela Goding, director of development at MoMA PS1, and Jackie Snyder, executive director of the Jamaica Bay - Rockaway Parks Conservancy, about the event. - See more at: http://queens.ny1.com/content/news/210882/free-arts-festival-celebrates-opening-of-fort-tilden--recovery-of-rockaway-peninsula/#sthash.JQCVABDh.dpuf
Art in America
June 12, 2014
Summer shows of artworks by Janet Cardiff, Adrián Villar Rojas and Patti Smith will celebrate ongoing post-Superstorm Sandy recovery on New York's Rockaway peninsula, in the borough of Queens.
MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach and Smith, both of whom have homes in the area, have organized Rockaway!, a public arts festival consisting of several exhibitions that will mark the reopening of Fort Tilden, a historic Army battalion and its surrounding beachfront park that suffered severe erosion during the 2012 storm. In collaboration with the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservatory (JBRPC), the event (June 29-Sept. 1) will feature work by both international and local artists.
The festival will be hosted in the public gallery at Fort Tilden, which has been run for 19 years by the RAA. Smith plans to exhibit three works, including The Resilience of the Dreamer, a site-specific installation that will place a gilded four-post bed within an abandoned park building. She'll also show photography depicting personal objects of great importance to their owners—poet Robert Graves's hat and artist Frida Kahlo's corset, among others.
A series of sculptures by the Argentinean artist Rojas will address the ecological rebuilding of the area. The fort's chapel will host Cardiff's sound installation The Forty Part Motet, which adapts a 16th-century vocal piece, giving a microphone to each voice of a 40-member choir.
A short distance down the beach, in a recently restored surf culture staple, will be a group show of Rockaway artists in collaboration with the Honolulu Biennial (whose first outing will be in 2016). The Rockaway Beach Surf Club served as one of the largest relief centers for area residents during the storm and its aftermath. The exhibition will highlight the rebuilding efforts of Rockaway surfers and artists.
This summer exhibition series is the second project undertaken by MoMA PS1 in the Rockaways. In March of last year, the museum coordinated the construction of the temporary VW Dome cultural center. Through June of 2013, the structure acted as a space for contemporary art performances and as a platform for neighborhood voices.