Speak Out Against JFK Runway Expansion Into Gateway National Park

April 7, 2011 at 4:15 PM 3 comments

Environmentalists Speak Out Against JFK Runway Expansion Into Gateway National Park

Who: Representatives from dozens of environmental, recreational, civic groups, agency and elected officials as well as members of the fishing and boating community.

What: Town Hall Meeting Speaking Out Against Port Authority Proposal

Where: American Legion Hall – 209 Crossbay Blvd. Broad Channel  (718) 474 -5029

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7th, 2011

The Jamaica Bay Task Force Group is hosting its first meeting to respond to the highly controversial report by the Regional Plan Association (RPA) which calls for the destruction of up to four hundred acres of wetlands in Gateway National Park  located in Jamaica Bay to accommodate runway expansion at JFK Airport.  An act of Congress would be required to make this unprecedented change to a National Park

Such an expansion of JFK would have unacceptable adverse impacts on Jamaica Bay, irreversibly harming what is not simply New York City’s ecological crown jewel but a wetlands and estuarine area of national importance. Hundreds of acres of the Bay would need to be permanently filled in something currently prohibited by federal law.

Jamaica Bay encompasses more than 25, 000 acres of water, marsh, meadowland, beaches,  dunes and forests in Brooklyn and Queens,  all accessible by subway.  It contains a federal wildlife refuge the size of 10 Central Parks. It provides nursery and foraging, habitat for the region’s fisheries and other marine life.  Bay waters adjacent to JFK are renowned for some of the region’s best fishing for bluefish and striped bass — and is a critical bird habitat area that is visited annually by what is estimated to be nearly 20 percent of North America’s bird species.  It is also home to various endangered and threatened species – from sea turtles to peregrine falcons. Intrusive commercial jet noise would potentially increase Wildlife conflicts with aviation safety. Water pollution from the airport – which currently discharges run-off from the millions of gallons of toxic de-icing fluids used each winter directly into the Bay – would likely increase.

Dozens of environmental, recreational, and civic groups are vehemently opposed to this plan. On March 17, a letter was sent to Port Authority Executive Director Christopher O. Ward  to voice their strong opposition (see attached). The groups are asking that the Port Authority consider other available alternatives for meeting the region’s airport capacity needs. The letter was signed by 21 groups.

The report,”Upgrading to World Class – The future of the New York Regions Airports”  http://www.rpa.org/pdf/RPA-Upgrading-to-World-Class.pdf (pages 150-154) was funded by the Port Authority and developed by a consortium of major federal, state, city and county government stakeholders. No local environmental input was sought.

From NYC Park Advocates Inc. – a non-profit, non-partisan watchdog group dedicated to restoring public funding, improving public parks, increasing public recreation programs, expanding open space and accessibility, and achieving the equitable distribution of these vital services in New York City for all. It is the only non-profit park advocacy group dedicated to all City, State and Federal parkland in New York City.


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mthew  |  April 8, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    It was a good-sized turnout. They had to move the venue to fit the expected crowd. Local politicians, including U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, voiced their opposition to any expansion. Because of the federal enabling legislation for Gateway NRA, it would take a change in federal law to encroach on the Bay now. Regional Planning Association, a traditionally business-friendly organization whose proposal for expansion this meeting was called in response to, was roundly drubbed for half a century of wildly over-stating needed airport capacity. Port Authority, which runs JFK, was slammed for being the biggest polluter of the bay (after our sewage, anyway). Summary of vital habitat of the Bay for humans, over a 100 fish species, 330 bird species, etc. presented. A fisher said the RPA’s description of Grassy Bay, adjacent to JFK, as “dead” was dead wrong, and had many pictures of champion striped bass caught there to prove it. I saw glossy ibis, little blue heron, black-crowned night heron, Wilson’s snipe, and many other bird species at JBWR before the meeting.

    • 2. nycwildflowerweek  |  April 8, 2011 at 4:57 PM

      This is great! Thanks for sharing. If you write up anything about it on your blog can you post a link on NYCWW facebook page? I hope to be able to go next time – found out about it too late for babysitting.

  • 3. mthew  |  April 9, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    I have posted a piece.


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