Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gulluscio Offers Testimony At Gateway National Recreation Area

Frank Gulluscio Comments on Gateway’s New Management Plan

Howard Beach resident Frank Gulluscio, the Democratic candidate for the 32nd Council District, attended Gateway National Recreation Area’s meeting Sunday, September 27th at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Gulluscio, submitted comments to Gateway officials regarding their new Management Plan for the park, discussions by the National Park Service are currently underway.

Gateway has begun the process to scope, develop, and prepare a General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, which, according to the National Park Service, will be its “vision for the future.” Gateway’s first General Management Plan was completed 30 years ago in 1979, a few years after the park’s creation.

Some of Gulluscio’s comments focused on the three areas in Howard Beach that are part of Gateway: Charles Park, Hamilton Beach Park, and the Spring Creek area. Gulluscio conveyed to Gateway officials that the expectations area residents had of an increase in recreational opportunities have not yet been met.

Gulluscio said, “Over the past 30 years, since Gateway’s creation, we have seen little improvement within our parks that house our neighborhood recreation areas. Ballfields and tennis courts are in disrepair, erosion continues, and playground areas are not to the standard found in city-owned facilities in neighboring areas. Getting needed repairs fixed takes an inordinate amount of time in the view of community residents. Expectations of enhanced recreational opportunities for local residents in these local area parklands have not been met in over three decades. Spring Creek has essentially been left wild thereby providing no real increase in recreational opportunities for our people.” Gulluscio also indicated to Gateway officials that were present that if elected the Gateway areas in Broad Channel and the Rockaway peninsula would also be locations where he would seek improvements.

Gulluscio also referred Hamilton Beach Park as an “orphan” area where residents strongly believe their calls for improvements have been ignored by Gateway for years. This became evident at the meeting when Gulluscio was examining maps and drawings on display by Gateway, and there were no maps or drawings for Hamilton Beach Park. “That failure to include Hamilton Beach, spoke volumes to me,” Gulluscio said.

Gulluscio also called on Gateway to incorporate enhanced security into its plan for the next few decades. “Inadequate provision for the public safety is a far more serious concern for our local residents today than it was 15, 20, or 25 years ago,” Gulluscio relayed to Gateway officials, “much of the Gateway acreage in the Howard Beach community is located in the Spring Creek area. All of Howard Beach, Broad Channel, and much of the Rockaway peninsula lies under the flight paths of JFK Airport. We consider Gateway to be part of our city’s critical infrastructure and we are far from satisfied that the level of protection in the essentially wild acreage along our shoreline is sufficient. The Management Plan for Gateway must address that critical need.”

The process to develop this new General Management Plan is just in its beginning stages. A draft version should be circulated by the summer of 2011. Gulluscio called upon Gateway to develop better linkages as the process moves forward with local area groups both on the peninsula and in the mainland. Gulluscio also requested that Gateway present their General Management Plan before all New York City Community Boards so as to insure there is adequate local area input. Gulluscio pointed out that “while we understand that Gateway is part of the National Park system and much of its planning is aimed at serving a broad area and preserving open space in its natural state, the track record of Gateway in providing for the recreational needs and desires of the communities in which it sits have been far from acceptable” and more local viewpoints must be better incorporated into Gateway’s planning so that “their vision for the future of Gateway reflects the vision of areas residents.”