Monday, April 18, 2011

Tempers Flare Over Jamaica Bay Airport Expansion by Erica Sherman - Sheepshead Bay News Blog

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Members of the Jamaica Bay Task Force Group (JBTF) hosted a meeting last week to decry plans calling for the destruction of 400 acres of Jamaica Bay wetlands to clear the path for a runway expansion project at John F. Kennedy Airport.
More than 150 people, including the JBTF — a cadre of citizenry, scientists, and federal, state, regional, and local agency representatives, staunchly guarding the wildlife refuge for more than 20 years — crowded into the American Legion Hall at 209 Crossbay Boulevard in the Broad Channel section of Queens during what was, at times, a heated dialogue over the Regional Plan Association’s (RPA) report, “Upgrading to World Class – The future of the New York Regions Airports” (pages 150 to 154), which proposes eliminating a sizeable acreage of “what is not simply New York City’s ecological crown jewel but a wetlands and estuarine area of national importance,” according to a press release from NYC Park Advocates.
“One of the major shortcomings of the report was that actual users, including environmentalists and civic organizations were not consulted,” said Geoffrey Croft, the president of NYC Park Advocate, of the report, developed by a conglomerate of multi-tiered stakeholders from all levels of government and funded by the Port Authority.
Croft’s blog A Walk in the Park reports that attendees delivered impassioned pleas, and one — Daniel Mundy, Jr. vice president of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and president of Broad Channel Civic Association — even presented a PowerPoint presentation refuting the alleged findings of a multitude of the RPA’s “inaccurate air travel projections from prior reports beginning in 1947.”
“The nature of the proposal is outrageous,” said Mundy.
According to the release by NYC Park Advocates, the destruction of the wetlands, “whose federal wildlife refuge is ‘the size of 10 Central Parks,’” would require an act of Congress.
“I am not going to let that happen,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner, of the plan. In a letter voicing their opposition, signed by 21 groups and sent last month to Port Authority Executive Director Christopher O. Ward, they pleaded that the Port Authority “consider other available alternatives for meeting the region’s airport capacity needs.”
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