Southern Brooklyn

Locals Demand More Input On Major Jamaica Bay Projects

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The approximate location of the proposed natural gas pipeline.

Activists faced off with officials at a Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting last week, saying the government is sidelining waterfront communities in order to quietly push through major projects, including a deal to bring a natural gas pipeline to Jamaica Bay.

The Rockaway/Gateway gas pipeline outraged locals due to the fact that Transco Williams — one of the largest interstate gas pipeline systems in the country — could destroy as much as 11,000 feet of the nearby marine environment during the installation, which would ultimately connect Brooklyn and Queens to a major gas artery off the coast. After quiet approval from the U.S. House of Representatives, the plans are heading to the Senate – and no one asked Jamaica Bay’s eco-guardians what they thought.

“[The government and Transco Williams] retain information for themselves in order to issue the right of way for these gas lines,” an attendee argued during the meeting, adding that she had not previously heard of the project.

Though not necessarily opposed to the pipeline, critics of the process demanded more accountability, including information to help assess the affects to marine life and risks of a gas leak.

The concerns were expressed at the April 4 meeting of the Jamaica Bay Task Force, a group of residents, scientists, and federal, state, regional, and local agency representatives that share a common interest in the Bay.

Activists worry that the project could set a precedent for other major projects in Jamaica Bay, letting government agencies and private companies snub the communities that live and work around the waters.

That precedent has locals eyeing the government’s actions in Broad Channel, where two ponds with aging, eroded pumping stations need replacing. But if a contract is awarded without the input of environmentalists, the work could end up disrupting the ponds’ role as a landing and grazing ground for birds and other wildlife.

The pipeline is not the only project that has both residents and elected officials concerned about the federal parkland’s environment – and the community feeling jilted.

Recent talks of a plan to expand John F. Kennedy International Airport’s landing strips, increasing its footprint in Jamaica Bay, had residents fuming.

Experts stated the airport has met its capacity, and spreading into the Bay is inevitable, but residents insist this would have devastating effects on migratory birds and other species that are natives of the land.

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