Tonight: Protect Jamaica Bay From Airport Expansion


Environmentalists, civic groups, local pols and members of the fishing and boating community, outraged over a plan 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, finally have a chance to speak out tonight.  The Jamaica Bay Task Force Group is hosting a town hall meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the American Legion Hall, 209 Crossbay Boulevard in the Broad Channel section of Queens.

The Regional Plan Association’s (RPA) report, entitled “Upgrading to World Class – The future of the New York Regions Airports” (pages 150 to 154), proposed eliminating up to 400 acres of wetlands in Gateway National Park located in Jamaica Bay. That’s got environmental, recreational, and civic groups all fired up, saying it would do irreversible damage to “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.

The host of this meeting, the Jamaica Bay Task Force (JBTF), will probably take a lead organization in battling the proposal. The group, comprised of private citizens, scientists, and federal, state, regional, and local agency representatives, have been standing guard over the wildlife refuge for more than 20 years.

The task force claims that local environmental groups were excluded from giving input on the report, which was developed by a conglomerate of multi-tiered stakeholders from all levels of government and funded by the Port Authority.

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.”

This unprecedented change to a National Park, “whose federal wildlife refuge is ‘the size of 10 Central Parks,’” would need to be approved by an act of Congress.

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