Thursday, March 13, 2014

DOT seeks input on Jamaica Bay Greenway proposal

By: Domenick Rafter, Editor  March 13, 2014
The city Department of Transportation will seek public input on its plans to put the finishing touches on a long-proposed greenway around Jamaica Bay that would bring a biking and hiking path through Howard Beach to connect to already existing ones in Broad Channel and along the Belt Parkway.
Alice Friedman and Albert Silvestri, representatives from the DOT, attended last Thursday’s Community Board 10 meeting to announce their plans, which are only in the early stages. They also announced a series of public meetings aiming to get feedback from the communities that would be affected, including Howard Beach.
Ten miles of the proposed 28-mile Jamaica Bay Greenway — first proposed 20 years ago — has been built and connects parkland in Rockaway with Brooklyn and Queens. Part of the greenway that has been built includes the bike path along the Belt Parkway and in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
The public meeting will be held on March 20 at 6:30 p.m. at PS 232 in Lindenwood. Further meetings are slated for March 25 in Rockaway at Scholars’ Academy, 320 Beach 104 St., and in Brooklyn on April 2 at the Carmine Carro Community Center, 300 Fillmore Ave., in Sheepshead Bay and on April 8 at the Brooklyn Sports Club, 1540 Van Siclen Ave., Canarsie.
Friedman said the public will be able to offer ideas as to where the best place for a greenway through Howard Beach would be, what should be constructed along it and what other ideas they may have.
Members of CB 10 expressed some concerns about the plan, including where a greenway would be built in Howard Beach and who would maintain it.
“Some of the route will be built on DOT right of way,” Friedman explained.
Peter Granickas, chairman of CB 10’s Air Pollution Committee, asked who would maintain the greenway, noting that the existing paths along the Belt Parkway are often strewn with trash.
“The portion that’s on DOT property would be cleaned through the regular street-sweeping process,” Friedman said. “The parts that we would be looking to build would be on DOT property.”
She also noted that the Belt Parkway section is not on DOT land.
Granickas asked where those parts would be exactly, noting that existing bike lanes in Howard Beach are on residential streets. Friedman said the DOT would look at “excess” street space that can be utilized.
“Yeah, we don’t have none of that,” Granickas responded.
CB 10 Second Vice Chairman John Calcagnile suggested utilizing Spring Creek Park, slated for a $50 million overhaul by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He noted that building a greenway in the park would connect the Belt Parkway section to the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge and keep the path off residential streets. Friedman acknowledged that using Spring Creek Park is an option, adding that the DOT has been working with state and federal agencies and was aware of the DEC project.
“There is so much attention on various things going on around Jamaica Bay that we want to build on that,” she said.
Friedman added that funding is in place for both the study and the actual project, but did not put a price tag on the plan.
She said whatever input DOT receives at the meetings would be included in the proposals that will be presented to community boards in the fall. Draft plans and a list of priority areas that will be constructed first are scheduled to be released next spring.

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