Friday, May 22, 2015

Schumer urges Department of Interior to restore West Pond


U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the federal government to refurbish the historic Jacob Riis Bathhouse (above) and make improvements to Jamaica Bay's West Pond. Photo Courtesy of flickr/joseph a.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the federal government to refurbish the historic Jacob Riis Bathhouse (above) and make improvements to Jamaica Bay’s West Pond. Photo Courtesy of flickr/joseph a.
A week after he urged the Department of the Interior to make Gateway National Recreation Area more accessible to residents and tourists, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday again called on the federal agency to provide funding to improve the national park by renovating the Jacob Riis Bathhouse and restoring the Jamaica Bay West Pond.
Schumer is asking DOI to refurbish the Bathhouse, which was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy, as “an adaptive, full-functioning facility with a redesigned, resilient ground level for food service, bicycle rental, and other concessions that are currently lacking at the park.” He’s also urging the department to redesign West Pond in a way that will reestablish access to the pond for all visitors and provide greater storm resiliency in the future.
“Sen. Schumer has long been an advocate for Jamaica Bay, and the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers applaud his effort to see this most critical national urban park receive the funding that it so rightly deserves,” said Ecowatcher Dan Mundy, Jr. “The West Pond has long been the crown jewel of this park and the only national wildlife refuge that can be accessed via a subway ride. Once a favorite visiting experience for thousands of New Yorkers it has been mostly off limits since suffering major damage after [Superstorm] Sandy. The West Pond with its famous ‘Loop Trail’ and critical freshwater environment must be restored as soon as possible. Working with our partners in the National Parks Service, and with assistance and leadership of Sen. Schumer, we believe that the West Pond, and the entire Gateway National Park, can be not only restored but become a symbol of what a great national urban park can be for the millions of Americans who live within but a few miles of this national treasure.”
Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay guardian for the American Littoral Society, said the status of the West Pond is incredibly significant.
“Having a large freshwater pond in the middle of a salt marsh estuary has made the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge a mecca for birds and birders alike. Repairing the West Pond is critical to maintaining the Refuge’s international reputation as one of the East Coast’s premier urban hot spots for birds and other wildlife.”
Schumer has said that despite the enormous population surrounding Gateway, the “unique potential of this invaluable urban park is inhibited by inadequate attention to natural and visitor-serving resources.”
Last week, DOI indicated that it had received Schumer’s requests and were taking them under advisement.
By Forum Staff

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