Jun 28, 2007

Lorna Jordan artist depicts fantasy for Paerdegat Basin
in 1994

The Pull: Wild Gardens at Paerdegat, Brooklyn, NY

Model depicts the sculptural steel magnet; tethered floating islands; and grading of rejuvenated uplands, wetlands, five garden follies, and storm water treatment swales. 22"h x 72"w x 8"d; model of 60-acre site.

Plan depicts sculptural steel magnet; tethered floating islands; rejuvenated uplands and wetlands; five garden follies; and storm water treatment swales.

Materials: colored plan; ink, markers, colored pencil. 36"h x 84"w plan for 60-acre site.

for more on this artists fantasy : click here

Gateway's dirty secret

National park hit by untreated sewage, toxic sediment, trash

Alexander Brash, Northeast regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association, points to floating trash in creek of Gateway National Recreation Area.

One of several sewage treatment plants drain off wastewater into the creek. A sewage treatment plant looms in background of Spring Creek.

A green heron flaps gracefully across a bright blue sky, but on the ground, the scene is far less idyllic.

Decaying car parts litter the banks of Spring Creek, while a neighboring sewage-treatment plant pumps waste into the water. Purple clots of oil float on the surface, above a long, dark strip of sludge being sucked out into Jamaica Bay.

The plant is one of four nearby that discharge about 260 million gallons of treated wastewater into the bay daily, according to the city's Department of Environmental Protection.

During heavy rains, overflow from the plants and from storm drains adds, respectively, untreated sewage and polluted runoff to the mix.

The result, according to a recent report by the National Parks Conservation Association - a nonprofit parks advocacy group - is that the waterways of the Gateway National Recreation Area "are still inundated with treated and untreated sewage, floating trash, industrial waste and toxic sediments."

Spring Creek is one of four city parks to the north of the Belt Parkway near Howard Beach, Queens. To the south is the 26,600-acre Gateway, a national park that spans Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey's Sandy Hook Peninsula.

Gateway was designated a national park in 1972. That year, Congress authorized $92 million for the park, but the money was never appropriated. And on a tour of Gateway this month, it seemed that not enough has been done since to bring it up to the level of other national parks.

"For many regional residents who might not be able to afford to go to Yellowstone, but also for so many new citizens of our nation, Gateway may be their first national park experience," said Alexander Brash, an ecologist and the conservation association's Northeast regional director.

In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg signed a law requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to create a watershed protection plan for the bay; the plan is due in October.

The DEP has built two giant tanks to hold storm overflow; two more tanks are under construction. As for the 260 million gallons of treated sewage, "approximately 99% of all bacteria is removed before this wastewater is returned to the bay," said DEP Deputy Commissioner Anne Canty. "Only a very small fraction of that - less than 1 million gallons a day" is untreated overflow.

But the association says the tanks' capacity should be increased so there is no overflow, wastewater should be cleaned better to decrease harmful nitrogen, and rainwater should be diverted into the ground instead of the bay.

Other groups point to potential health consequences from the toxins that end up in the bay.

Dennis Suszkowski, science director of the Hudson River Foundation, which is wrapping up a nine-year study of New York Harbor, said while animal life isn't being destroyed, "the bigger concern is those contaminants can get into fish and crabs, and people will eat them" and get sick.

The association's study gave Gateway's "natural resources" - factors such as cleanliness of water and air - a 53 out of a possible 100, the lowest rating of 27 other national parks that the National Parks Conservation Association has measured. One effect of that is loss of salt marshes has accelerated to 44 acres a year from about 10 acres a year before the mid-1970s.

Scientists say the marshes - which act as filters, absorbing toxins, and provide food, protection and a breeding ground for wildlife - may disappear completely within 20 years.

To draw attention to conditions at Gateway, the association helped organize a competition to redesign the park.

Five winners were announced on June 4. The association hopes the National Park Service will incorporate their ideas into its management plan for Gateway.

Kayaker beta tests his iPhone, all smiles...

Jun 25, 2007

Hudson River Greenland Fest

The Hudson River Greenland Fest was a success, with a pretty big turnout and great weather.

The location is great, with a nice sheltered bay for rolling classes, cabins, a tent area and big pavilion for acivites and a great sleeping area as well.

The first day was rolling and forward strokes class.

It turned into a good day for forward strokes lessons with strong wind and whitecaps. Many real world experiences for people not used to conditions, many capsizes, most recovering with a roll. Some wet exit and recue practice.

At night we had a BBQ party, silent auction and boat building talks.

The second day was rolling competition, rolling class and kayak relay race. Non-stop fun.

Brooklyn was in the house, enough to make a team for the relay race. Brooklyn came in 3rd.

Next year we'll do better and I suspect a bigger turnout form Brooklyn.

I'll post more later.


Andy Novick - Environmental Captain

Andy has been great ever since this little blog started. I learned to appreciate uniqueness of Jamaica Bay. It has been visceral experience about the city's polluting our backwater; smell, color and blackish objects in our water.

His posts on raising awareness of it are well appreciated. Thanks Andy.

Can we do more? I am willing to walk through town with a placard on me.... How about Coney Island on Sundays?

Thanks for all your posts.

Jun 23, 2007

Now isn't this the first thing you picture when somebody says "Brooklyn"?

It's the weekend of the annual Sebago Sailing Committee sailing clinic & I'm really enjoying it!

Interesting conditions for teaching a bunch of utter newbies though. Shifty winds - this was taken 30 seconds later. Please note that the 2 sails are pointing in completely different directions!

No Lasers today, needless to say. None of us students were anywhere close to having a shot at handling one of those racing boats with the wind shifts & gusts today! Four Sunfish and a Phantom.

I thought I was just getting a sailing class today, but the Sebago Sailing Committee is a multifaceted bunch...we also got hiking lessons:

and swimming lessons:

But there was plenty of sailing, too. Fun stuff!

Cool milestone du jour...first time EVER sailing a boat without a more experienced sailor on board that boat. Very odd, I'm quite comfortable when I know that somebody else is going to be able to take charge if things go awry...well, there weren't too many ways things could have gone too far awry but still, it was quite bizarre being the only person in the boat! It wasn't too far, and it sure as heck wasn't perfect (there was time in irons and oh possibly a bit of a bump with another boat while rounding a buoy) but I'm looking forward to more practice time tomorrow.

And in closing - did you ever know lettuce could be so pretty? It was a good week for the garden, lots of rain and lots of sun. The lettuce is going crazy! I'll have to have another homegrown salad with dinner tomorrow.

(cross-posted at Frogma blog)
From natural treasure to cesspool - Grim forecast for the future of Jamaica Bay
By Gary Buiso

Within just a decade, Jamaica Bay could dramatically shift from an important natural habitat into a cesspool, preservationists charged with protecting the water body recently warned.

And the city will be largely responsible for which direction the bay’s health turns.

“Jamaica Bay could be transformed from an incredibly significant salt marsh landscape with hundreds of species of birds, and serving as a nursery for fish—into basically all open water, turning a putrid pea green in the summer,” said Brad Sewell, the co-chair of the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan Advisory Committee.

“It really will be that kind of time scale,” Sewell said. “We’re not talking about a century. This is only a matter of years.”

During the last decade, the state Department of Environmental Conservation calculated that marshes are lost at a rate of 44 acres per year. “Every indication is that that rate has increased,” Sewell said.

The committee recently submitted its final recommendations for the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)’s Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan.

The committee’s major recommendations target the two biggest problem the bay faces: water pollution and habitat degradation.

The bay is the depository of the city’s treated wastewater—approximately 300 million gallons a day. That water has a high concentration of nitrogen, but the bay’s marshes can only remove some of it, resulting in poor water quality. Wastewater and overflow from sewage treatment plants contribute to harmful algae blooms that diminish the bay’s dissolved oxygen, a condition that can kill wildlife.

“We are targeting these huge discharges of nitrogen pollution [treated human waste] coming from our wastewater treatment plants” and emptying into the bay, Sewell said. “We’re asking for a significant reduction in that.”

“The advisory committee recognizes it’s a huge problem and the city should step up and do what the bay needs—and what its legally required to do,” he added.

The committee also recommends that the city, in the long term, look to reconstruct its infrastructure so that every time it rains, the over flow from the sewers don’t empty into the bay.

As far as the habitat, the city must stop auctioning off wetlands to “the highest bidder,” Sewell said. A habitat protection and restoration program must target the bay’s peripheral tidal wetlands and upland buffer areas—including their immediate protection from development, the committee urged.

At the current rate of loss, the marsh islands will completely vanish by 2024, according to the committee’s report. It is unclear why the marshes are in jeopardy, but some studies suggest the reduction of sediment washing up on the marshes and excessive sulfides in sediments due to water pollution could play a role, the committee has reported.

In all, there are five priority recommendations. The other three include improving stormwater management; an expansion of efforts to restore the bay’s interior salt marshes; and a comprehensive science program for the bay.

The DEP submitted a draft of the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan in March. Critics of the plan said it did not contain a proposed set of actions, but rather a set of proposed actions still under consideration. Local Law 71, enacted in 2005, compelled the DEP to develop a watershed protection plan for the bay, and to establish the committee to advise the DEP and the City Council.

A final plan is due in October 2007.

Sewell said he remains guardedly optimistic the city will do right by Jamaica Bay. “It’s not too late for them to make the right decisions. To date, we’re not optimistic about the big decisions being made in the right way…but we remain hopeful.”

The bay, a unit of the National Park Service, borders Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County, and includes 26,645 acres consisting of open water, meadowland, marshes, dunes and forests.

More than 80 species of fish, as well as a host of endangered and threatened species. Each year, nearly 20 percent of North America’s bird species visit Jamaica Bay.

©Courier-Life Publications 2007

Jun 21, 2007

In honor of Summer Solstice, a photo of Carhenge, Americas answer to Stonehenge......

Jun 19, 2007

click on this map for enlargment.....

Article in Paddling Instructor Magazine

What's In Your Water?
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Washington, DC - Every year hundreds of billions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage are dumped into the rivers and lakes of America and people living nearby don't even know it. Thanks to the hard work of Congressman Timothy Bishop (D-NY) and Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) communities could get the information they need to begin protecting people from sewage pollution. Today both lawmakers joined to introduce the Raw Sewage Overflow Community Right-to-Know Act of 2007. If passed, it would be the first law that would require sewage treatment plants to tell Americans exactly what's in their water.

for the rest of the article, click here..

Jun 18, 2007

What is #1 on the list of America's most endangered historic places?

Number one on the list is Brooklyns Waterfront......

National Trust's 20th list of America's most endangered historic places

America's priceless heritage is at risk—from the storied waterfront of Brooklyn to the neon-clad mom-and-pop motels of Route 66—some of America's most irreplaceable landmarks are threatened.

"The sites on this year's list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places embody the diversity and complexity of America's story, and the variety of threats that endanger it," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The places on this year's list span the continent and encompass the breadth of the American experience. Each one is enormously important to our understanding of who we are as a nation and a people."

Jun 16, 2007

Pororoca - Endless waves in Amazon

I came across these videos. This phenomenon called pororoca happens during the equinox. See the wikipedia link above.

Jun 12, 2007


No. 105 – Dec 7, 2004
Working for a more Humane New York

The troubled waters of Jamaica Bay provide a laboratory for policy changes that can help naturalize our urban waterfront and make it more hospitable for the critters that live in this region or pass through it on their pilgrimages to a suitable climate for hunting or foraging. While no other NYC waterfront maintains so large a natural appearance, more than a century of urban encroachment has taken its toll. The waters are still in need of improvement after decades of remediation. The Bay, while attracting fish and bird life, can poison the animals because human uses have so degraded the water. Most of the issues we cover here, while about the Bay, are common to urban waterfronts worldwide.

The Fountain and Pennsylvania Avenue landfills are just two of the last generation of garbage dumps to be located at the wet edges of NYC. Most of the wetlands of southeast Brooklyn and Queens have been filled in and waste has long been an agent of choice in the process. The names of Dead Horse and Sheepshead Bays hark back to early use of the Bay for butchering. Starrett City, Gateway Estates, Brooklyn’s Marine Park, Kennedy Airport, and Floyd Bennett Field are all former Jamaica Bay wetlands. What makes the Fountain and Penn landfills different is the amount of inorganic waste in the mix, the chemical compounds in that garbage, and the creation of new hills because the city had run out of space to dump. The dumps were closed more than two decades ago.

The garbage hills are now being capped with plastic and soil and prepared by NYC Department of Environmental Protection for use as parkland. While some methane caused by rotting garbage will still be piped into the air, some is being mined for energy. The project will capture most of the chemicals that leach into the water and, with citizen advocacy, efforts will be made to do better as time goes on, perhaps by creating new wetlands to filter the remaining noxious waste. With the help of NYC school children, Friends of Gateway (FoG) is growing thousands of native plants at the Gateway Greenhouse Education Center at Floyd Bennett Field for use at the landfills.
The Field is also serving as a way station for the landfill project. Clean sand is being harvested from a harbor dredging project and stored on a former runway until the landfill project is ready to receive it. For a few years the former airport will have temporary sand dunes. Hopefully, New Yorkers will be able to visit them and do some sand surfboarding or ski boarding on the loosely packed hills of clean harbor dredge.

Once all of the Jamaica Bay watershed sewage was just piped into the waters of the Bay. Now the adjacent land is dotted with four sewage treatment plants, which provide primary and additional treatments. While it is possible to clean sewage enough to recycle it as drinking water, the expense would be prohibitive. Thus we settle for a partial solution and try to make it better over time. One of the remaining sources of pollution in Jamaica Bay is “combined sewer overflow (CSO)”. After a rainfall, too much water flows into our sewers to be captured by the sewage treatment
plants. At a City Council hearing former Commissioner Ward said that his agency was holding back 71% of the CSO discharge until the plants can handle it. If too much is held back, unhealthful sewage would flow backward into streets, cellars, sinks and toilets all over the city. Thus after big storms it flows out into city waters, including Jamaica Bay without treatment. Now that construction of sewage treatment plants is completed, the DEP is focusing on abating CSO’s. A new sewage holding-tank will be installed at the head of Paerdegat Basin. After a rain thousands of gallons of sewage will be held until the sewage plants can process it. A similar tank has justbeen constructed east of Flushing Meadows Park. At ground level, high quality ball fields serve NYC residents.

As real estate was developed on the wetland edges of Jamaica Bay, an easy source of clean fill was the Bay itself. Just dig a hole nearby and pour bay sand onto the adjacent salt-water swamp until it was buildable dry land. In addition to making the former wetland property uninhabitable for wetland dependent wildlife, the holes in the bay, called borrow pits, became dead seas, according to a recent DEC study. Plans are being discussed to fill two of these pits in an effort to restore habitat that people have destroyed. Norton Basin and Little Bay Basin will have clean dredged materials from elsewhere barged in to fill the pits. The results will be studied to see if life returns to
a more natural underwater landscape. Environmentalists have long been suspicious of using dredged materials because of prior governmental efforts to save money by moving contaminated dredge from one part of the harbor to another. At a Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting skeptics were reassured by State DEC representative Steve Zahn, who noted that there would be plenty of dredging in the harbor to provide clean materials for any future restoration. If this project moves forward and successfully brings this place back to life, he noted, others can be taken on with the same meticulous research and in the knowledge that we will not run out of clean materials to use in the borrow pits.

The islands of Jamaica Bay are a loose mix of dry land, submerged grasslands, and places where water flows back and forth with each daily tide. When Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers presented physical proof of shrinkage of these islands, important studies were undertaken that indicated that global warming (and rising waters) was not the major factor in the loss of island habitat. The movement of sands around a functioning estuary is normal, the studies concluded. Human encroachment has made estuary expansion impossible, and thus the wetlands cannot maintain themselves.
The islands of Jamaica Bay are all that remain of one of the most productive living landscapes of NYC. The place where the city meets the sea is historically inhabited by the smaller life forms, animal and vegetable, that provides food for larger species. The presence of these life forms attracts fish and birds. Animals at the top of the food chain, including humans, are indirectly dependent on places like Jamaica Bay for their survival. If people can succeed in keeping Jamaica Bay alive, the shrinking estuaries of a planet where increasing human populations are living on the coasts might be saved so that fisheries can replenish and provide food.

New Yorkers are demanding public access to its coasts and Jamaica Bay is no exception. While construction of the Shore Parkway by Robert Moses created a somewhat accessible Brooklyn east coast with a beautiful greenway from Sheepshead Bay to Howard Beach (and beyond on an inland route), getting to that coast is still problematic. Our subways just don’t go that far. Private development blocks access to parts of some inlets. The historic Buffer the Bay plan called for a connected system of trails around Jamaica Bay and the New York City Greenways Plan and Rockaway Gateway Greenway Plan elaborated with a proposal to build greenway fingers into the
adjacent communities by connecting new inlet trails under the Parkway bridges to the main trail around the Bay. These new trails would allow inland residents to get to the bay by foot or bike on less trafficked streets than the few main routes that now cross or touch the highway. A project to reconstruct Parkway bridges over Jamaica Bay inlets (and pave parts of the green space along the highway) could provide funds for the development of the long sought “fingers into the communities”. As each bridge is rebuilt narrow roadways can be built under the bridge for greenway access. Without these entrance trails the Belt Parkway will continue to hinder waterfront access and keep people away from the magnificent resources of Jamaica Bay.

In our last issue we informed our readers that roadway widening was exempt from park alienation proceedings. That is incorrect. The reason so many highway widenings go ahead without such proceedings is that highway land titles often extend into the green space adjacent to the roads. If roadways were to be extended into land that Parks holds title to, alienation rules would have to be followed before the parkland is forfeited.

The Gateway Greenway will connect the Jamaica Bay National Park unit with units in Staten Island and New Jersey. A study of the important Bay Parkway to Sheepshead Bay link is underway at the Department of City Planning (DCP). The bi-state trail would cross to Staten Island over the Verrazano Bridge. The V-bridge would also be a link in the Maine to Florida East Coast Greenway. This year marks the 40 th anniversary of the Bridge and much of the media coverage has noted the lack of pedestrian access to the facility. State Senator Golden, Congresswoman Velazquez, and Mayor Bloomberg support the construction of a V-bridge footpath. Unfortunately, MTA Bridges, a State agency, has been resistant to the idea. A DCP study estimates that it would cost about $25 million to build such a trail. Even with inflation, on a cost per user basis, it would be one of the less expensive links in the NYC greenway system. Neighborhood Open Space Coalition is holding a meeting in our offices to attempt to see that the 50 th anniversary is celebrated with a walk enjoying harbor views on a retrofitted walkway/bikeway. Join us December 15
th 2004 @ 5pm. Arrive early for coffee and snacks. We will start on time
with a 15-minute slide presentation about the NYC greenway system. Link: rsvp@treebranch.com, so that we know who is coming. KAPLAN FUNDS A STREETEND PARK FOR JAMAICA BAY Near the entrance to Gateway National Recreation Area’s Floyd Bennett Field, at the end of Aviation Road, is a beachfront with superb views of the Marine Parkway Bridge. This sandy beach attracts fishers on a daily basis. The National Park Service, recognizing its special location, has built a stairway to the beach to support use of the space. When Floyd Bennett Field served as a military airbase the area upland from this beach was a trailer park for military personnel. The remains of that infrastructure include the road, paved parking, paved pads for the trailer housing, and an assortment of garden plants that have continued to grow after the caregivers have left. Friends of Gateway has received a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund to improve this upland space to accommodate additional people and uses. Our plans include landscaping of the area with shade trees and shrubbery, and adding berry plantings for kids to pick. Infrastructure improvements will include shade shelters, bike racks, and using some of the former trailer pads for picnic tables and barbeque pits. We will install water fountains and attempt to make the space more family friendly with painted game courts for hopscotch, skelly, and small court ball games.
Starting in spring FoG will program the space with volunteer tree planting events and continue with beach cleanups, floatables programs, fishing instruction, kite flying days, and a series of events that will allow New Yorkers to build parts of this Fishers Park with their own hands. A NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Grant will provide some of our plant materials. NYC Soil and Water Conservation District will be helping to create environmental education events. Schools, scout groups and adult volunteers will be mobilized. The National Park Service will help with some of the major infrastructure changes and oversight. At the end of eighteen months, improvements will be in place that will make Fishers Park into a family and fishing

Gateway National Recreation Area is beginning a full-scale renovation and enlargement of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge visitor station. Constructed in 1972 to serve a few thousand visitors annually, the station now hosts approximately 130,000 visitors per year. Renovations will bring it up to accessibility and safety standards and provide improved educational opportunities. Renovations include new rest room facilities, a large multi-use presentation room, and a sustainable, “green” design using environmentally friendly materials. A temporary visitor station
has been built on the north end of the refuge and trails will remain open to the public through the construction period.

Sunday, December 19 th
The Christmas Lights of Dyker Heights. After visiting a corner of Bay Ridge
we head to the mansions of “Dyker Heights” where residents decorate their urban estates more lavishly than contemporary department stores. The walk begins at the 95
th Street station of the R line at 3pm, just in time to allow evening skies to allow the light show to shine. URBAN OUTDOORS is the monthly newsletter of Neighborhood Open Space Coalition and Friends of Gateway. It reports on citywide public space issues and the work of hundreds of local civic groups that take an interest in the spaces. To be removed from the list reply with “remove” in the subject header. To add
someone to URBAN OUTDOORS list: visit the subscription area of http://www.treebranch.net/.

Neighborhood Open Space Coalition/ Friends of Gateway
232 East 11th
Street. New York, NY 10003 212-228-3126

copyright Neightborhood Open Space Coalition

Paerdegat Basin Project Slowly Moving Along

Paerdegat Basin Project Slowly Moving Along
By Dara Mormile

If you’re wondering what those construction trucks and cranes are doing on the Ralph Avenue side of Paerdegat Basin, it’s the giant Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project, which was originally supposed to be finished last year. Now they’re saying it will be more like five or six years from now.

The massive Paerdegat Basin Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project, originally scheduled to be completed last year, is taking longer than expected. Much longer.

According to officials at New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the completion date is now 2011. Reasons for the delay,, they said, include budgeting, new technology and reassessment of the construction site.

According to Community Board 18’s District Needs and Priorities Fiscal Year 2006 report, which was issued last month, the DEP originally expected the project, which started in 1999, to be finished in 2003. The date was then pushed to 2009 and currently is 2011.

Commenting on the delays, State Senator Carl Kruger, who was chairman of Community Board 18 (CB 18) in 1997 when hearings were held regarding the project, said, "What was once a four-year project has become a twelve-year project."

Conservationists will be pleased to know that the ecology was taken into account, as CSO engineers have planted marsh grass all along the banks of Paerdegat Basin. Photos by Charles Rogers

DEP press secretary Ian Michaels told the Canarsie Courier that new goals have been set for the $270 million project.

"As part of the city’s plan to clean up bodies of water throughout New York Harbor, the CSO will improve water quality in the Basin, comply with NYSDEC water quality standards and maximize the use of existing facilities," Michaels said.

A 2003 DEP press release stated that a new pumping station will reduce chemicals and sediments in the water, improving its quality for recreational boating and fishing, as well as make the Basin environmentally improved.

The first phase of the project consists of reconstructing the pumping station and is now complete, according to DEP spokesperson Natalie Milner. Its total cost is $10 million.

Senator Kruger said, "If I were the DEP, I would be ashamed. This community has been terrorized by everything bad that the DEP can do and the only thing that we’ve been able to see come out of it is a deeper hole that’s gone on for years. Every time we attend a meeting for a presentation, all we find ourselves being told is that it’s going to be another year."

Kruger wants the DEP to deliver a project that will be done on time. "When you’re done telling the community all the wonderful things you’re going to do for us, you should look at it in perspective and see what you haven’t done for us."

The project also includes Bergen Avenue construction, wetland reconstruction, area improvement and a natural area park that will extend from Avenue V through Bergen Beach. Other elements include sewer regulators, which will insure maximum capture of precipitation, dredging the mouth of the Basin and adjacent areas and construction of a 20 million gallon underground retention tank.

Overseeing the project is environmental engineer Ana Walsh of the construction company Hazen & Sawyer. She explained to residents, during a meeting in June, how odor problems would be eliminated, a point about which they had reservations. The existing water has chemicals, like coliform, and dissolved oxygen levels that do not comply with state environmental standards.

Even though water conditions downstream towards Jamaica Bay are better, pollution in the mouth of the Basin stems from storm water and other runoff. Ecologists have addressed beach problems along the shore of the Basin by planting marsh grass areas to strain and thus eliminate pollutants.

CB 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano was given a report from the DEP last year about the five-phase project, which spans from Ralph Avenue to Paerdegat Basin and into Jamaica Bay. She said she is disappointed in the proposed turnaround time for the facility.

"This project will bring clean water and recreational qualities which people will be able to use. When it’s finally done, part of the arrangement is to get an office for Community Board 18. I planned on moving in there before I retire but I don’t think it’s going to happen in my lifetime."

Sewage Spill Exposed a Lingering City Problem

Sewage Spill Exposed a Lingering City Problem
ANDREA ELLIOTT / NY Times 28aug03

Minutes after New York City lost its power on Aug. 14, streams of raw sewage began to flow into surrounding waterways. By the time electricity was restored, 490 million gallons had spilled — 145 million gallons from the city's largest pumping station, on the Lower East Side — causing beaches to close and posing health and environmental hazards.

This was not the first time. The blackout of 1977 caused a sewage overflow of 828 million gallons, which spilled from eight treatment plants and the same sprawling station on the Lower East Side, the 13th Street Pump Station on Avenue D between East 12th and 13th Streets.

Back then, city officials found a solution: they provided all treatment plants with backup generators, which functioned properly, for the most part, during the blackout earlier this month. But no generator was ever built at the 13th Street Pump Station, a failure caused by a mixture of administrative lethargy and delays brought on by stiff community resistance.

So when the lights went out again, the sewage spilled out again.

"We always knew if there was a blackout, 13th Street would just shut its gates and pump everything out," said Alfonso R. Lopez, deputy commissioner for the Bureau of Waste Water Treatment. "Everybody recognizes we need generators. No one wants to give up real estate."

To be sure, this was not the only sewage problem on Aug. 14. More than 260 million gallons of raw sewage was spilled because of faulty or inoperable generators at 2 of the city's 14 waste water treatment plants — Red Hook and North River. And even if those generators had been running properly and the 13th Street station had had backup power, sewage would still have spilled because of the lag time before generators begin operating, Mr. Lopez said.

But, city officials concede, it is a virtual certainty that the 2003 spill did not have to be as bad as it was. The proper functioning of the generators at North River and Red Hook would have made a huge difference. But that was not even a possibility at the 13th Street Pump Station, where a solution to fixing the problem is not nearly as straightforward and — though under way — is years in the future.

"It is outrageous," said Sarah J. Meyland, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an environmental organization with offices around the state. "Across the board there often is a very casual feeling about allowing raw sewage back into the environment under sporadic circumstances, as if sewage is really not that bad.

"In the same way we want the electrical system never to fail we should have the same expectation that the sewer system never fail except for acts of nature," Ms. Meyland added. "Not a situation like this one where there clearly is an engineering solution available."

The 13th Street Pump Station is surrounded by a low-income housing development and is across the street from a Con Edison plant, a combination that has produced a construction quagmire. Community leaders complained that pollution from the Con Edison plant, which is expanding, has added to already high asthma rates in the area.

For that reason, they have long resisted plans to build a diesel-fueled generator at the pump station, said Susan Stetzer, chairwoman of the public safety and sanitation committee for Community Board 3. "You shouldn't be building it on the grounds of a housing development," Ms. Stetzer said. "Why don't they build it on the grounds of Gracie Mansion?"

The argument that a power failure could occur seemed to hold little weight as the years passed.

"Over time it was easier to face the risk of sewer discharge than the reality of building a big plant in the face of community opposition," said Christopher Ward, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. "The environmental problem that sewage creates is invisible to New Yorkers, whereas taking property and diesel emissions is not."

The city took little action toward building the generator until, in 1995, the state issued an order forcing the construction of two generators at the 13th Street Pump Station as part of a larger plan to upgrade a treatment plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. That plant receives 150 million gallons of sewage every day from the 13th Street station.

City officials attended meetings and gave presentations describing what the city felt it needed to do, but were met with anger and distrust from the people who lived nearby.

Still, the community board approved a plan in June to build the generators on the roof of the 13th Street Pump Station — at a cost to the city of $9.75 million — but the system will not be up and running for at least four years, Mr. Ward said.

City engineers can make positive comparisons when talking about the sewage that spilled this month. Before 1986, when one of the last of New York City's waste water treatment plants was completed, all of the sewage from the West Side of Manhattan spilled untreated into the Hudson.

City engineers also said that before September 1967, when the New Town Creek plant in Brooklyn was completed, more raw sewage spilled into the waterways every day than spilled during the blackout of 2003.

Still, the problems during the blackout underscored longstanding flaws with the way the city disposes of its sewage.

Propelled by gravity, waste water flows from sinks, toilets and showers to a maze of pipes below New York City's streets. These pipes also receive storm water runoff in most parts of the city. From there, the sewage is pumped to treatment plants.

New York is among 772 cities around the nation with combined sewer systems — those that mix storm water with other waste. About 20,000 cities use a newer, more efficient system, separating the two forms of waste so that storm water is not processed at treatment plants along with sewage.

When it rains heavily, pipes in a combined system can overflow and spill raw sewage. In New York City, that happens about half the time it rains, causing an estimated 40 billion gallons of untreated waste water (20 percent of which is raw sewage) to spill into surrounding waterways every year, city officials said.

"Blackouts are unfortunate but are relatively rare," said Reed Super, senior lawyer of Riverkeeper, an environmental organization based in Garrison, N.Y. "It really just points out a larger problem, which is that it happens on a regular basis. Raw sewage flows into our waterways every time it rains over a certain threshold."

Along with other cities, New York City is trying to curb the problem of combined sewage overflows by building underground reservoirs that work almost like bladders. When waste water begins to overflow, some of it will be channeled to these three underground tanks. It will be held there until water levels drop again, and then the waste water will be pumped to treatment plants.

The projects, in Flushing and Alley Creek, Queens, and in Paerdegat Basin, Brooklyn, will cost more than $680 million. Critics say these efforts are a Band-Aid solution to a larger problem, and even city officials wonder how the city will keep up with the cost of maintaining the sewage system, parts of which date to the 1850's. "The city faces billions of dollars of waste water upgrades," Mr. Ward said. "A huge environmental question facing the city is the efficacy of those investments instead of competing environmental interests."

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Jun 10, 2007

What does Pizza have to do with Kayaking?

How often did Sebago people stop on Ave. J and east 16th after a day of paddling, for a slice of the best pizza in NYC? Like a hand made kayak, a hand made pizza is a work of art, and we are about to lose it due to a string of bad luck and fortune that has come to Mr. DeMarco, pizza master...

On Monday,last week during another inspection, the pizzeria was cited for unsanitary conditions including flies, a mouse infestation and bare-hand contact with food, said Sara Markt, a health department spokeswoman. The operators also failed to meet some of the conditions they had agreed to in April, like proving that they had passed a food safety course.

Margaret DeMarco, Mr. DeMarco’s daughter, said that the family provided a certificate from a food safety course, but that the health department did not recognize it because it was a photocopy.


Jun 8, 2007

The Hudson River Greenland Festival 2007 is open for registration!
June 23rd and 24th, Croton Point Park, Croton onHudson, NY

Follow this link:


and read all about what we are going to offer this

Jun 7, 2007

The Very Special Garden of Professor M.

Ah, urban gardening, one of the joys of Sebago. All the little beds, each one a reflection of the builder's gardening tastes.

Some of us grow flowers. Some of us grow food.

But at least one of us...

is growing...


And here's one of our monk parakeets, working away already at seven a.m.

I'm still relatively new, but I've heard rumours that there are some politics that swirl around the logo (how nice, to have politics swirling around the logo, instead of around boat storage).

Specifically, I hear that there are pro-bear and anti-bear camps.

Well, here's another idea...what if we take off the ears, and add a beak?

(please don't throw things, I'm kidding!)

Jun 6, 2007

Paddle Skills Workshop at Lake Sebago, Harriman State Park, NY

"Yonkers Paddle and Rowing Club", "Sebago Canoe Club" and others will be getting together for a paddle rescue and skills session this Sunday 6/10/07, all day.

Those Sebago members that are interested, email the mailing list for car pooling info or to be picked up at the train/bus stop in Sloatsburg.

For some reason the link for the info is gone or hidden at the Sebago CC web site:-(

Here's some links from other paddle clubs:

The cabin at Lake Sebago is the best kept secret benefit of being a Sebago Canoe Club member and if you haven't been there, your really missing out.

Jun 5, 2007

Blessing of the Fleet 2005

Annual Blessing Of The Fleet Held At Canarsie Pier 2005

Photos by Anthony Wihlborg

More than 50 boats and other vessels, under sunny, almost cloudless skies, sailed past Canarsie Pier Sunday during the 51st Annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Hosted by the United Inter-Yacht Clubs, the procession of boats from the metropolitan area included vessels from the Midget Squadron, Riley’s, Brooklyn and Hudson River Yacht Clubs and the Howard Beach Motor Club.
After the ceremonial cannon boom, dozens of pleasure craft, plus Coast Guard Auxiliary, National Park Police, NYC Fire Department and NYPD ma-rine patrol boats, passed the pier in review at six knots as a wreath of flowers was tossed into the sea and a special commemorative prayer was in-toned in memory of all those who had lost their lives at sea.

Rev. Mike Tedone of the Shrine of St. Jude Church and Rabbi Rister of Temple Hillel of Flatlands gave the traditional blessings as the flotilla passed in review.

Pictured (clockwise from top): procession of boats on Jamaica Bay pass Canarsie Pier; yacht club commanders salute passing vessels; Rabbi Rister and Father Tedone; canoers paddle by; Fr. Tedone, City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., event organizer Ray Pagano, Vice Commander Tom Polito, Commander Richard Brew, John Coon-ery, Jr., and Rabbi Rister; two of the many boats that were blessed.

Text by Neil S. Friedman

Jun 3, 2007

Governers Island...New Fantasy Island?

What is wrong with this photo below?

The US government sold Governor's Island to New York City for a buck; one stipulation was that it not be used for residential uses, the crack cocaine of the development biz. For years they have been trying to figure out what to do with it, with everything from amusement parks to casinos and hotels. Finally they started over and are running a limited competition; five consortia were invited to submit designs for what are very green, innovative parks. The teams didn't just have to design them they had to develop a raison d'etre. Why have this park? “Everyone knows how to get to Prospect Park or Central Park,” says Leslie Koch, president of the Governors Island Preservation & Education Corporation. “What is the experience that this park and promenade can provide that is unique? This has to be compelling.”
Landscape architects West 8 (who won a comparable competition to redo Toronto's waterfront) with Quennell Rothschild & Partners, architects Rogers Marvel and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planners SMWM, did, I think, the funkiest; it has a " Vertical Landscape, mountains popping up out of the flat southern tip that would integrate active recreational, cultural, and educational functions. Inside could be snack bars, exhibits, a funicular, and caves for spelunking. Says West 8 partner Jerry van Eyck: “We wanted to give it the attitude of a national park, one with primal nature, robustness, where you don’t feel the hand of man.” And what TreeHugger could resist the promise that "Three thousand free wooden bikes would allow for rapid circumnavigation on looping, leafy paths.

Jun 1, 2007

Full Moon over Jamaica...

Jamaica Bay, that is.

Nice paddle although a bit on the short side - I was shooting for the Elder's Point Marsh, launched a little while before sunset. It was pretty breezy (the dinghy sailors were all coming in just as I was going out, they looked pretty happy!), and I didn't make it all the way to Elder's Point because I started seeing some distant flickers in the clouds. Forecast had mentioned thunderstorms & since it's bad form to get electrocuted and/or drowned during the work week, I elected to pack it in & head back for the dock. Nice paddle though - never been out in the bay at such high water, the beaches were pretty much gone, the shorebirds all sounded like they were having some serious discussions about the scraps that were left. I set my course by the wind direction, went out against some pretty good-sized (for Jamaica Bay) chop - maybe a foot, and then had a fabulously surf-y trip back. Romanys do get happy in a following sea! Good fun.

Would've been even more fun with company. June's new moon is on a Saturday. The 30th to be specific. Hmmmm.