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Friends of Gateway
Jamaica Bay Task Force
The idea for a Jamaica Bay Task Force (JBTF) grew out of the concern of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the 208 program passed in 1972. The federal government had just mandated CAC's to provide opportunities for community stakeholders to participate with agency decision makers on actions to improve their neighborhoods.
Jamaica Bay was a priority waterbody being considered for status as a Special Management Area under the coastal program. The first meeting of a special sub-committee of the CAC took place on December 14, 1978. Subsequent meetings detailed the following aims:
The first meeting took place on July 25, 1984 chaired by the Port Authority; it met thereafter at least once and sometimes twice a year with a rotating chair among the Commissioners of Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), DEP, DCP, Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) and National Parks Service (NPS). One of the most active partners was Doris Moss who worked for Congressman Addabo. Together with then Parks Supt. Bob McIntosh, they stimulated interest in a scientific meeting to review progress on understanding the problems and proposed solutions for restoring water quality. The Task Force had been specifically invited to compile the problems to be addressed in a Jamaica Bay Plan in a community-sponsored meeting on February 15, 1984 addressed by Ms. Moss and Supt McIntosh to solicit public input.
The focus of the Conference was the Celebration of Jamaica Bay; the theme, Rene DuBos' dictum - "Think globally, act locally". The approach centered on public education and an information exchange among government, scientists, and the lay public. A great deal of groundwork has been accomplished by the various agencies. DCP compiled the issues map; Audubon and Trust for Public Land had produced the Buffer the Bay report (which has been largely implemented); DEP has upgraded its plants and tested both a CSO permanent holding tank and a Donkers installation; DEC designated the Bay a Critical Environmental Area; DCP has issued its approved CZM (what is this??) Plan; the Port Authority has issued several environmental studies as part of the airport expansion plans and Deprtment of Transportation) DOT is upgrading the bridge. What remains is a coordinated public policy on landuse and water quality that would guide development.
When the Task Force began to meet less often, the New York City Soil &Water Conservation District and the Friends of Gateway reconvened it as a forum for citizens to learn about and comment upon the numerous agency plans for Jamaica Bay. Since 1999 it has met several times a year and hopes to become quarterly. Regular agency attendees include the US Army Corps of Engineers, the NYC DEPs, the NYS DEC and the NPS Gateway National Recreation Area - all of whom have plans for the Bay.
The JBTF is envisioned as a vehicle for public participation in the local
planning process. It is not a decision-making body but it does expect
to impact on public decisions. It is inclusive; any group or individual
with an interest in the Bay and its surrounding communities can participate.
Interested parties can also stay abreast of Jamaica Bay issues by subscribing
to the Jamaica Bay listserve administered by the Friends of Gateway (FoG)
/Neighborhood Open Space Coalition (NOSC).
Treebranch Network is a project of
Neighborhood Open Space Coalition
232 East 11th Street, NYC 10003