Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) recently sent a letter to the Port Authority regarding a proposal to expand the runway at J.F.K. International Airport into Jamaica Bay. The plan was first introduced by the Port Authority executives in February 2011, and includes filling in a significant part of Jamaica Bay. Public opinion has been consistently against destruction of the waterway, but the idea remains on the table.
“This plan has the potential to affect local neighborhoods and a wildlife refuge,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “Air traffic has greatly increased in recent years and I understand the need for expansion, but this proposal has too many negative implications. I urge the Port Authority to explore a number of different, potential solutions that could accomplish the same goal with less impact on our local families and environment.”
From both an environmental and an economic standpoint, runway expansion into Jamaica Bay runs its risks. The area serves as one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeast and is home to over 60 species of butterflies, in addition to an impressive array of reptiles and fishi . Many local businesses rely on the bay and residents who enjoy the park would see the space reduced, Assemblyman Goldfeder noted.
“The public has really made their opinion quite clear on the issue; they do not want any part of Jamaica Bay destroyed,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “Rockaway and Broad Channel families are concerned about the potential impact the plan would have on the community and the local economy.”
The 400-acre parcel of wetlands and shoreline in question was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area in 1972 by the National Parks System. Congressional approval would be necessary to fill it in as federal law specifically prohibits any airport expansion in the protected zone. An environmental study of the area stated that any further man-made incursion would “diminish a national environment asset for future generations,” Assemblyman Goldfeder stated.
“I asked Port Authority executives to reject the Regional Plan Association’s Proposal and explore other viable options,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “Jamaica Bay is an incredible natural resource that deserves our protection.”