The American Littoral Society and the Broad Channel middle school P.S. 47 are holding a fundraiser to help restore New York City’s milkweed habitat for the monarch butterfly. According to the Society, “Once numbering in the tens of millions, the monarch’s numbers have been severely reduced due to habitat loss in North America. Their life cycle depends on one family of plants – the milkweeds.” The milkweed will be planted in open fields and vacant lots throughout New York and New Jersey. The fundraiser, with a goal of $1,500, is to purchase the milkweed plants in time for the first planting at the end of April at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The American Littoral Society and P.S. 47 already met their funding goal, but the groups are still accepting donations. And for just today, the National Parks Conservation Association will match every individual donation up to $50 until 11:59 pm. If you are interested in donating, go here.
This week, the Parks Department will begin rebuilding the Rockaway boardwalk from Beach 86th to Beach 97th Streets — as everybody knows, Hurricane Sandy badly ripped up the boardwalk back in 2012. And over the summer, Parks hopes to take on another damaged stretch from Beach 97th Street to Beach 106th Street. According to the Daily News, “Crews will fence off the area and start demolishing some of the concrete piles as early as Monday, and the first section could be completed by Memorial Day 2015.” Work begins with pile driving, which will last two months, followed by the placement of the concrete boardwalk. Some concrete will show a wavy pattern; there’s another design with blue stones placed throughout. During construction all access points to the beach will remain open.
The city delayed this $20,000,000 project time and time again. Although the initial hope was to finish the entire reconstruction by 2016, it likely won’t happen until 2017.
Yesterday Mayor de Blasio pledged to overhaul the city’s Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, announcing a number of reforms to jumpstart the process. You can see the entire PDF report here or read more details from the Mayor’s office here. The reforms include ways to improve the experience of homeowners navigating the pre-construction process, expanding eligibility for acquisition and reimbursement, establishing better coordination among city, state, and federal partners, and working closely with local communities in the rebuilding efforts.
According to the Times, the Mayor hopes that the city will have started construction on 500 new homes and mailed out 500 reimbursement checks for previously performed repairs by the end of the summer. Only 30 residents received their payments so far. As Brad Gair — who worked on rebuilding efforts during Bloomberg’s term — told the Times, “Anything that helps expedite the assistance to the homeowners who are still in need, I think is very positive. The challenge really becomes how you implement and process that.”
The future remains unclear for the Madelaine Chocolate Company, a Rockaways business that sustained $50,000,000 in damage after Hurricane Sandy. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company seeks $10,000,000 in federal Sandy recovery funds from the city to replace and repair machinery. City officials do not think they can grant the full amount, as there’s only about $42,000,000 in federal dollars for the Sandy loan and grant program. As the WSJ says, “The chocolate company has tested the limits of the city’s Sandy recovery programs, which were designed to help much smaller businesses, and its plight has raised hard questions about how New York should distribute the rebuilding dollars.”
Madelaine’s declined emergency fund money from the city — a $25,000 emergency loan, $10,000 grant and an emergency sales-tax deferment — due to a long application process. The business has, however, secured a $12,900,000 low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as $3,000,000 from a flood insurance settlement. They also applied for a $1,000,000 loan from the city, despite seeking the full $10,000,000. Back in February, Madelaine’s put its 200,000-square-foot factory up for sale. The company is considering relocating outside New York, despite hopes to remain in the Rockaways. Madelaine’s has been in the neighborhood since 1967.
Far Rockaway is getting two new sweet spots, just in time for summer. Rockawayist reports that an Uncle Louie G outpost is under construction at 92-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 146th and Beach 147th Streets. It’ll start serving italian ices and ice cream on Saturday, April 26th. And Boardwalk Bagel, located at 108-01 108th Street, plans to expand in the storefront next door and open an ice cream parlor. That one is expected to open sometime this summer.
Beautify Earth, a nonprofit that began in California, is taking on the Rockaways. The group uses public art to uplift communities, and they’ll head to Rockaway Beach Boulevard to beautify over a dozen buildings with murals and street cleanups. They’ve also got a proposal for a community garden and sculpture park in the neighborhood. The list of artists signed on to the project include some world-renowned street artists as well as NYC-based artists. One mural is up, another is coming this month. A group of artists also plan to work with local kids to complete another piece of street art. The Rockaway Artists Alliance is helping engage local artists and leverage resources for this big project.
Beautify Earth also organized a fundraiser for this endeavor, which will take place on Saturday, April 12th from 8 pm to 12am at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. There will be a live jazz band, a DJ and a raffle throughout the night. Donations at the door will be accepted. Check out all the event details right here. And if you’d like to directly contribute to the project, you can go here.
NY1 got the check out proposals for Rebuild by Design, a competition responding to Hurricane Sandy by asking design professionals to envision solutions that increase resilience across the Sandy-affected region. Proposals span from Lower Manhattan to Hunt’s Point in the Bronx to Red Hook, Brooklyn. In Queens, designers proposed an elevated subway platform and commercial strip in Rockaway Park, rendered above.
The winners of the competition will be picked later this month. The winning design solutions may be able to be implemented with disaster recovery grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other sources of public and private- sector funding.
Fort Tilden today is reminiscent of a movie set for a post-apocalyptic film like “The Planet of the Apes” or “I Am Legend.” A walk along the dunes will take you to long abandoned missile installations and the crumbling remnants of concrete bunkers and mysterious outbuildings. The bunkers were designed to house the big guns that were put in place to protect New York City from Axis invaders during World War II. Today, beach grass clings to the entrances, and the sand that caused so many problems for the troops building and maintaining this outpost, has once again reclaimed its territory. Most of the buildings are gone, too, and the sound of playing children has replaced the barking of orders, or the grinding of gears as the Nike missiles of the Cold War were moved into position. Fort Tilden was no nature preserve then.
At the dawn of World War II, when it seemed certain that this war would be much worse, and much more widespread than the “Great War,” the United States Army took the ramshackle base that it had halfheartedly built during World War I, and brought it up to standards. They had to, as Fort Tilden was part of the first line of defense of the greatest and most important city in America. Fort Tilden, along with Fort HamiltonHancock in New Jersey, had to protect New York City.
The first chapter of this story told the early history of the fort. It was meant to protect NYC during World War I, but by the time the early defenses were established, the war was over. During the 1920s, efforts were made to bulk up the fort. New buildings were constructed, and two big guns were added to the weaponry. But the planning was poor and the working conditions even worse. It was hard to believe that this fort was not in the middle of the Sahara, or on some remote island in the Pacific, but only a few miles from the skyscrapers that could be seen on the horizon when standing on the dunes. (more…)
Forget the thermometer, the Queens calendar of events has declared that “Spring has Sprung!” The borough will host countless outdoor activities over the next month, starting with a few running, walking and peeping opportunities this weekend. The fun starts on Friday with the 5 Miles Marking 5 Decades Fun Run, a two-loop road race that starts and ends at the north end of Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Meadow Lake, at 4:30 pm. Organized by Queens Distance Runners, this event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair.
On Saturday, early risers can enjoy a bird walk through Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge led by American Littoral Society naturalist Don Riepe. Meanwhile at 1 pm, attendees can combine a stroll with a nature lesson at Bayside’s Fort Totten, where Urban Park Rangers will discuss scientific concepts and weather phenomena, such as lightning, thunder, clouds, the water cycle, hurricanes and extreme storms.
On Sunday, the official Queens historian, Jack Eichenbaum, will guide a historic stroll through Flushing. He will take his troops to the 1964 Quaker Meeting House, the 1661 Bowne House and the (1774-1785) Kingsland Manor, where the Queens Historical Society is exhibiting Practicing Equality, Quakers in Queens. If that’s not enough, hardcore types can walk the winter-ravaged Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways and learn beach dynamics with American Littoral Society naturalist Mickey Maxwell Cohen. There will be plenty of flotsam and jetsam and the chance to learn about the area’s surprising wartime history.
Details (one): 5 Miles Marking 5 Decades Fun Run, Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Meadow Lake, March 28th, 4:30 pm, $25/$15 for members of Queens Distance Runners and the Queens Tourism Council/$8 for junior high and high school students.
Details (two): Early Spring Bird Walk, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, March 29th, 10 am. Free, but RSVP to NEChapter@littoralsociety.org or 718-474-0896.
Details (three): Exploring Clouds, Fort Totten, Bayside, March 29th, 1 pm, free.
Details (four); Quaker Flushing, meet at northwest corner of Main Street and 37th Avenue, March 30th, noon, $15/$20 with part of the proceeds going to the Queens Historical Society. RSVP required to Jack Eichenbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details (five): Spring Tide Walks, meet at parking lot near Jacob Riis Park’s Entry Pavilion, March 30th, 10: 30 am, free but RSVP to email@example.com or 718-474-0896.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of missiles rising out of their silos on the shores of Queens scares the heck out of me. The fact that anyone thought this was a good idea, and necessary to the national defense worries me as well, but we have long lived in a scary world. The silos and the missiles existed, although they weren’t the same as the huge ICBM rockets coming out of Midwest cornfields. During the very scary years of World War II, followed by the Cold War, Fort Tilden, along with Sandy Hook’s Fort Hancock and Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth, became the City’s line of defense, protecting us until 1974, when the missiles and the military were gone, and the nature claimed the beaches once more as its own.
Fort Tilden is part of the Rockaway Peninsula, and is now a part of larger Gateway National Recreation Area. It faces out towards the sea, with Jacob Riis Park to the east and Breezy Point to the west. Military strategists have long figured that this was a fine place for a defensive fort, and the first fortifications, in the form of a blockhouse with cannon on top, were built here in time for the War of 1812. They were not permanent fortifications, and the area remained sea marshland, dunes and beach for most of the 19th century. In fact, the sandy beaches and sharp blowing sand were part of the reason the area was not given a more permanent fortress.
But that changed when the United States prepared to enter the battlefields of World War I, in 1917. There already was a Coast Guard station here, and the Army surveyed around the peninsula for the idea spot for a coastal fort. This area was chosen, even though the sandy ground would prove to be a problem. The land had to be firm enough to support heavy gunfire, but the sandy dunes were far too mobile. Concrete bedrock would have to be constructed underneath the heavy gun turrets and fortifications. Fort Tilden, named for Samuel J. Tilden, a former military man and past governor of New York, was officially established in 1917. (more…)