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Products > Publications Printer Friendly Version
Plan for Queens Waterfront cover Plan for the Queens Waterfront, 1993. ($5.00)
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The Plan for the Queens Waterfront, a part of New York City's Comprehensive Waterfront Plan issued in August 1992, presents detailed studies of the borough's five reaches, or waterfront study areas.

With nearly 30 percent of the city's shoreline, Queens has a remarkable array of waterfront resources and uses. Its shores encompass precious natural habitats, well-used parks, active industries, two airports and parcels appropriate for redevelopment. The natural beauty that first attracted visitors to the North Shore and the Rockaways remains a valuable asset today. The pounding surf off Rockaway beaches, quiet coves along Long Island Sound, and the drama of the Queensboro Bridge and the Manhattan skyline are among the scenic highlights of the Queens waterfront.

Queens is the only borough whose waterfront is discontinuous -- its north and south shores are separated by the width of the borough. The two shorelines differ in geology, historic development patterns, and current land uses.

The north shore along the East River and Long Island Sound contains hills created by glacial deposits, and a series of peninsulas separated by bays and coves: Hallets Cove, Pot Cove, Bowery Bay, Flushing Bay, Powell's Cove, Little Bay, Little Neck Bay and Udall's Cove. The section between Newtown Creek and Flushing Bay developed as partof New York's working harbor, where industrial firms used the water to receive and ship goods. A series of large utilities and public facilities -- a Con Edison plant, a Water Pollution Control Plant, LaGuardia Airport and Rikers Island -- were established between 1860 and 1940. From the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge to the Nassau County border, the Queens shoreline resembles other sections of Long Island's north shore, with lower-density residential areas set amid tidal wetland habitats.

The south shore -- Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula -- is a barrier island/bay complex. Beach sands and dunes characterize miles of oceanfront along the barrier island. The fine-grained sediments and marsh deposits of the bay behind the barrier offer prime fish and wildlife habitat. Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways, relatively distant from the rest of New York Harbor, did not become urbanized until fairly recently.

Two sections of the Queens waterfront -- Jamaica Bay and the eastern North Shore --contain especially significant natural resources. The Comprehensive Waterfront Plan designates Jamaica Bay and the Upper East River/Long Island Sound as Special Natural Waterfront Areas where preservation of natural coastal resources is the paramount goal. Jamaica Bay is a natural area of international significance, and the Upper East River/Long Island Sound Special Natural Area is an integral part of the larger Long Island Sound ecosystem, which has been designated an Estuary of National Concern. The two special natural areas encompass five state-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats: Udall's Cove, Little Neck Bay, Alley Pond Park, Jamaica Bay and Breezy Point. The reach studies that follow recommend a variety of measures including land acquisition and parkland mapping, revision to Waterfront Revitalization Program policies, and management and planning guidelines for city-owned property in sensitive areas.

Queens has a number of waterfront parks with magnificent views, bathing beaches and natural environments. The borough's publicly accessible waterfront consists of miles of Rockaway beachfront, and smaller parks along Jamaica Bay, the East River and Long Island Sound. The West Queens waterfront has more than 100 acres of parkland and other public spaces. The plan calls for a nearly continuous esplanade along the East River through Astoria, Ravenswood and Hunters Point. As part of a citywide greenway system, the esplanade would serve nearby medium-density communities as well as residents of planned waterfront developments. Other waterfront recreational uses are recommended throughout the borough, some in areas where public access must be compatible with natural resources or industrial activity.

New York's two airports, JFK International and LaGuardia, are the most vital working waterfront uses along the Queens shoreline. The airports are the city's connection to the world economy, and they are essential to the city's economic future. The plan supports measures to accommodate expansion and improve access at both airports. Aside from the airports, the greatest concentrations of industrial uses on the Queens waterfront are along Newtown Creek where rail, highway and waterborne access offer potential for intermodal goods movements. The Newtown Creek reach is identified as one of six Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas, where manufacturing zoning is to be maintained, and infrastructure investment and city land disposition and development policies will be designed to strengthen industry.

Elsewhere on the West Queens waterfront, much of the industrial base has declined, leaving large tracts of dormant land. Although pockets of active industrial and municipal uses are expected to remain, the area's easy access to commercial centers in Queens and Manhattan has created a major redevelopment opportunity. Approved redevelopment projects in Hunters Point have capacity for over 7,000 housing units, and other sites suitable for redevelopment are identified in northern Hunters Point, Ravenswood and along Pot Cove. Farther east, the 40-acre Downtown Flushing riverfront is recommended for redevelopment, as well as smaller sites in College Point and Beechhurst. On the borough's south shore, an approved Urban Renewal Plan for the 300-acre Arverne site in Rockaway calls for development of 7,500 residential units, open spaces, schools and commercial activity.

The Plan for the Queens Waterfront presents a broad vision, supported by site-specific recommendations, to preserve and enhance the waterfront as a vibrant, exciting place integral to the borough's social and economic life.

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