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PR- 384-11
October 27, 2011


Advances PlaNYC and Waterfront Vision & Enhancement Strategy Goals

Grants From the Rockefeller Foundation and National Grid will Support the Planning Process

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck today announced new agreements to improve the Federal and City parklands around Jamaica Bay and improve overall water quality in the Bay. The Mayor and Secretary Salazar signed an agreement committing to a joint planning process that will devise a new, unified governing model and new, common objectives for the 10,000 acres of publicly-owned land in south Brooklyn and Queens. The Rockefeller Foundation and National Grid have generously agreed to support the design of a conceptual master plan for the Jamaica Bay Parks. As part of this effort, at the request of the City and the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection will designate the majority of Jamaica Bay a “No Discharge Zone,” which bans boats from discharged sewage into the bay, improving water quality. 

“The agreements with our Federal, State and philanthropic partners will have with far-reaching benefits for what may be the greatest natural treasure lying within the borders of any city in the nation – Jamaica Bay,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The partnership with Secretary Ken Salazar and the Department of Interior will allow us to be bolder, more innovative, and more cooperative, by managing these extraordinary public lands around the bay as one great urban park. And with the new ‘No Discharge Zone’ enforced by the EPA, we are going to improve water quality throughout the bay.  It’s all in keeping with PlaNYC and our ongoing transformation of New York City’s waterfront as a place for New Yorkers can live, work, and play.”

“One of the primary goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative is to work with local communities to reconnect people with nature and outdoor recreation,” said Secretary Salazar. “By coordinating more closely with the City of New York, we will create a seamless network of urban parks that are easily accessible to people who live in nearby communities.”

The Mayor and Secretary announced that joint projects would begin with the development of a jointly-managed vision and governance structure to establish where Federal and City lands and programs could better connect and be more efficiently managed. The Rockefeller Foundation and National Grid have agreed to fund part of the development of the Jamaica Bay Parks master plan particularly related to research projects on resilience to climate change in coastal environments and improving park access for the surrounding communities. 

The Mayor and Secretary Salazar also were joined at the announcement at the Salt Marsh Nature Center by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability Director David Bragdon, National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner Maria Burks, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck. The philanthropic and advocacy community was represented by Marian Heiskell, founder and board chair, and Marie Salerno, President and CEO, from the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, the official cooperating partner of the National Parks Service under Federal law.

“It's so encouraging that the National Park Service, City of New York and Harbor Conservancy are endeavoring on this new partnership as it has been my passion for nearly 40 years for Gateway to provide a national park experience for those who can’t afford a trip to our other, more distant national parks,” said National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy Chair and Co-Founder Marian S. Heiskell. “I believe that Gateway can be the envy of America's great national urban park system, and now both the Mayor and Secretary Salazar stand ready to help us achieve its greatness.”

“As coastal cities throughout the world continue to grow and are increasingly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, the restoration of Jamaica Bay provides an incredible opportunity to build our understanding of resilience in urban coastal areas,” said Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation.  “Jamaica Bay is a beautiful, but often overlooked pocket of our City’s landscape, and The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled to help give back to the community parkland that will serve as both a recreational and educational space. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Secretary Salazar for all their efforts to make today possible.”

“Today we’ve taken an important step towards making Jamaica Bay safe for local residents, who will no longer have to worry about harmful sewage pumped out by boats in the area,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “I applaud the Department of the Interior, the EPA, and New York City for agreeing to establish this no-discharge zone that will mean cleaner and clearer waters for Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island residents.”

“The parks in and around Jamaica Bay are natural and recreational treasures, all the more so because of their location right in the heart of the Nation’s largest metropolitan area” said Robert D. Yaro, President of Regional Plan Association. “We congratulate Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for establishing the framework that was needed to make this area a premier regional destination.”

At the same time, the US EPA announced that it was issuing a no discharge regulation for Jamaica Bay

“If you don’t have clean air, land and water, you can’t enjoy the great outdoors and banning boat sewage from Jamaica Bay stops one source of pollution that is both harmful and completely unnecessary,” said EPA Regional Administrator Enck. “This action will improve water quality in this magnificent bay that is right in the backyards of millions of New Yorkers.”

Park Agreement

The agreement establishes a formal a partnership between the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for the agencies to collaborate in four areas: effective management of park lands; science and restoration of Jamaica Bay; access and transportation to park lands around Jamaica Bay; and engagement of New York City youth with hands-on science programs and fun public service projects to promote recreation, stewardship and “green” careers.

The four key components to the park management agreement are:

  • Effective management through collaboration:  The National Park Service and New York City Parks manage contiguous lands with overlapping missions. Through effective land use and program planning that ignores boundaries, they can create a seamless and interconnected network of natural, historical, and recreation spaces urban park that all New Yorkers can visit, with or without a car.
  • Science and restoration: Through better coordination of research, data gathering restoration efforts and pilot projects, government agencies, non-profit organizations and academic institutions can work closer together to restore and conserve the health of Jamaica Bay.
  • Access and transportation: The city and the Park Service will work to improve public access to Jamaica Bay and within Jamaica Bay through existing and new transportation choices, and through better public information about those options.
  • Youth and education: The city and the National Park Service can jointly develop a series of programs in which urban youth can learn the values of stewardship through service activities.

The agreement may also be expanded in the future to include federal and city park lands on Staten Island.

Jamaica Bay No Discharge Zone

The new Jamaica Bay No Discharge Zone agreement between the City, the EPA and State Department of Environmental Conservation bans all boats from discharging sewage into a designated 20,000 acre area of Jamaica Bay. The area has adequate facilities for boats to pump out their sewage and boaters must now dispose of their sewage at these specially-designated pump-out stations. The new Jamaica Bay No Discharge Zone is part of a joint EPA, Department of Environmental Conservation and City effort to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into the State’s waterways. Discharges of sewage from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a health risk and impair marine life.

The Jamaica Bay No Discharge Zone encompasses 17,177 acres of open water and 2,695 acres of upland islands and salt marshes in Brooklyn and Queens.

The northeastern and southeastern parts of Jamaica Bay reach Nassau County, while the northern shore of the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens forms the southern boundary of the bay. The bay is connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Rockaway Inlet, and eight tributaries empty into Jamaica Bay: Sheepshead Bay, Paerdegat Basin, Fresh Creek, Hendrix Creek, Spring Creek, Shellbank Basin, Bergen Basin and Thurston Basin. The final affirmative determination from EPA of adequate pump-out facilities means that New York State may proceed to ban the discharge of boat sewage into Jamaica Bay and its tributaries.


Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958


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