Parks opens boat launch on Water Trail

A small fleet of canoes and kayaks took to the Idlewild Salt Marsh in Rosedale recently as Parks officials officially opened a new boat launch. Starting Saturday, September 22, paddlers could set sail from the launch into the salt march waters, which are the headwaters of the Jamaica Bay, and explore local freshwater and tidal wetlands and Hook Creek.
“Who remembers when this was a park of abandoned parts?” asked city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “We are never going back to the old days.”
The preserve is part of the New York City Water Trail, a network of waterways connecting city parks and currently being mapped out by the Parks Department and the launch was funded primarily by a $65,000 grant from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In addition, the J.M. Kaplan Fund - a grant-issuing group started by Jacob Merrill Kaplan after he sold off the Welch’s Grape Company - contributed $15,000 after receiving a request for the funds from the Eastern Queens Alliance (EQA), a community group comprised of seven local civic organizations. The funds paid for the launch as well as new plantings and grass.
EQA Chair Barbara Brown said that some community members have been pushing for the park to be cleaned for years.
“When I mentioned the dream of restoring Idlewild Park, people looked at me like I had two heads,” Brown told the crowd of parks officials, politicians and local residents. She said that on one of her first canoeing adventures from the Rosedale Park, she literally had to climb over fences before reaching the water, and on another occasion, a machete would have been handy to cut through the brush blocking the waterfront.
“We want to thank all of those catchers of the dream,” she said, singling out Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski for her work to start the launch.
Parks is currently working on a guidebook due out in March 2008 for kayakers to navigate the city’s 600 miles of waterfront. To do this, Lewandowski and volunteers have been testing the local waterways, comprising the NYC Water Trail, since March.

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