Thanks to a new land deal, residents looking for the perfect picnic spot might not have to travel any further than Jamaica Bay.
The vacant waterfront property, originally slated for private development, could potentially become the borough’s newest seaside sanctuary since being purchased by the Trust for Public Land.
After purchasing the property from original owners Hudson Companies LLC, the Trust donated the land to the New York City Parks & Recreation Department. Exactly what Parks plans to build on the land remains an uncertainty.
Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, said that although previously published reports stated that the land was in line for use as a public waterfront for boating, fishing and picnicking, he has not been contacted by Parks with a definite plan.
“All we know for sure is that Parks has possession of the land,” said Gaska. “But we’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen on the spot.”
Gaska also said that turning the property into a waterfront park would be ideal, if the plan is financially sound and has the community’s best interests in mind.
“This proposal preserves the waterfront and gives the community access to the waterfront,” he said. “As long as it’s done right and funded properly, it’s a good thing.”
While exact plans are still being discussed, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe said that the city realizes the need for open spaces and that public access to the waterfront is a top priority.
“New York City is committed to increasing access to our waterfront,” said Benepe. “From the East River, to the Hudson River, to the Bronx River, to Jamaica Bay, there are more opportunities than ever for New Yorkers to enjoy active and passive recreation.”
The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit group specializing in land conservation, purchased the property for $1.925 million, more than $1 million less than its market price.
As to why the original owners decided to sell the property at a reduced price, a spokesperson for Hudson Companies said that they saw a golden opportunity to do right by the community and to make a smart business deal at the same time.
Leslie Wright, state director for the Trust, said that her company keeps a particular focus on the New York estuary, and has been eyeing the area for several years. She believes that Jamaica Bay holds a very important ecosystem and habitat, and it should remain a natural land.
“We approached the land owner about this beautiful piece of property in Jamaica Bay,” said Wright. “There is not enough open space in this neighborhood, and this land will offer the community a direct link to the waterfront.”