By Rebecca Henely
As Green Shores NYC completed its listening sessions last week, the conglomeration of six activist groups found most residents were happy with the Astoria/Long Island City waterfront, but had a number of ideas for how to improve it.
“We’ve just heard a lot of great feedback from lots and lots of the great areas that we have,” said Ilana Teitel, visioning committee chairwoman for Green Shores NYC.
In five listening sessions beginning in July and ending Sept. 14, Green Shores NYC visited six different sections of Astoria and Long Island City — including Upper Ditmars, Astoria Park, Hallet’s Point, Ravenswood, Queensbridge and Hunter’s Point — with the goal of building a connected, accessible waterfront from Bowery Bay to Newtown Creek. The project is meant to compliment Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Waterfront Revitalization Program.
“They’re doing a citywide plan, they don’t have the opportunity to really engage people,” said Andy Stone, director of the city branch of the Trust for Public Land, which helped oversee the meetings.
During these sessions, residents were asked to split into groups and mark out on maps what they liked about the waterfront, what they did not like about the waterfront, what they usually did at the waterfront and which routes they usually took to get to the waterfront.
“We feel like we had a good turnout,” Stone said. “I think we were struck by the positive nature of all the interactions and the energy around the breakout groups.”
Teitel said approximately 120 people overall came to the listening sessions. Most of them felt that the parks in the area were great, although they mentioned some maintenance issues that could be improved upon. Some attractions specifically highlighted on the waterfront included the Long Island City Community Boathouse, Gantry Plaza State Park, kayaking at Hallet’s Cove and the Astoria Pool.
“Obviously, people love the view, just about anywhere where they can get close to the water,” Teitel said.
Complaints tended to focus around the Upper Ditmars area and the lack of access to the waterfront, she said.
“If you look at the map, it’s almost all industrial and power plants,” Teitel said.
Stone also said that while Queensbridge Park was well-used, the deteriorated sea wall and the lack of access to the water was a problem.
“I think we did get a pretty good sense of the issues,” Stone said of the listening sessions.
Yet now that the issues have been marked out, Green Shores NYC will soon be looking for ways to implement them. Teitel said they will hold another session to design the new waterfront Oct. 6 at the Boys & Girls Club at 21-12 30th Road in Long Island City.
Stone called the project an example of trying to keep people engaged and involved in the issue of the waterfront.
“I think that we’re off to a good start,” Stone said. “I’m extremely impressed with all of Green Shores’ volunteers.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.