Boating & recreation on the Newtown Creek? Advocates in Queens push a green vision for polluted waterway

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Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

During their most recent meeting in Middle Village, Community Board 5 heard a presentation from the Waterfront Alliance on potentially developing the portion of Newtown Creek that runs adjacent to the district for ecological resilience and recreation in the model of Hunters Point South Park, which was completed over the summer.

Sarah Dougherty, a program associate with the organization, encouraged community leaders to work with companies that may own different industrial facilities along Newtown Creek to not only bring modern methods of flood mitigation to the heavily industrial waterfront of CB6 open the rehabilitate the toxic waterway for activities like boating and kayaking.

“A lot of the work we do is meeting with different landowners and helping them go through questions they have about how to make their sites more sustainable. They went through Sandy or they [still] go through Sandy, and they understand that flood risk is a big problem and they want to try to address that,” Dougherty said. “We did a rendering of different options they can do to make their site more sustainable by increasing wetlands, taking out some of that concrete bulkhead to make a more resilient shoreline … Also putting in public access to allow people to not just get to the water but to get on the water.”

Waterfront Alliance has given their  Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines certification to the EDC’s $100 million redesigns to Hunters Point South which transformed the industrial corner of Long Island City into a model for storm resilience through manmade wetlands rather than a seawall and also advocated for the launch of what is now NYC Ferry.

Working industrial waterfronts can also offer this level of protection from storm surge and recreation, Dougherty said, using an example from Hunts Point in the Bronx, where a former cement plant was turned into a recreational waterfront. Much of the industry along the waterfront of CB6, however, is still working with its own cement plant south of the Grand Street Bridge which may finally get a rebuild after 16 years of advocacy from CB6 and stakeholders.

The rebuild of the bridge will suit the needs of these business which use barges and moveable bridges to transport commodities.

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