Sunset Cove in Broad Channel has been reborn. A decade ago this portion of the Jamaica Bay waterfront was a dumping ground but after a $14 million ecological restoration it is a pristine salt marsh and bird habitat.
The city’s Parks Department joined elected officials and community leaders to cut the ribbon to officially open the new park Tuesday and celebrate the new open space that will also help protect Broad Channel from floodwaters and improve the health of Jamaica Bay.
“After being closed for a decade, Sunset Cove has been brought back to life,” NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. “This park is so important because it provides storm protection, and improves the health of our waterways. It’s a park where people can come to take in the waterfront views, and to learn more about Jamaica Bay, one of the wildest and most natural areas in our city.”
Sunset Cove Park is a 12.57-acre site located on a former abandoned and derelict marina. Workers removes nearly 30,000 cubic yards of hazardous and contaminated soil, restored 4.5 acres of salt marsh and 7 acres of maritime upland, constructed a perimeter berm and walking trail, installed 16,000 tons of clean sand and planted 200,000 new plugs to reestablish the salt marsh. A second phase of construction will build a boardwalk to provide shoreline access over the salt marsh, as well as a seasonal dock and oyster garden with construction beginning in 2021.
“It was amazing to see the major changes made to Sunset Cove as we ushered in a new day for the Broad Channel community,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “What was once a blight area riddled with abandoned boats is now a beautiful, thriving natural space. However, there is still much work to be done at Sunset Cove and I look forward to being part of its Phase 2 environmental and educational improvements.”
NYC Parks partnered with the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and the Jamaica Bay Eco watchers to recruit volunteers to help populate the site with plantings. The restored salt marsh will now help to improve water quality in Jamaica Bay, and reduce wave and wind impacts during storms, and provide rich wildlife habitats and reduce erosion.
“The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers are excited to see the new Sunset Cove Park officially open to the public. This restored natural area will allow visitors to experience the beauty of Jamaica Baty while providing critical ecological functions such as cleaning the waters of the bay, creating critical habitat for the bays wildlife and sequestering carbon to help with climate change,” Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers President Dan Mundy said. “We commend NYC Parks for their great work in producing this vision that the community has had for this area and we welcome residents from all neighborhoods to come down and enjoy this great resource.”
The restoration was stalled until Mayor Bill de Blasio allocated $7 million to match an existing $7 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Construction began in spring 2018 and was completed in June.
“Sunset Cove is such an absolutely incredible victory for this community,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “There’s a balance, a true relationship, between the people of Jamaica Bay and the Bay itself. This community resource will not only show off the natural beauty of our water and its ecosystem, but will create the next generation of environmentalists to preserve and protect it.”