The funds are...
By Courtney Dentch
The Eastern Queens Alliance, a group that is dreaming of restoring the wetlands at Idlewild Park and creating trails and pathways, received a $340,000 state Department of Environmental Conservation grant last week to put toward that goal.
The funds are part of the Eastern Queens Alliances plan to protect the 225 acres of deteriorating wetlands and salt marshes and build an environmental center in the Rosedale park, said Barbara Brown, the groups chairwoman.
The $340,000 marked for Idlewild Park makes up the bulk of $350,000 in environmental benefit projects funding issued by the state DEC July 8, the agency said. The Flushing Meadow Park Conservancy is also slated to get $10,000 to promote the use of bike paths in that park, the DEC said.
At Idlewild Park, the money is to be used to develop trails and pathways in the park as well as for restoration and air quality studies, Brown said. The park was nominated for the funding by state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans).
Thats part of the strategic action plan with restoration of Idlewild Park, she said. There needs to be trails and walkways for people to get out in the park.
The groups plan also includes construction of an environmental center as part of a project that will cost a total of $2 million, Brown said. The Idlewild Preservation Committee is developing a complete master restoration plan which will include these projects, she said.
About 75 percent of the wetlands suffer from damage brought on by development in the area. The park, bounded to the south, west and east by Rockaway, Springfield and Brookville boulevards and stretching as far north as 149th Avenue, was originally designed as a buffer between Kennedy Airport and Rosedale.
But airport projects and related businesses have taken their toll, Brown said. About 25 acres of wetlands were taken from the park to build the International Air Cargo center, and construction planned for the Nassau Expressway could mean the highway would bisect the park, she said.
The DEC funds will help the Eastern Queens Alliance and the Idlewild Preservation Committee restore the wetlands.
The initiatives made possible by this funding will foster natural resource awareness and simultaneously provide immediate benefits to this vital ecosystem, said DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty. Jamaica Bay is one of New York states most important waterways, and it is crucial that we expand our efforts to improve the health of the watershed.
The group also got a grant from the Kaplan Foundation for $9,000 earmarked for public relations and outreach, Brown said. The money will enable the Idlewild Preservation Committee, a part of the Eastern Queens Alliance, to issue newsletters and raise community awareness about the wetlands, she said.
The $10,000 set aside for the Flushing Meadow Park Conservancy is meant to help promote use of the parks bike paths by developing signage for the paths, the DEC said. A goal of the project is to encourage people to use alternate transportation such as bikes to limit vehicle traffic and exhaust emissions in the area, the release said.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2003 Community News Group
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