Monday, November 22, 2010
Don't get bitten by Snake Road!
From the Columbia Journalist (old but interesting):
Just east of John F. Kennedy International Airport sits one of the largest protected marshlands in all of New York City—Idlewild wetlands, a network of ponds, creeks, and marshes that are a vital part of the Jamaica Bay ecosystem. The sole development on this plot of land, which is protected under environmental laws, is a stretch of Brookville Boulevard known by the local Rosedale community as “Snake Road.”
As an island of concrete in a sea of tall grass, this isolated portion of Brookville Boulevard is a rarity for the five-borough metropolis. Besides being a unique plot of land, the area provides a source of political tension, especially after the recent accident.
The District 31 City Council member, James Sanders Jr., has made an issue out of the road’s condition saying that it should be widened with divider installed. The Council member’s chief of staff, Donovan Richards, said that widening the roadway would eliminate the existing danger and help prevent future accidents.
However, widening the road “would be no easy task,” said Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Queens Community Board 13, which presides over 13 square miles of eastern Queens on the border of Nassau County. Hellenbrecht explained that his community board is pushing for the city to redo tight and winding sections of Little Neck Parkway, but does not anticipate the work being completed for 10 to 15 years. And that is without factoring in the wetlands.
The disputed portion of Brookville Boulevard, which lies between 149th Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard, is flanked by the remnants of a once-vast Jamaica Bay ecosystem. Nearly 80 percent of that system has been destroyed by residential and commercial development. Amid the seeming tranquility of the wetlands, a closer look reveals broken bottles of Captain Morgan’s rum and paper cups with images of golden arches and the red-headed Wendy’s logo. The sound fluctuates between melodic birdcalls and the reverberating roar of low flying jets, and the smell is a mixture of ocean air and noxious gasoline. (See a slideshow of images from Snake Road.)
Aside from making for decent kayaking and bird watching, Idlewild is a convenient hangout for birds on the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory bird route following the Atlantic coast from Canada down to Mexico -- this wetland helps prevent erosion and runoff pollution. Barbara Brown, the chairwoman of the Eastern Queens Alliance, a civic association that seeks to cultivate and protect the park, explains that Idlewild Park serves as a natural sponge, providing flood protection by trapping and slowly releasing surface-water. For nearby communities like Springfield Gardens and Rosedale that have flooded so extensively in the past they have been declared federal disaster areas, a natural sponge is something to be preserved, Brown says.