Improvements and accessible bus service might be coming to a recreational area near you, Senator Charles Schumer announced on Tuesday, May 12.
The widespread area that makes up Gateway National Recreational Park – an over 26,000-acre stretch of land that encompasses parts of Staten Island, New Jersey, and Jamaica Bay which includes Queens and Brooklyn’s Plum Beach, Shore Parkway, Canarsie Pier, and Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park – has the ability to be used for a diverse set of outdoor activities; something that Schumer says is “invaluable” to New Yorkers, but is being missed out on due to inaccessibility.
“Despite the fact that Gateway National Recreation Area is located in a densely populated area amongst an economically diverse community, the unique potential of this invaluable urban park is hamstrung by insufficient public access to all that it has to offer,” said Schumer.
According to Schumer’s office, the area offers a wide variety of things to do including beaches, camping, biking, bird watching, fishing, and weekly calendar events set up through the National Park Service (NPS), but the over seven million patrons visiting the area through the year, he says are not nearly enough for all that it has to offer.
The Senator reached out to the Department of Interior (DOI) and urged them to work directly with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), in hopes that a collaborative effort will result in funds dedicated towards a comprehensive transportation plan.
“The Department of Interior needs to make sure that kids and families of all economic abilities are able to experience Gateway and that’s why I am strongly urging NPS to work alongside the MTA to develop a comprehensive transportation plan that will help better connect the park to neighboring communities,” added Schumer.
Because of the difficulty to get to the park via public transportation, Schumer said that a NPS bus route would help New Yorkers get better access to Gateway. Schumer also noted that DOI should “target expanded access to Gateway for after school programs, youth groups and other potential youth partnerships within the park.”
Roland Lewis, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) agrees with Schumer and says that the park “is a natural treasure that needs attention.”
Federal investments are urgently needed to improve Jamaica Bay’s ecology and visitor experience, and to help people get there safely and easily.”
“Gateway National Recreation Area still bears the scars from Superstorm Sandy, but has great potential to be a world-class national park, accessible to the nation’s largest urban area,” added Cortney Worrall, Northeast regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. “We must continue to commit to and invest in projects that improve the park and benefit the millions of people who live, work and play nearby and have Jamaica Bay in their backyards.”