Was it a sunrise launch into Jamaica Bay at the Casting for Recovery Charity Kayak Fishing Tournament, a peek into a seine net that had captured a tiny sea horse, or the sight of a wild rabbit scampering out of the bushes? Did you ever experience a moment that brought you face to face with the “eternal”?
Perhaps you executed a perfect spin on ice skates, or re-lived the 1970’s with the other, more musical, “Spinners.” I know a group of young ladies from Rockaway who spent four years mastering the sport of lacrosse, coached by a dedicated young teacher. They became the citywide champions in their sport, besting the perennially dominant team from Staten Island. Maybe you have had the pleasure of such a moment at Floyd Bennett Field.
Many of us cherish the open space at the historic air field. What a great place for star-gazing! Even if we do have to pay a bridge toll to attend a composting workshop conducted by the Floyd Bennett Gardens Association.
Birders want to restore more of Floyd Bennett’s grassland habitat because it provides resting cover for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. The Aviator sports facility ball fields, hard on the border of the “North Forty” natural area, set up a potential conflict between the birders and the soccer fans.
A blue-ribbon task force has been selected by Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Anthony Weiner, composed of the heads of city and federal agencies responsible for Jamaica Bay. The residents of Brooklyn and Queens have been asked to weigh in on how they use Floyd Bennett, and to describe what they see as the challenges for the park in the future. Two sets of public listening sessions were held in September, 2010—one at Floyd Bennett, and one at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
At the listening sessions, even those of us who visit Floyd Bennett Field fairly regularly were surprised to learn of user groups we did not previously know about. As an example, I had no idea that a not-for-profit group in existence since 1898, The Century Road Club Association, has been regularly using the runways for bicycle racing on the weekends.
More than a few community participants at the sessions, myself included, strongly advocated that the groups now using Floyd Bennett should be given support and assistance, with both publicity and funding, in order to advance their present stewardship of the park and make the public aware of all that these groups are contributing.
Will the feds follow these suggestions? Or will they locate a 95-seat school for emotionally troubled high school dropouts in the old Job Corps building at Floyd Bennett, as has been suggested?
The blue ribbon panel is expected to make its report in January 2011. Long-time users of the site have been through this waiting game before…and before…and before. We’ll see.