With a stroke of a pen on Tuesday afternoon, New York City and the federal government landed on the same page concerning Gateway National Recreation Area, aiming to create a partnership between the two levels of government that manage land in and around Jamaica Bay.
“The United States and New York City have joined forces to establish a single seamless park that not only is readily accessible to New Yorkers, but also invites them as a place to bring their families, enjoy nature, get some exercise or learn about history,” said U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Under the Cooperative Management Agreement signed by Mayor Bloomberg and Salazar this week that will streamline operations at Gateway, the city and the federal government agreed to promote more recreational spaces in Gateway, especially around Jamaica Bay, including more camping, boating, nature trails and community activity areas. The agreement also mandates the National Park Service, the sub-agency of the Interior Department that manages Gateway, and the city to coordinate habitat restoration, ecological research and resource management.
The agreement was first announced in October, 2011 when the Environmental Protection Agency labeled Jamaica Bay a “no-discharge zone,” banning boats from discharging sewage into Jamaica Bay and other waterways around New York Harbor.
Public transportation will also be a focus under the agreement, with more public transit, ferry, bike and pedestrian access to the parkland in the Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes most of the land around Jamaica Bay and some of the Staten Island shorefront.
The city and the federal government will also provide unified signage, maps and marketing materials and develop new revenue sources including philanthropic support such as the establishment of a new non-profit “Friends” group that will work with NPS and the city to raise funds for planning and development of parkland in Gateway.
“This historic partnership will improve our city’s great natural treasure – Jamaica Bay — by creating restored, resilient natural landscapes, more outdoor recreation, new and cutting-edge research collaborations, and an improved, sustainable transportation framework,” Bloomberg said.
The city and NPS released a request for a university or other academic partnership interested in managing an intensive research program focusing exclusively on restoration at Jamaica Bay, including the potential to create a new science and ecological research and learning center. The partnership comes as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC program and the Obama administration’s America’s Great Outdoors program, which includes a focus on urban parks.
“There is no better place than New York City to fulfill the vision of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a network of world-class urban parks across the country in partnership with state and local governments, local communities and city residents themselves,” Salazar said.