After months of community outcry, the destroyed fence along Cross Bay Boulevard next to a plot of land on Jamaica Bay at the mouth of Shellbank Basin has finally been taken down.
Crews began dismantling the fence on Saturday and the work continued through Tuesday.
The barrier, which was partially destroyed in Hurricane Sandy 17 months ago, was located along the eastern side of Cross Bay Boulevard between 165th Avenue and the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge from a small parcel of land along Jamaica Bay and Shellbank Basin. The piece of land, which is owned by the National Park Service as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, is popular with fisherman and was the focus of community ire last summer when garbage piled up at the site. The fence seperates the federal portion of the land from city property.
Dorothy McCloskey, a Howard Beach resident and president of The Friends of Charles Park Committee — which deals with issues at the park directly across the basin from the site — demanded the NPS clean up the site and fix the fence last August. The federal agency did a cleanup last September, but the fence still had not been fixed.
“It’s dangerous, someone can really get hurt,” McCloskey said last summer. In one location, the sharp edges of the chain link portion of the fence were sticking out of the ground.
The final remnants of the fence came down on Tuesday
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) called on the NPS to fix the fence several weeks ago.
“They called me on Thursday and basically said ‘we get the message, we’ll do it as soon as possible,’” Goldfeder said. “I’m still waiting for confirmation on when the new fence is going up, but the fact that they’ve taken it down is a step in the right direction.”
But McCloskey said she was not satisfied. She wanted to see the fence completely replaced and said it was unsafe to leave the space completely unprotected.
“You can’t just take down this fence and not have a plan to replace it,” McCloskey said, adding that she was afraid a person would wander onto the property and fall into the water, which is only several yards from the sidewalk on Cross Bay Boulevard, heavily used by pedestrians and bike riders going across the Addabbo Bridge.
“We don’t want to have a situation where a child goes missing there,” she said. “The currents are bad there and you can easily fall in if you’re not careful and never be seen again.”