As the Hamilton Beach rezoning winds its way through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, coastal resiliency continues to be the most impactful issue concerning the greater Howard Beach and Ozone Park area, according to the head of its community board.
“The ongoing issue in Howard Beach on the major scale is what can we expect will change in attitude towards resiliency efforts that are much needed [and] that require federal funding,” said Community Board 10 Chairperson Betty Braton.
With a Democrat soon in power in the White House, and an incoming Senate majority leader from New York, Braton is hoping that the federal government might make some extra funding available for Queens’ environmental issues and take the reins on a number of resiliency efforts around Howard Beach, including flood gates in Jamaica Bay and assistance with flood insurance for homeowners.
Another environmental issue for the neighborhood involves a set of solar panels that are set to be built over a JFK Airport parking lot starting over the next year that will power the AirTrain and send electricity to the Queens power grid.
The project is expected to produce 12.3 megawatts of electricity and will come with 2.5 megawatts of battery storage.
Braton wants to ensure that residents in her district, which neighbors the airport, actually see the benefit in being able to purchase solar energy from that source and reduce their energy costs. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has said that solar energy will be available to residents who are low-and-moderate income, but it has not defined the income levels that will qualify people for those categories.
With the effects of Tropical Storm Isaias on Ozone Park in recent memory, Braton would also like the city to focus on minimizing tree damage and figuring out how to adequately maintain the condition of street trees in the district.
In the wake of the storm, Braton pointed out that South Queens Community Districts 10, 12 and 13 have consistently ranked to have the most power outages for years, likely due to a combination of above-ground power lines and poor tree health.
Community Board 10 also has ongoing park improvement projects at Frederick B. Judge Park and Police Officer Edward Byrne Park in South Ozone Park.
Now Braton would like to initiate some at Ozone Park spaces like Rocket Park and Indian Fields.
“I kind of do [parks projects] like in a circle-around. This one’s done, now the next one, and the next one,” she said.