Photo Courtesy of the Office of Councilman Constantinides
Councilman Constantinides (foreground) and Dan Mundy, Jr. of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers on a recent trip out on the bay.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The City Council recently approved a legislative package that includes a bill to establish the Jamaica Bay Task Force.
According to the council, Introduction 750-A would create the body to provide advice and recommendations to the City regarding the cleanup of Jamaica Bay and its resiliency. The duties of the task force will include a review of measures proposed to restore and maintain the water quality and ecological integrity of the bay and an analysis of the impacts of sea-level rise on the bay and the surrounding watershed, including the underground aquifer and groundwater service area.
The environmental protection package includes two other pieces of legislation. Introduction 628-A would require the City to create a map of the areas of the city that are most vulnerable to flooding due to the anticipated impacts of climate change and sea level rise. This local law would also require the City to create a mitigation plan to address the flooding. The initial map would be prepared by 2020 and subsequent maps would need to be prepared no later than April 22, 2023 and no later than every four years after April 22, 2023.
Introduction 749-A would require development of a pilot program in Southeastern Queens to use dewatering discharge as a means of heating and cooling buildings. Dewatering is the process by which excess groundwater is removed from the lower levels of existing buildings to facilitate building operations. The bill would also require the City to study the efficiency and efficacy of existing geothermal systems in City buildings.
“Passing the Jamaica Bay legislative package reflects our commitment to restore and enhance our precious waterways,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection and the bills’ sponsor. “Today, as we recognize Climate Week and the global threats of our changing environment, we can deliver a big win for the people of Queens. These bills will explore getting groundwater out of basements, set up a task force of stakeholders on rebuilding the bay, and create a pathway for protecting our most vulnerable neighborhoods against floods.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) commended Constantinides for his latest legislative work that focuses on securing the “ecological jewel” that is Jamaica Bay.
“Investing, protecting, and preserving our environment must be a top priority—not only now, but for generations to come,” she added. “These safeguards seek to ensure that.”