National Park Service employees were in front of the Aviator Sports complex last week at Floyd Bennett Field seeking the public’s input into how they want to see the Gateway National Recreation area developed over the next 20 years.
The input comes as the NPS starts work on a General Management Plan (GMP) for Gateway, as the last one was completed in 1979.
The Aviator Sports Complex and Floyd Bennett Field on the southern end of Flatbush Avenue are both part of 26,000-acre national recreation area that forms the outer ring of New York Harbor including Brooklyn Queens, New Jersey and Staten Island.
“Gateway National Recreation area is starting its long-range plan and we are asking members of public what they think should happen in the park. What do they like? What should they change? What do they think should happen? How should we best protect its resources?” said NPS spokesperson Helen Mahan.
Mahan said the plan itself won’t get started for two years. Next spring they will be looking at possible changes to the park in a very public process with the final plan expected in the summer of 2012, Mahan said.
Pete McCarthy, the NPS acting superintendent of the Jamaica Bay unit of Gateway, which encompasses Brooklyn and Queens, said over the past 10 to 12 years the Brooklyn section of the park has seen significant amenities and improvements.
One of those amenities is Aviator Sports, which has brought in a $30 million private investment in facilities including sports fields, ice skating rinks, basketball courts, a gymnastic area, rock climbing and several sports fields.
“This [Aviator] has been very successful as far as the park is concerned,” said McCarthy, adding that not only are the facilities first-class, but the complex brings a lot of people to the recreation area.
Floyd Bennett Field also has an aircraft collection at Hangar B that is doing quite well in drawing visitors, he said. There is a $4.8 million renovation slated for the Ryan Visitor’s Center that is expected to start in November and be completed around June 2011, he said.
As for the GNP, McCarthy and others set up tables outside Aviator and will return in September for more input on what the public wants to see.
Sheepshead Bay resident Adriann Musson, who is also the president of the Floyd Bennett Garden Association, said in the next 20 years she’d like to see more community gardens.
“We have 150 people on the waiting list to start gardens here and already have 452 gardeners,” said Musson.
Other suggestions included more picnic areas, nature paths and a larger wildlife refuge.
For more information on Gateway and the 20-year GMP, visit www.nps.gov/gate.