Friday, December 28, 2012

Things to Do in December Cause You're Not Dead

Although, I have to remind myself that I'm not actually dead in December and to get up and out in search of the pretty little things of winter (like the remnants of the flowers of tulip trees, magnolias and cardoons past pictured here). It justs feel like I am.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Two Haunts

Bookends for the year: One picture taken near the year's end and one from its early beginnings at two haunts of mine. (The bike lane near Floyd Bennett and over in Prospect Park.)
One definition of haunt I wouldn't have guessed: "to continually seek the company of" and one I would have: "to stay around or persist; to linger". I've always liked the sound of that word, linger.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tis The Season

Chinese Scholar tree winter silhouette
Here, we mark the beginning of the calendar year in the time of bare branches, the landscape largely a canopy of silhouttes and the stubborn remains of flowers past. And though I shouldn't have to remind myself to spend some time outside among these things, it seems somehow again I do.
                                                           Monarda seedhead and stalk

Friday, December 21, 2012

I Had No Idea


Seriously. I had no idea every that I was ever going to be the kind of person that enjoyed arranging boughs even a little bit. Had I never sown a spinach seed, I might have never known.It wasn't weeding a green roof or catching a sedum in bloom, but it was work, the last day of mine for the season a week or so ago and though my fingers felt like they couldn't be any colder, it was fun,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Schumer Likes Natural Gas Facilities in Park, But Bike lanes on his street, not so much

Schumer quietly supports placing private above ground natural gas facilities in New York City parks but not so thrilled about a bike lane on his block

Over at Streetsblog, there is a recap of how some pretty powerful people dominated the news about a bike lane near Prospect Park and Senator Schumer's home. It's enlightening from the prospective of a user of Floyd Bennett Field where Schumer was recently quietly in favor of placing an above ground natural gas facility attached to a high pressure pipeline in this park despite never publically stating his position publically on the facility in question or the legislation that would allow it.

Then again, one has to wonder if his having a public position on HR2606 would have meant anything anyway, when one considers that he had this to say in 2011, just one month before the legislation was introduced that would authorize placing a metering and regulating facility in historic hangars in Floyd Bennett Field: "National Parks are America’s most precious treasures and Gateway National Recreation Area is New York City’s rough-hewn jewel of open space. I’m so pleased that we now have a plan to make Gateway and Floyd Bennett field a sight to see in New York City, and I look forward to turning this blueprint into reality in the years to come,” said Senator Schumer.

All Metering and Regulating Station in Floyd Bennett Field and Rockaway Pipeline through Jacob Riis Beach here:

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's About that time Again

We're in shortest days of the year which means it's probably about time to go out for a walk seeking some paperbush buds.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Upside Down Logic of Williams Transco, Politicians & the National Park Service

Photo of Williams Transco proposed natural gas pipeline (Rockaway Lateral Project) routes and preferred an alternative metering and regulating station sites circa 2009.

 As someone who has followed the progress of how historic hangars IN Floyd Bennett Field came to be the preferred site for a currently proposed metering and regulating station, it's kind of interesting to follow up upside down logic of the thinking of the natural gas companies, politicians and the National Park Service as offered by Williams Transco in their FERC paperwork. A quick look at the photo above shows that neither the preferred metering and regulating station site nor any suggested alternative sites were actually IN Floyd Bennett Field.


So the upside down logic we are considering here is how a location INSIDE the park instead of OUTSIDE the park became "the least intrusive to the Gateway National Recreation Area" or as Dr. Stephanie Toothman of the National Park Service said in her testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks in March 2012 not just not intrusive but actually "a boon for the park".  

Here for example is one of the arguments Williams Transco made in March of 2012: (sections in bold my own emphasis):  "Based on the evaluation criteria used to date and a thorough comparison of the factors that would effect possible metering and regulating facility alternatives, the preferred M&R Facility location presented is the least environmentally damaging and the least intrusive to the GNRA and the surrounding communities. A number of different factors were important in determining the preferred pipeline route. These include:

The Preferred M&R Facility is on a parcel currently owned by the National Park Service,which has expressed a willingness to lease space for the facility.

The Preferred M&R Facility would be within a rehabilitated hangar complex that would
 match the visual aesthetics of Floyd Bennett Field."

In fairness I should say that Williams also pointed out the fact that the hangars are already on a paved surface and that the facility was far away from neighboring communities and in that sentence probably the truest thing is the paved surface part. But in regards to a park and a paved surface, one could say the same about any urban park with a basketball court or other paved surface and to make the case that placing a metering and regulating facility in a park is least intrusive on a community you would have to of course completely ignore the fact that parks are actually used by people who live in communities. 

Does it matter that the metering and regulating station will be attached to not one but two different pipelines, consist of industrial equipment for private natural gas companies and that there is little doubt that it will be a new stationary source of emissions, including the possibility of volatile organic compounds and the small particulate matter that contributes to respitory ailments like asthma? It doesn't seem to. Does it matter that the hangars are not in an out of the way location but in a part of the park actively used by people for recreational purposes? It doesn't seem to. Does it matter that a metering and regulating station of the nature and size that the companies want to build is by definition both industrial and a potential hazard? No. What seems to matter most is that the natural gas facilities will not be seen as the station will be hidden inside existing structures in the park that the National Park Service was looking to lease anyway because it lacked the finances to upkeep the structures properly itself.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Who's Park Is It?

 Protect Your Parks Postcards which were written to senators and the president against the bill that will allow a pipeline right of way under Jacob Riis Beach and the introduction of private industrial infrastructure, pipelines and a metering and regulating station into Floyd Bennett Field.

Over in Queens they too will fight for their park, not against natural gas facilities but a new Soccer Stadium. I like their spirit and their signs as well. The same could be held up over here in Floyd Bennett Field or Jacob Riis Beach. "Who's Park? Our Park" and "No Land Grab for Corporate Profit". But I really like that one that says "Park Not for Sale".

Who's park is it? It's a good question for the mayor and other politicians about Flushing Meadows-Corona Park . And over at Floyd Bennett Field it's a good question for the National Park Service as well. Thousands of people signed various petitions against HR2606. Hundreds wrote letters. And one politician said no too.

A Day in June

What would I give for that now? This was that week in June this year when it went from spring to summer in a blast and the days were long. Next year I'm thinking of a focus on learning more about grass.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Today's Quote: Salazar & Commercial Use of Parks

Over in California, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has decided that "commercial operations are incompatible with wilderness, and Congress wanted this to be a wilderness", according to the NYtimes when making a decision about allowing the renewal of an oyster farming permit in Point Reyes National Seashore, part of the National Park Service. Here in New York City though according to the testimony of the high-level National Park Service representatives who work under Salazar the opposite is said in support of the introduction of industrial infrastructure, natural gas facilities that will support a new pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area. In that case, according to Stephanie Toothman's testimony before the Senate Subcomittee on National Parks, a metering and regulating station is a "boon" for Floyd Bennett Field and Gateway NRA.

Of course if you want to believe in fairy tales, I guess there is always the chance that a pipeline through the park and a new metering and regulating station fits in with Salazar and Bloomberg's plans to create a seamless park that will contribute to the goals of President Obama's Great Outdoors Iniative, but I'm not seeing it. And I'm pretty sure that the enabling legislation that created this park, one of the most visited of all national park units in the country had nothing at all to do with commercial use or industrial use of the area. Quite the opposite in fact. I think it preserved the area for recreational and natural uses.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rockaway Pipeline Project Again in Gotham Gazette

                            Native Grass, Floyd Bennett Field, Gateway National Recreational Area

The Gotham Gazette once again took a good hard look at the Rockaway Pipeline Project, this time from a post-hurricane Sandy perspective. It's been an interesting week in news coverage on the project. Now that the bill that will allow for the pipeline right of way through the beach and the metering and regulating station to be built in the park if the project is approved was signed into law by President Obama, it seems some major news outlets decided it was finally time to report on the story. Many of course simply just cut and pasted press releases by the mayor or Michael Grimm or AP stories. Some did not mention Gateway National Recreation Area, Jacob Riis or Floyd Bennett Field at all, simply referring to the pipeline route as through certain sections of Queens and Brooklyn. Since I studied journalism before falling in love with plants, the way the story of this pipeline and metering station has been covered frustrates me. That kind of reporting fails journalism's fundamental role to inform the public about the issues of the day. It's comforting to see then the kind of reporting that doesn't just gloss over the issues like the kind done in that Gotham Gazette artice. (and I'm not just saying that because I managed to get in the piece at the very end.)

There are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered about the Rockaway Pipeline project and its accompanying Brooklyn Queens Interconnect Pipeline project. For me one of them is why has one of the most ecologically important regions in Brooklyn and Queens been the choice for where this pipe will be laid and who got input on that decision and oversight of the process? I know that park users didn't. And I know from my experience gardening at Floyd Bennett Field that this park is not just an old airport with decrepit buildings. It may not be what it was promised to be when Gateway National Recreation Area came into being 40 years ago, but it is a link in this larger park and it has a purpose and a function that has nothing at all to with providing Brooklyn and Queens natural gas.



The Marine Parkway Bridge-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, as seen from above, with Floyd Bennett Field across the Rockaway Inlet and the new route of natural gas pipelines under the bridge
 Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin (click on picture or here for MTA flickr page)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Last Visit to the Community Garden

Before Floyd Bennett Field was completely closed to the public as a park and morphed into its current temporary role as an operations base for FEMA, the national guard and other large-scale responses to the destruction of Hurricane Sandy to the surrounding area, a visit to the community garden revealed the beauty of this season, a single miniature rose still about to bloom as leaves and seed heads browned. In this season there is already the promise of the future. Seeds fall as new buds ride out the winter on the tips of branches waiting for spring and what remains of one season bleeds into the next.

I have been lucky with gardening. Bicycle rides through the Rockaways led to an application at the community garden in Floyd Bennett Field. I learned the simple pleasure of growing vegetables alongside others which led to pursuing horticulture alongside others at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I have fed off not just my own discoveries but off a shared enthusiams with others. As much as I love wandering solo at Floyd Bennett Field or stopping by the side of the road to check out a bloom or a bug, a flower, weed, or seedhead, in my mind there is always the desire to have someone there to share the small delights of the moments with. For me there has always been community wrapped up in gardening. There is communion not just with the earth but a connection shared with others. And as at my community garden where I walk in the footsteps of others, the ones who were her before me in the decades-long history of this garden in this old airfield, I also plant seeds for plants that have been changed over time through the centuries of man walking the earth and cultivating it.

For me no garlic for next year. The park is closed and I didn't get the chance to plant any. In the grand scheme of things, this is not so important. But just as future garlic lies in the bulbs planted this season, the choices of the day map out the future. The future of the place where I garden, natural gas facilities in the form of a large metering and regulating facility proposed for this park, is being decided right now and I don't care for the direction that's being chosen.

"the idea of a garden--as a place, both real and metaphorical, where nature and culture can be wedded in a way that can benefit both--may be as useful to us today as the idea of wilderness has been in the past."     Michael Pollan, Second Nature A Gardeners Education

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Thursday, November 29, 2012

HR2606 President signed

                                    Veto HR2606 Protect Your Parks Postcards to Obama

This week President Obama signed HR2606, the bill that does two things. 1. It gives the Secretary of the Interior the authorization to allow permits for a natural gas pipeline right of way under Jacob Riis beach in the Rockaways, Queens. 2. It also gives the Secretary of the Interior the power to allow a metering and regulating station, an indstrial facility, to be built in Floyd Bennett Field, which is a park that is part of the larger park, Gateway National Recreation Area. Now I know that there are plenty of NYC citizens who have signed petitions and written letters against this bill. I also know that too often in the news, the alienation of a part of this park and the introduction of this private industrial use of the park, the very large metering and regulating facility is completely left out.

Floyd Bennett field is currently the site of FEMA operations, a resource for neighborhoods impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but in its regular life, it is also a resource. It is a park used by kayakers, birders, cyclists, campers, high school football teams, families and the largest single group of communty gardeners in New York City. The current proposed site for this most likely precedent setting metering and regulating station is historic hangars a few hundred feet from that community garden at the Gateway of this park that Senator Schumer once said could be the crown jewel of NYC parks. There is a lot to consider when following the story of the rockcaway lateral pipeline and its accompanying project the Brooklyn Queens Interconnect. But one of the important things is the story of how this alienation of part of this park and the introduction of industrial infrastructure that will be wholly outside the park's purpose came to be. And it did not come to be so through a democratic process that included citizens and park users in any way.

Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Monday, November 19, 2012

Veto HR2606, Their Words, Not Mine

                                       Veto HR2606 Protect Your Parks Postcards to Obama

It's too bad that President Obama is a busy man and won't likely ever see the Veto HR2606 postcards that Joe has been collecting from Gateway National Recreation Area users and New York City citizens, but perhaps his mail staff will get to enjoy some thouh. The fun thing about letters written in people's own words is the variety, the many flavors of expression. From the aghast but succinct, "The idea of natural gas facilities in Gateway National Recreation Area boggles the mind. It goes against everything the National Park stands for.", to the supercasual "Because it's the right thing to do man." There are invitations: "I'm asking you to veto this because it serves a huge purpose to a lot of people. It's great relaxation and wonderful for the children. If you took a moment and visited, I'm sure you would enjoy it." And forceful demands. " Dear Mr. President, I attended the G.K Youth Conference at the national park. I, as a student leader, demand you to be the leader that your people want you to be by protecting our green spaces and vetoing this Act."

A cookie cutter formula would never be as revealing. I would love to put them all up somewhere, the pages and pagies of copies Joe made for someone to see all together. All that different handwriting together in a collage that I'm sure would cover a wall or two.
Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Veto HR2606 letter postcards to Obama (this week)

                                   Veto HR2606 Protect Your Parks Postcards to Obama

As HR2606 gets ready to arrive on President Obama's desk, some new postcards from park users and NYC citizens get ready to be mailed. In their own words:
1. "It's essential that you veto HR2606, NYC Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act. Save our wildlife."
2. "Please veto HR2606, the NYC Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act. It is important, not only for the millions of residents of NYC, but for the country. We must protect the national parks from corporate interests."
3. "Please don't destroy what little natural beauty and public wild areas we have left in NY! Please help our souls which need nourishment more than gas."
4. "I'm writing to request that you please veto HR2606. I don't believe, and Ikm sure many will agree, that a natural gas pipeline should be placed under Gateway National Recreation Area. This land is meant to be preserved for future generations and must be protected."
5."I am writing to ask you to veto HR2606, NYC Natural Gas Enhancement Act. I love Riis beach. It is for the public not gas companies."
6. "Veto HR2606. We need to protect our national parks for people and animals."
7. "President Obama please veto HR2606 and protect our natonal parks. We need real answers to climate change."
8."Our nation and city faces enough environmental problems as is. We certainly don't need to chance our few green spaces. Please veto HR2606."
9. "HR 2606 is a terrrible idea because national parks are for animals, nature and people NOT corporations."

I could go on because literally hundreds have been written. But ten will do for now. In their own words and voices, though it's quite clear to me that no one in power is listening.

Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

HR2606 again in the House this Week

 Recently someone described HR2606's upcoming journey this week back to the House floor for concurrence with how it was amended by the Senate as a "formality". The term couldn't be more apt. In fact it perfectly describes this bill and its path through both houses of congress quite well. The bill is simply a formality to be dispensed with, the park just an impediment in the path of a pipeline project, and it has been from the beginning. The truth of when this deal was done is summed up quite neatly in one sentence of Williams Transco's cultural resource report on this pipeline project: "Transco has been working with the NPS on this Project since 2008, and in September 2010 Transco and NPS began discussions about the potential lease of Hangars 1 and 2 for use as an M&R Facility."  Right smack dab at the time the powers that be were calling the public to participate in Blue Panel Ribbon Meetings on the future of Floyd Bennett Field, quietly the deal was made that will finance the repair of historic hangars by turning them into a shell that will cover the new natural gas infrastructure slated for the park. The park gets some money from the lease and maybe the public gets a little token of something they asked for or some vision they had at those meetings.

And so I shouldn't be surprised that this bill is scheduled to reach the House floor once again under a supsension of the rules, just as it did this past February. (Bills passed under suspension of the rules are typically non-controversial I just learned, like the naming of post offices, and as such require little debate. A pipeline through the beach and some of the richest marine habitat around and the sale of cultural resources supposedly protected by the National Park Service for private industrial use sounds on par to the naming a post office, right? What's to debate? What's a park for anyway? )

It's like Stephanie Toothman said in her testimony in support of this bill. The pipeline and the metering station are a "boon" for the park and the thousands of park users who have signed petitions or written postcards against it, well, apparently we're just not smart enough to spot a good thing when it comes our way. Suspend the rules? Suspend your disbelief sounds more like it.

Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Monday, November 12, 2012


                                                                 At Floyd Bennett Field

The weather, so balmy the last few days, spoke to another season but not so the length of the day. It almost felt like spring, but the sun still sank early and its been dark now for hours.                          

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On Accounting for HR2606 Passage

Some day not too far in the future NPS may have to tackle the all important question of interpretation or signage for the new metering and regulating station proposed for historic hangers at Floyd Bennett Field. Perhaps tours can be given recounting the history of Barren Island, filling for the airport and the passage of the important legislation that will bring the natural gas industry into the park. Upon HR2606 passing in the wee hours on Sept 22nd, Boss Bloomberg offered a press release thanking some people: "I want to thank Senator Schumer who sponsored this important legislation as well as Senators Bingaman and Murkowski who helped make passage possible. I would also like to acknowledge the important role of the National Park Service in this process." It's interesting that he thanked Senator Schumer for "sponsoring" the legislation as there is no public record of the Senator's role in the passing of this bill. The senator was never on record as having a position either in favor or against the bill and HR2606 is a bill with very few "sponsors". But since the mayor thanked him we can assume he had a behind the scenes role in the bill's passing. On the other hand, the National Park Service is on record twice testifying in support of this bill that authorizes a natural gas pipeline right of way through the beach and alienation of a chunk of parkland at Floyd Bennett Field to Williams Transco and National Grid for their metering and regulating facility. And while the official spin is that the bill will only allow NPS to negotiate the terms of a lease to these companies, it's interesting to know that one of the arguments in support of the bill made by legislators in the House was that the National Park Service had already come to an agreement about leasing those hangars to the natural gas companies. So what's left to negotiate? The dollar amount?

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In Remembrance of a Ride Past, Tour for the Shore

Tour for the Shore, Clean Ocean Action's Bike/Paddle Journey from Cape May to Montauk
This summer past, Joe and I participated in one short little leg of a pretty awesome bike/paddle trek that Clean Ocean Action went on in order to promote awareness of their Clean Ocean Zone iniative. Powered by pedal and paddle, human legs and arms and either into the wind or being pushed on by it, the Clean Ocean team travelled all the way from Cape May in New Jersey to Montauk in New York, the tip of Long Island. That's fierce.

Standup Paddle Event in NYC, the morning's meetup place
It's hard not to think about that beautiful day in the sun (the talk of native plants and stormwater capture among many other thing) and the path that the Tour For the Shore travelled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's destruction of so many beautiful places that were passed through on their epic journey. (Joe and I did a one day ride with them to talk to the group about our own fight against HR 2606 and to hear about the citizen bill that Clean Ocean would like to see introduced in order to project the entire NY/NJ Bight from harmful practices, whether dumping, industrial or otherwise.)
It'd be nice to think that by the time next August rolls around and if another tour is planned that the shore and the communities all along it in New Jersey and here in New York are well on their way to recovery. A lot can happen in a year, but some of the damage in these locations is so staggering that I hope I'm not being too optimistic.

Joe, me  Sean from Clean Ocean Action and Kathleen from American Littoral at 69th Street fishing pier, Bayridge

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


 After a week spent indoors and one illness after another, a late afternoon recovery walk to Prospect Park brought me by a most sweet-smelling Camellia on Eastern Parkway, grass catching the last light of the day in front of the Brooklyn Central library and a massive tree stump in the park that looked like it had a story or two to tell.

The air was cold but the sun on my face felt so much like a warm welcome that it seemed liked it had to be trying to comfort me. I don't formally practice a faith, but you wouldn't be far off if you said I was something of a sun worshipper.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Man and His Bobcat

I think it was over 20 trees knocked down or dangerously uprooted by the storm at the community garden. But with gardeners armed with some serious tools, the hard work of cleaning up is already well underway.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Private Use and National Parks,Community Gardens vs Natural Gas Companies?

Native bumblee feeding on Cercis Canadensis at Floyd Bennett Community Garden, Gateway National Recreation Area

Twice now, the community garden at Floyd Bennett Field has been described to me as a private use of a public space when someone up on high has been questioned about HR2606 and placing industrial gas metering and regulating facilities in historic hangars at Floyd Bennett Field. The first time was by Schumer's office and the second time by the National Parks Conservation Association this afternoon. This is interesting. They are referring to a report here which seems to mostly be about uses that dominate desirable areas, with high fees and not the community garden at Floyd Bennett Field which has actually made something out of nothing at the field and provides a measurable benefit to many people from various neighborhoods all across Brooklyn and Queens.

It's interesting that both Schumers office and NPCA want to make the community garden out to be the bad guy here. NPCA even said there were other city parks we could be moved to. I find that infuriating as the community garden I belong to is as good an example of President Obama's Great Outdoor Iniative as any and it has been so for much longer than that iniative's existance. It is maintained by the people who belong to the garden, an everychanging roster of 400 plus families and it is beneficial to not only the people who use it but the wildlife that visit, including the local pollinators who know it as habitat.

NPCA's attack on the community garden is unforgiveable considering their inability to come out against HR2606 and new industrial use of the airfield despite more than one report they have either published or co-authored that calls for moving inappropriate uses out of the park. If they seriously think that community and recreational uses of the field like the garden, which are beneficial to people, the environment and wildlife are part of the problem and not part of the solution, they seem so very sadly out of touch with reality. 

Who knew that according to Schumer and NPCA, a community use of the park could be seen as more inappropriate than the proposed industrial facilities by private natural gas companies, which they are in support of? Man, have they got it all upside down or what.

 Native bee feeding on Verbena bonariensis in my garden plot at Floyd Bennett Field

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This Was Last Week and Today

There are mums in a little bottle that were harvested last week at the community garden. In the wake that follows Hurricane Sandy, there are no worries about my own garden because it is a thing that can always be rebuilt, just as it builds itself anew every year. After the storm there is only the searching for news about what has been destroyed elsewhere and what survives, the finding out how family and friends are doing, who has power and who doesn't.

 Last week there were many moments of incredible beauty and warmth. The loveliness of this sweet marigold in the last light of the day in Martha's garden and Amsonia up in the skyline of midtown Manhattan.

Today in the aftermath of this insane storm it is gray, our street quiet and unscathed, but inside on the computer screen in the news the images are entirely the opposite.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Postcards on HR2606 versus PR on Floyd Bennett Field

The postcards to President Obama to Veto HR2606 stand by themselves. They are simple messages written in objection to a bill. They represent people's attempt to participate in the decision making process despite a very clear message being sent down from those in power up above that the people do not deserve a voice.

At the same time that these messages are being written and people are asking NPS and politicians to protect our park, those people who have already made the decision to run a pipeline right of way through Jacob Riis beach and alienate a piece of Floyd Bennett Field, historic hangars in order to allow a metering and regulating facility to support that pipeline, are doing a little PR by planting trees in Floyd Bennett Field. Do you think they took the opportunity to talk to the public about how they think industrial use of Floyd Bennett Field by Williams Transco and National Grid is an appropriate introduction into the park as they dug holes to plant 5000 trees?

Tree planting is an appropriate thing to do in a park. Building industrial infrastructure that is wholly outside of the park's purpose and introducing pollution is not. Back in 2009 Williams Transco admitted there were land use issues that would challenge them in finding an appropriate site for their metering and regulating facility. HR2606 removes that challenge by allowing them to build this facility right in the park. It's quite the coup for the natural gas companies considering there is only public talk by officials about making this park an example nationally of what a great urban national park should be.

At October's End

 Martha harvests some flowers to take home and pumpkin and loofah grown in the pumpkin patch get laid out for the annual Halloween party at the community garden. Before this blog became focused on the pipeline and the appropriation of a piece of  Floyd Bennett Field, our park, for industrial use, it was focused on small moments in the lives of plants and the joy of little discoveries made when immersed in that world. I still have those moments all the time at work on green roofs and in the garden or now in fall when there is much to observe, enjoy and learn as the leaves are starting to turn and fall on the city streets. The skies have been gray now for days as a storm makes it way toward us, but the brilliance of the colors of this season is undeniable in any light.

Friday, October 26, 2012

HR2606..they all have their ducks in a line

"This legislation doesn’t mean that the facilities have been approved by the Park Service, FERC, or any other regulatory agency. This legislation simply gives the National Park Service the authority to authorize construction of certain facilities within the park’s jurisdictional boundaries."Williams

The legislation only allows the National Park Service to negotiate a lease with the natural gas companies. (Schumer's office)

What a load of crap. Under current law, the National Park Service does not have the authority to allow a right of way for the gas pipeline under Jacob Riis Beach nor can it allow a giant metering and regulating station to be built in Floyd Bennett Field. But if this bill is passed again in the House and signed by the president, this is no longer the case. The public trail on this bill is pretty slim. Two cosponsors, passed by mostly an empty room on a suspensions of the rules in the House because apparently alienation of national park land and pipelines through the beach aren't controversial. And two minutes of testimony in support by NPS in Senate Subcomittee. Of course, National Grid and Williams lobbied for it too. The public? Just signing petitions against and sending postcards saying no, but those aren't the voices that really matter.