Let's go back in time, not too far, just back to last June and the message that made its way into the news about Floyd Bennett Field, Gateway National Recreation Area and the future of urban parks. Let's go to a news realease by NPS and the Department of the Interior. The date in the past is June 13, 2011.
NEW YORK -- Americas Great Outdoors: Salazar Proposes First Steps in Great Urban Park Vision for New York Area: Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar proposed a series of first steps to link parks and other open spaces in the New York City metropolitan area to enable local communities, and especially young people, to connect with the natural beauty and history of the region.
Just a month later, on July 21, 2011 Michael Grimm introduced HR 2606, the bill that will give Ken Salazar as the Secretary, acting as the Secretary of the Interior, the authority to allow the construction of a new natural gas pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, under Jacob Riis Beach and out to sea and the construction and operation of a natural gas metering and regulating facility in Floyd Bennett Field.
A reasonable person might think that the Great Outdoor initiative just announced the month before might mean that the Secretary of the Interior and the National Park Service would have a problem with this bill and with the pipeline project through the park. But that reasonable person would be wrong. The Department of the Interior has testified before both the House and the Senate in support of the bill. Neither of those testimonies made their way in to news releases.
Now lets go back to Salazar's words standing in Floyd Bennett Field in June of last year.
"These are concrete steps we are planning to take under the America's Great Outdoors initiative to create a model for a new generation of Great Urban Parks in America," Salazar said. "We want every citizen of the New York area -- particularly the children -- to have easy and accessible access to outdoor recreation and the cultural and historical heritage that makes this part of the country unique."What exactly is the "model" for a new generation of parks that Salazar is referring to? Is it that we will build urban parks for mixed use? Should national park land be both industrial and recreational? Will we be promoting access to outdoor recreation and cultural and historical heritage by proposing to build a pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area and leasing a piece of its land to the national gas industry for a new industrial facility? Is this a reasonable first step in creating a model urban park or is it just a spectacularly bad idea?
There is a reason that last year's news was only about promoting a positive new vision of our urban parks and not about HR2606 and the pipeline project that is in direct conflict with this message.