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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Going Back Through The FERC PF09-8 files and in time

In 2009, in paperwork filed by Williams "NPS stated that the preferred meter and regulating station should not be located on NPS property."

"National Park Service mangers emphasized their paramount responsibility is to
protect NPS resources, and reiterated their lack of authority to permit a pipeline
Two years later the National Park Service testified in support of legislation that fails to protect the park, and in this year in the Senate NPS called the introduction of a metering and regulating station into Floyd Bennett Field a "boon" for the park. And just last week Senator Schumer's folks said in a meeting with some concerned park users that HR2606 only allows NPS to negotiate a lease with the natural gas companies. That's all it does.
The proper word for Schumer's people to use in regards to this bill is not negotiation. It is alienation. Now in NY state there's a little manual all about this. Only HR2606 is not about a city park or a state park. It's about a national park.
And here's a nice little quote from a report by the RPA and NPCA with some words from Gateway's Management Plan in 1979:
"It is in the coastal zone of one of the most developed regions in the world..it is adjacent to the most densely populated metropolis in the US..it offers the opportunity to demonstrate the abused resources can be restored. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HR 2606 and 16 USC § 1a–2 - Secretary of the Interior’s authorization of activities

k) Leases
(1) In general
Except as provided in paragraph (2) and subject to paragraph (3), the Secretary may enter into a lease with any person or governmental entity for the use of buildings and associated property administered by the Secretary as part of the National Park System.
(2) Prohibited activities
The Secretary may not use a lease under paragraph (1) to authorize the lessee to engage in activities that are subject to authorization by the Secretary through a concessions contract, commercial use authorization, or similar instrument.
(3) Use
Buildings and associated property leased under paragraph (1)—
(A)shall be used for an activity that is consistent with the purposes established by law for the unit in which the building is located;
(B)shall not result in degradation of the purposes and values of the unit; and
(C)shall be compatible with National Park Service programs.
If Williams and National Grid could lease historic hangars for their metering and regulating facility under current law, why is the lease even in the bill? Because its non-competitive?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Phone Call with NPCA on HR2606

Despite the National Parks Conservation Association's all-American mission statement (which mirrors the mission of the National Park Service), "to enhance and protect America's national parks for present and future generations", NPCA doesn't seem to have any problem at all with legislation that introduces both a pipeline right of way and a new industrial private use of a piece of Gateway National Recreation Area. It's all good for them. Yikes. Even the National Parks Conservation Association fails to see the difference between an industrial park and a national park.

The National Parks Conservation Association told me I'm failing to see the big picture here. This is interesting. Because the way I see it the big picture is the National Park Service violating their own policy on civic engagement and failing to include the public in their decision to place a metering and regulating station in historic hangars in Floyd Bennett Field.

I'm pretty familiar with the high-level runaround by now when asking anyone about HR2606. The thing is I'm also familiar with some of the paperwork in FERC on Williams Rockaway Lateral, so I actually know that the line that putting the metering and regulating facility in those hangars has the least impact on the park is complete nonsense. Over time, the plans for the Rockaway Lateral Project actually went from placing the facility outside of the park to inside the park. And the decision to place the facility inside the park has nothing at all to do with protecting the park or least impact on the park. It only has to do with money.

The National Parks Conservation Association just did a complete turn around from their stated position in paperwork they filed with FERC which said they would intervene on placing the Metering and Regulating Station in historic row at Floyd Bennett Field. I guess that's pretty fitting since they've also made a complete turn around from their earlier reports on Floyd Bennett Field which called for removing inappropriate city uses, not introducing new private industrial uses into the field.

Maybe its time for NPCA to rewrite their mission.

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

Margarets Mums This Year

 were more pink than white but no Margaret at the garden this year. She lives though and just a bit of her mums too do also in my garden, but I haven't had the pleasure of seeing her this year. I just have these mums to remind me of those minutes shared with her in the community garden.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Postcards to the President VETO HR2606 from the Farmers Market

"Dear Mr. President, I'm asking you as a citizen to please veto this bill. NY's national parks are something to be respected and protected. Please Protect our natural beauty from corporate interest."

"Dear Mr. President, Please preserve our recreation area that is so hard to come by in our great city".

"Gateway National Recreation Area is used by new yorkers for swimming, gardening camping and cyclists. Please do not put industrial facilities in our park! It is the most beautiful place in NYC. Leave it natural."

Dear President Obama, Please veto HR2606. I do not want industrial facilities in my national park. NYC and its surrounding areas need as much unpolluted green space as we can get."

"The beach is my summer paradise. Please protect it and the surrounding wildlife. There has to be a better solution."

"Dear Mr. President, We would like to urge you to stop corporate interests from taking over what precious little national park land we have left in NYC".

Prospect Park may not be around the corner from Gateway, but the people who shop at the farmers market there or who use that park are also familiar with the Jamaica Bay Unit. And while the National Park Service and our legislators in Washington and our state Senator who lives near Prospect Park even don't think the citizens of New York City have a role to play in protecting our parks, the people actually say otherwise. Providing that the House passes this bill again with amendments and considering that they saw fit to pass it the first time without any public notice, there is only one place left to go to stop this undemocratic bill. Pennsylvania Avenue.

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, October 17, 2012

More News on Rockaway Pipeline and More Paperwork in FERC

                 Gas pipeline infrastructure coming soon to the National Park near me..
This week saw an article in the Gotham Gazette about the complexity of the Rockaway Lateral Project along with the accompanying National Grid Brooklyn Queens Interconnect. Myself I've long felt that I needed another degree or two, as well as unlimited amounts of time to properly read all the documents in FERC that are available on the project in order to just get some sense of not only what the potential impact might be on the area, but simply to understand who wants to build what, where and when. As ever, it continues to boggle my mind that the legislation that was necessary to authorize the project occuring in Gateway National Recreation Area has already been passed in both Houses of Congress. Quite frankly it seems impossible that any legislator could be following the paperwork trail through FERC and at the same time maintain their other responsibilities and I'm still stunned that neither those legislators nor the National Park Service thinks that the public deserves any role at all in deciding what happens to or in our park.
Just in time for the yearlong celebration of Gateway's birthday (40 years),  according to the Atlantic Highland Herald, the bill that will authorize a pipeline through the beach and what equates to the sale of historic resources at Floyd Bennett Field to natural gas companies for their metering and regulating facility has passed.  Meanshile, PCB's from a recent spill by one of those companies make their way into Jamaica Bay and there's more paperwork to read in the FERC elibrary on the project (PF09-8).  Looks like I'm definitely going to need glasses and a higher tolerance for the spin of the people in power if I'm going to keep following the developments in this project. 
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, October 15, 2012

It's Just A Little Thing at The Coffee Shop Around the Corner

Not a raisin dried in the sun, but a reminder of last year's dream deferred. Still it's important to dream and to work slowly towards something. I haven't been thinking about growing flowers a lot lately, but it's really hard not to think about bulbs this time of year. To begin the dream for a new season.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

VETO HR 2606 Postcards to the President (Some More)

 More postcards with messages from citizens on the back and with the Protect Your Parks vintage WPA poster on the front. But if you don't have a pretty postcard, the president can also be reached here.

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

What Happens When Top Down Decisions Are Made

The people on the bottom get screwed. In the case of HR2606 and natural gas pipeline facilities and infrastructure in Gateway National Recreation Area, it's actually a heck of a lot of people on the bottom getting the screws put to them and not so many people on top making decisions for all with no consultation.

How high up was the testimony in support of HR 2606 given in Congress while the public remained in the dark about a pipeline right of way and a very special use permit for industrial infrastructure in their park? Well the two people who testified in support of the bill in Congress, Dr. Herbert Frost and Dr. Stephanie Toothman aren't your average rangers. What does that mean do you think the chances are that other inappropriate uses for badly managed historic resources in the National Park Service might fall victim to industrial or corporate takeover?

Fellow gardener Barbara's VETO HR 2606 petition nails it on the head. HR2606 has national significance. And if the bill can be passed and put into action all the while Mayor Bloomberg and Secretary of the Interior boast about the great things they are doing for Gateway and Floyd Bennett Field it's just twice as much an example of that topdown run around.

Some overly ambitious plans were made for Floyd Bennett Field and recommended by a Blue Ribbon Task Force put together for the purpose of planning a bright future for the park and none of the very important people who worked on it have come out defending the park from industrial takeover by natural gas companies. So far the Mayor and Secretary of Interior's only concrete plans for improving Gateway and promoting it and Floyd Bennett Field as an example of a great urban park that supprosedly supports the Obama administration's Great Outdoor Iniative is running a high pressure gas pipeline through it and allowing industrial facilities to be built in historic hangars.

The president's iniative calls for community-driven solutions, not for decisions made from the top down without the public's input or consent. Everyone thinks this is a story about gas, but its not. It's the story about what democracy passes for today. And I can't wait to see the signage that NPS comes up with for it. It's historic legislation after all.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

JibberJabber, HR2606 and a Great Urban Park

Let's play the game of: Is it a National Park or an Industrial Park? For the photo above, B is the correct answer. An industrial park. Pat yourself on the back if you got the answer correct but don't feel so bad if you didn't.

Now let's take what the people in power made public during the time that HR 2606, legislation that authorizes industrial infrastructure, a metering and regulating facility to be housed in historic hangars and Floyd Bennett Field, was getting ready to be introduced and decided on and see if what was presented to the public by politicians and the National Park Service was real talk or jibberjabber?

1. "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 Charles Schumer. - June 2011.

2,"The President is spotlighting great urban national parks," Salazar said, "and there is no better place to talk about that than in New York City." Feb 17, 2011 as Salazar and Bloomberg annouce a new Urban park initiative, with NPS Director Jon Jarvis by their side

3. "New Yorkers feel a strong sense of pride for our parks…," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We're home to over 29,000 acres of parkland. Parks represent an oasis in the city and even in tough economic times, we recognize how important they are." Feb 17, 2011

I'm going with jibberjabber.

It's the same kind of jibberjabber that Senator Schumer's office gave out this week when it said that HR2606 only authorizes the Dept of Interior to engage in negotiations about the leasing of airplane hangars in Floyd Bennett Field. And here I thought it was a bill about allowing natural gas pipeline facilities in the park just because that's what the bill's language says. Silly me. Good thing there are leaders to set me straight.

Floyd Bennett Field: This area includes the upland and shoreline of the civil aviation facility that was largely created by the filling of salt marsh islands in the bay. The airfield was decommissioned in 1950 and became a haven for grassland and open-country birds until the last several decades when succession of open areas into shrub and developing forest eliminated habitat. In 1985, a portion of Floyd Bennett Field was restored to grassland and now about 57 hectares (140 acres) are maintained through clearing, mowing, and burning. This is one of the few sizable grasslands within the urban core of New York City; it supports a variety of grassland birds, several of which are rare and/or declining in the northeastern United States. Grassland birds confirmed nesting in or near the grasslands in recent years include grasshopper sparrow, horned lark (Eremophila alpestris), eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna), upland sandpiper, savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), northern harrier, American kestrel, and common barn-owl. Use of this area by grasshopper sparrow increased significantly in average abundance and shifted their distribution into the grassland management area between 1984 and 1992. In 1996 there were no grasshopper sparrows nesting at Floyd Bennett Field, but there were 22 pairs of savannah sparrow. Overwintering grassland birds at Floyd Bennett Field include northern harrier, rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus), American kestrel, common barn-owl, short-eared owl, horned lark, eastern meadowlark, and savannah sparrow. Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) is a regular migrant visitor in the grasslands. Grassland birds, especially upland sandpiper, also utilize the grassland habitat along the runways at John F. Kennedy Airport. In recent years, there have also been two nesting locations for American oystercatcher along the northeast shoreline of Floyd Bennett Field. The rare Schweinitz's flatsedge is found in the southern and northern portions of the area, and willow oak saplings occur in the bayberry thickets at the northern end of this site.(This isn't the most current info, but still. The field is most definitely not a wasteland.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Time Line on HR 2606 and the Rockaway Pipeline Project

Pipeline infrastructure. Now guess where I took the picture? A national park or an industrial park?

There's more than one timeline I could follow on the path of HR 2606 and the Rockaway Lateral Project through Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn and Queens, but the one that's missing in the press is the one that connects Gateways enabling legislation with the legislation just passed in the senate that flies in the face of the parks mission. The story and timeline of how the National park Service decided to solve a maintenance backlog problem by supporting and testifiying in favor of legislation that would let the natural gas industry fix up historic structures only to house a natural gas metering and regulating facility in them. One thing that wouldn't be found on this trail, very importantly, is the public's participation in it. NPS left the public and park advocates in the dark and out of the process despite having a clear policy on civic engagement for management decisions.

Gateway is celebrating birthday soon (happy 40th) and in a few years so will the National Park Service itself (centennial).

"On October 27, 1972, Congress passed legislation that created a new kind of national park. The park would have natural, historic, and recreational treasures that one would expect to find in a national park, but what made this place different, was its location. Unlike most large national parks, which were located in rural, and remote areas, this was located in and around the nation’s largest urban area. The idea was to bring the parks to the people, and the result was Gateway National Recreation Area. From: Gateway National Recreation Area Newsletter

History is always being made.

(I took the first picture in an industrial park. But just in time for the National Park's big birthday, I could probably take it in Floyd Bennett Field.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

VETO HR2606 Letter to Obama

A postcard from a park user.

Joe's letter writing campaign takes another form in postcards directly to Obama. Already there are over a hundred. There's a petition to Obama to veto HR 2606 on the White House We the People website written by another gardener as well. When you are getting run over by the people in power, you take your shot in the dark. What else is there to do?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Brooklyn Grown for 596Acres

 The kids over at 596Acres had their first benefit event and we had a little fun making some small bouquets to add a little color to their tables. I hope they made some dough.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Up In The SkyLine as The Season Gives Way

 What I've found this year is that the green roofs aren't so unlike any other garden in that there is the enjoyment of the subtle shifts from day to day or week to week and the slow slipping between the seasons.

It's autumn up in the sky, or on the living roofs as Brooklyn Botonic calls them quite aptly and autumn is always a good time to pay attention to plants wherever you find them.