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