Working with elected officials, public and private partners, and the National Parks Service, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) and The City University of New York Science and Resilience Institute Jamaica Bay (SRIJB) convened a community planning event to gather input on future plans for Floyd Bennett Field (FBF) on Thursday, April 20that the Brooklyn College Student Center, 2705 Campus Road.
An overview of the history and ideas generated since 2020 to transform the 1,300 acres of national park surrounded by Jamaica Bay was shared the previous evening at a Community Board 18 meeting (see “A New Vision for Floyd Bennett Field,” Canarsie Courier, April 27, 2023).
“The vision is to reactivate Floyd Bennett Field as an innovation hub once again, sort of a nod to its prior history and really as an accelerator, as a hub for community and climate resilience,” JBRPC Executive Director Terri Carta said.
Community outreach efforts are being made on an ongoing basis with a focus that evening on community feedback regarding the reactivation of Hangars 3 and 4, the last of eight historic hangars that made aviation history, and building 26, a former sheet metal shop that will serve as the Urban Futures Hub, a field station for the SRIJB and its interdisciplinary research, education and public engagement activities.
Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, whose District 46 encompasses Jamaica Bay, was one of the event organizers with JBRPC, SRIJB, and Assemblywoman Jaime Williams and State Senator Roxanne Persaud who were unable to attend because of budget work in Albany.
“Most important is to address the inequities in what we are doing,” Narcisse said. “Last night, at Community Board 18, we talked about the importance of not just creating the state of the arts, but addressing job opportunities, which is very important to me.”
After a slideshow presentation, four breakout groups met around topics generated by previous discussions: Group 1, Environmental Education and Action, led by SRIJB Director Brett Branco; Group 2, Workforce Training and Job Development, led by JBRPC Assistant Director Elizabeth Stoehr; Group 3, Arts and Culture, led by SRIJB affiliated Brooklyn College faculty Ken Gould; Group 4, Park Amenities, led by JBRPC Partnership Planner Scott Middleton.
Everyone had 15 minutes at their assigned group and time to rotate through all the topics. After reconvening, many of the responses aligned with previously collected responses from stakeholders to create innovative uses for FBF to expand and better serve the community and future generations in preparation for the urban and environmental challenges ahead, but there was also an added focus on recreation.
Many of the suggestions added to the existing activities in place by the many organizations on site. Previous suggestions included the addition of food stalls, recreation equipment rentals, a microbrewery or winery, temporary exhibitions, job fairs, community events or performances, floating classrooms, underwater robotics and more.
New themes and ideas emerged about vocational learning in different capacities, environmental stewardship, hands-on biodiversity, safety and environmental health education. Workforce development included training in green trades that are site specific – not just for post college, but for those transitioning from fossil fuel to carbon neutral jobs.
Arts and culture had a focus on nondigital outdoor fun such as camping, sing-alongs, acoustic music, games like horseshoes and bocce, historical displays, indigenous people events and public art with nature-based artists.
Woodcarving, yoga and meditation, model trains, playhouse or theatre, balloon festival, aviation restoration, bike-etching station, air show, as well as indoor archery, axe-throwing, pickleball, roller skating, rollerblading, swimming and water sports in a community pool, and equipment rentals for bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, scooters, and small craft for sailing and fishing were also suggested.
New amenities would include a water launch, community center or multipurpose spaces; showers; movie theater; hangar rooftop observatory; skate park; baseball field; dog park; hang gliding, zip line or rope course; drone instruction; museum; nature center; public camping ground; better signage and lighting; shuttle service; gift shop; and more comfort stations. Vendors would supply safe instruction in rentals and activities. Also desired were healthy and sustainable no-waste food and beverage amenities utilizing composting.
Community members are invited to learn more and submit their ideas at jbrpc.org/future.