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Wetlands to Stay 'Forever Wild' Under Parks Department Ownership

By Katie Honan | August 25, 2016 10:27am
 The empty plots of land will stay under the Parks Department to block any development.
The empty plots of land will stay under the Parks Department to block any development.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

BROAD CHANNEL — Five lots between West 19th and West 16th roads that have been empty since the community was first developed will remain that way after being transferred to the Parks Department.

The city-owned stretches of wetlands, dotted among homes next to Jamaica Bay, were officially transferred over as parks on Aug. 12, officials said. 

They were originally one of thousands of empty lots owned by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services — and had been put on the auction block twice for developers to buy and eventually build housing.

But local activists saw the benefit in keeping them empty, for both aesthetic and environmental purposes.

"Here's a benefit: they sequester carbon," said Dan Mundy, Jr., a neighborhood advocate. 

He and his father, Dan Mundy, Sr., have been fighting further wetland erosion throughout Jamaica Bay — and saving even a handful of these small lots can help, he said.

"Now, once they go to Parks, they can be forever wild and we'll be able to walk down here and enjoy the view," he said. "You can see egrets eating in here, blue herrings, really amazing when you just walk down."

Neighbors had already been maintaining the space, cleaning out the garbage and debris that collected there.

Volunteers from the American Littoral Society have also helped clean up the land, and the city paid for the removal of more than a dozen abandoned boats.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who was involved in the land transfer, said the reclaiming of land is a great example for other neighborhoods throughout the city.

"The community was coming from a very sincere place, they were willing to get out there and maintain it," he said.  "They didn't want anything, they just wanted to protect it for the next generation."