2015-02-04 / Front Page

Goldfeder: Consider Community Input on MGP Site

As the Jamaica Bay bulkhead at Beach 108th Street is nearing completion and with the final MGP cleanup set to begin, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has asked incoming National Grid President and Executive Director Dean Seavers to review and consider community suggestions for uses of a former manufactured gas plant (MGP) in Rockaway Park and to begin a community dialogue on the future of the site.
As the Jamaica Bay bulkhead at Beach 108th Street is nearing completion and with the final MGP cleanup set to begin, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has asked incoming National Grid President and Executive Director Dean Seavers to review and consider community suggestions for uses of a former manufactured gas plant (MGP) in Rockaway Park and to begin a community dialogue on the future of the site. As the Jamaica Bay bulkhead at Beach 108th Street is nearing completion and with the final manufactured gas plant (MGP) cleanup set to begin, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder has asked incoming National Grid President and Executive Director Dean Seavers to review and consider community suggestions for uses of a former MGP in Rockaway Park and to begin a community dialogue on the future of the site. “Rarely do we have the opportunity to redevelop such a large site with so much potential to revitalize the community. The Rockaway Park MGP site is a ‘blank slate’ on which we can write the future economic development of the Rockaway Peninsula,” said Goldfeder. “I urge National Grid to consider the community’s suggestions for the site as we work together to put an end to the cycle of blight and decay that Rockaway families have endured for too long.” In a letter to Seavers, Goldfeder urged National Grid to review the community survey conducted by the assemblyman last year, which received hundreds of suggestions for commercial and cultural development. Additionally, he requested that National Grid immediately begin to engage the community in a public conversation about developing the former hazardous waste site. Goldfeder wrote that the site provided a great opportunity for commercial development and could create a link between existing commercial corridors along Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach Channel Drive.


Last year, Goldfeder conducted an online community survey to ask residents what they would like to see done with the MGP site. He received hundreds of responses suggesting a variety of uses, from office space, retail stores and parking garages for commuters; to more cultural uses, such as a museum, entertainment arena or educational institute. Goldfeder later delivered the results to National Grid to inform the company’s decisions on the future of the site.


“We appreciate that National Grid made their property available for Rockaway residents to park their vehicles to utilize the ferry service,” said Rockaway Ferry advocate Danny Ruscillo. “Our hope is that when National Grid no longer has a need for this property, they take into consideration the community’s interests, including ferry transportation and parking, when finding the best use for the site.”


The former Rockaway Park Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) occupied the 9-acre lot between Beach Channel Drive and the Rockaway Freeway at Beach 108th Street. From the 1880s until the mid-1950s the site housed gas production and storage facilities operated by the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO). In 1998, the ownership of the site transferred to KeySpan in a merger between LILCO and Brooklyn Union Gas Company.


That same year, the site was added to the State’s Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites (Registry), as a class 2 site. In a 2006 decision, the state Department of Environmental Conservation ordered KeySpan to begin remedial action to remove toxic waste and contaminated ground soil from the site. National Grid took over cleanup efforts at the site when it bought out KeySpan in 2008, although work stalled due to the deteriorating bulkheads which are now almost repaired. Goldfeder has long worked to find productive uses for the former industrial site and surrounding area. Following Superstorm Sandy, Goldfeder secured an agreement from National Grid to allow hundreds of daily Rockaway Ferry commuters to park at the site. The assemblyman has also worked closely with the city Economic Development Corporation to complete repairs to the damaged bulkheads adjacent to the site. For Goldfeder, the future of the MGP lot is part of a larger question about the region’s development post-Sandy. “Our families have seen so much destruction in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,” concluded Goldfeder. “Allowing the community to be a large part of the process in determining the future of the MGP site will send a strong message that the community is not only building back stronger but that our residents have a voice for the future.”


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