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The Jamaica Bay area has a number of public works named for notable New Yorkers who merit our remembrance. There is the bridge named for former U.S. Rep. Joseph Addabbo Sr., the Marine Parkway Bridge named for New York Mets and Brooklyn Dodgers hero Gil Hodges and Floyd Bennett Field, which honors the famous Brooklyn aviator. And, of course, there is John F. Kennedy International Airport.
But there is a long-standing major omission in recognizing someone who has helped to change Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways for the better, and we urge that this be corrected.
The individual we are writing about is former U.S. Sen. James L. Buckley.
Buckley was a co-sponsor of S. 1192, creating the Gateway National Recreation Area. The senator spoke on behalf of the bill on the Senate floor Oct. 14, 1972, and specifically mentioned the “wildlife preserve in Jamaica Bay” during the floor debate.
Jamaica Bay is the only wildlife refuge within the U.S. National Parks System. We propose renaming the area the “James L. Buckley-Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.”
The bay and its wetlands, marshes and islands also represent “one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeast United States,” according to the refuge’s website. Buckley continues his love and observation of birds at age 89.
As a Senate candidate in 1970, Buckley questioned the wisdom of a proposed extension of an airport runway into Jamaica Bay, supporting local community groups. Although Buckley was known for conservative views on most issues, many liberals and Democrats acknowledged his expertise in and support for environmental issues.
Buckley is the only living American to have served at the top levels of all three branches of the U.S. government. Aside from his election to the Senate, Buckley was under-secretary of state, after which he served as president of Radio Free Europe. He was then nominated by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the second-highest court in our judicial system.
Consider that New York’s former senators have had major public works or other facilities named for them:
1. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has the Manhattan federal office building named for him, with the new Penn Station to be called “Moynihan Station.”
2. Jacob K. Javits has the other immense federal building named for him, along with the city’s primary convention center.
3. Alphonse D’Amato has the federal courthouse on Long Island named for him.
4. The federal building in upstate Rochester is named for Kenneth Keating.
5. There are a number of schools bearing the name of Robert F. Kennedy, along with the recent renaming of the Triborough Bridge.
Clearly, it is time to honor and recognize the contributions of Buckley to his nation.
Because of Buckley’s advocacy for the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and the Gateway National Recreation Area, this would be an ideal opportunity to recognize Buckley by renaming the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for him.
Community Board 14
City Department for the Aging
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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