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Bike and boat stations planned for Jamaica Bay

A city Parks Department map shows the placement of kayak and bike stations in and around Jamaica Bay. Map courtesy Parks Department
TimesLedger Newspapers

Another wave of revitalization is coming to the Rockaways as the city and federal government seek proposals to install new amenities for visitors and residents of the seaside land.

The city Parks Department joined the National Parks Service to announce that three requests for proposals have been issued this week for the installation, operation and maintenance of kayak and canoe rental stations, bike rental stations and mobile food units on city and federal land throughout Jamaica Bay, the Rockaway Peninsula and the Gateway National Recreation Area.

“Millions of people visit the Rockaway beaches each summer and we’re seeking concessions that will allow both visitors and locals to further explore the natural beauty of the Jamaica Bay region,” said city Parks Commissioner Veronica White. “We are hoping to offer opportunities for New Yorkers to bike, eat and paddle, and are looking to receive proposals from companies or individuals with strong backgrounds in delivering these amenities to the public.”

In July, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an agreement between the National Parks Service and Parks dictating that the two agencies will cooperatively manage the 10,000 acres that make up the land in and around Jamaica Bay.

The agencies pledged to promote visitation, education programs, scientific research and opportunities for outdoor recreation, and officials said these RFPs are a joint venture between the agencies to offer educational and recreational opportunities.

“Expanded opportunities for biking, canoeing and kayaking are great ways to help everyone experience America’s great outdoors and the wonders to be found around Jamaica Bay,” said Linda Canzanelli, superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area. “We are excited about this opportunity to partner with the city to expand visitor services at our beaches through the wonderful food found in New York City’s mobile food trucks.”

Community Board 14 Chairwoman Dolores Orr said the Parks Department presented the board with rough plans for kayak launching bays and bike rental stations in Rockaway, along with concession stands throughout Gateway National Park.

Orr said the community desperately needs the project and needed it even before Hurricane Sandy hit, as it would bring tourism and revenue to the area.

“We are very much in favor of that in Rockaway,” she said.

The RFPs are available for download through April 8 on the Parks Department website.

All proposals made in response to these RFPs must be submitted no later than April 8 at 3 p.m. and there will be a recommended proposer meeting and site tour March 20 at 10 a.m. Meetings begin in the multipurpose room of Gateway National Recreation Area’s Ryan Visitor Venter at Floyd Bennett Field, which is located at Aviation Road and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

Jamaica Bay is an 18,000-acre wetland estuary surrounded by the Rockaway Peninsula to the south, Brooklyn to the west and Queens to the east. The bay consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands and two freshwater ponds. The wetlands provide a unique environment for both wildlife preservation and urban recreation.

Urban recreation will receive another boost, as U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced that coastal protection at Rockaway Beach is one of four major projects worth more than $1 billion that will receive federal funding for relief.

The Sandy relief bill signed into law last month required the federal government to pick up 65 percent of the project cost, but that amount was increased to make the coast stronger, more resilient and offer better protection against storms.

The Rockaway project will replace and expand beach dunes. The other projects include coastal protection initiatives in Long Beach, Fire Island and Coney Island.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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