Creek Access, Open Space & Tours
The health of the communities surrounding the Creek is compromised by the lack of open space. On average in New York City 26% of the land is reserved as open space. Brooklyn Community District 1, ranks well below the city average with a meager 4.3% of the land dedicated to open space. Only 14% of the land in Queens Community District 2 is reserved as open space and although Queens Community District 5 ranks substantially higher at 35%, the bulk of that space is occupied by cemeteries. Deprived of quality open space and recreational facilities, many residents and workers make do with poor, even dangerous, access to the Creek, lounging on precarious bulkheads and trash-strewn street ends. The Creek is too polluted for safe swimming or fishing, but in the summer kids have been spotted taking a dip in the Creek and a sizable number of local residents augment their meals with fish and crabs caught in the Creek. If you eat fish from local waters, please review the DEC health advisories on fish consumption to limit your exposer to potential toxins!
Join our dearly departed friend, Bernard Ente, on a trip up the creek:
Newtown Creek Access Points
NCA endeavors to expand safe access to Newtown Creek and has helped realize several Creek-side open spaces including the Newtown Creek Nature Walk at the end of Paidge Ave. and the Manhattan Ave. kayak launch. Advocacy for these open spaces began through member organizations like Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee and Barge Park Pals. Here is a little history lesson from Laura Hofmann, an NCA board member:
The ideas for the Nature Walk were already in place when I became a member, well over a decade ago. Since that time, NCMC members and liaisons have come and gone. Barge Park Pals learned about the NCMC because of the odors that were coming from the sludge tank, DEP damaging the underground pipes that led to the demolition of our parkhouse, and rumors that the committee was trying to “take over” the park. I was astonished to learn from committee members (such as Barbara Mihelic, Carol Woodward and Tony Snackus ‘deceased’) how close I actually lived to the Creek. I had no idea that I was THAT close. I was also astonished to learn that the park was so close to sewage. Not only did committee members aim to “reveal” the Newtown Creek, as the NCA website uses the word. But the committee was aiming to fling the covers off of the waterway. Committee members were separately working in groups such as the Concerned Citizens of Greenpoint, Greenpoint Video Project & WaterWays & Greenviews, to rid the Greenpoint waterfront of environmental offenders and to punch their way to the shore. Irene Klemontowicz was already a waterfront icon. I viewed her as the ultimate Creek historian and advocate. She either attended or knew about everything that went on regarding the oil spill, the sewage treatment facility, and the Creek in general. I believe that her passion seeded many of these groups.
I remember former NCMC liaison Bob Gormley saying that we needed to “barge our way” to the Newtown Creek shore. And we did. A few events then come to mind. The first was a major cleanup of the Manhattan Ave St. End. The footings of the bridge were still there. There was HUGE debris there as well as along the shore near Allocco. The NCMC members (all wearing other hats) got together and arranged for the DOS to help move the debris. Barbara tossed baby rats into the creek by hand, seagulls swooping down to eat em. What seemed like tree roots were actually strings of rubber tires that we yanked from the ground to make way for some greenery growth. At another major cleanup we were joined by AmeriCorps and the East River Crew, who climbed down to the shore of Whale Creek and removed large debris from vehicles, as well as empty containers of unknown chemicals. They passed huge debris up from the waterfront from one person to another. A human conveyer belt. George Trackus actually built a make shift dock at the Manhattan Ave St. End. with his own hands. He was determined to make the Newtown Creek a viable host for the Nature Walk. At a time when the Creek was at its worst, people literally risked their lives to hold waterfront cleanups and get to the shore. It was done, so DEP could no longer tell us what was or wasn’t possible. The community proved to officials just how much could be done with so little. No excuses. It’s that kind of determination that existed and still exist amongst the NCMC and other NC advocates.
Check out some of Bernie Ente’s photos below of opening day at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk:
The map below details several Newtown Creek Access Points, some safer than others.
To add Creek access points to the map or to add photos, text, and videos to points already marked on the map, follow the instructions below.
1) Register as a participant on HabitatMap
2) Click here to view the Newtown Creek Access Points map on HabitatMap
3) To edit a site that’s included on the map: Click on the marker and then click “Edit Marker”
4) To add a site to the map: First hover your mouse cursor over the map title “Green Infrastructure Planning Map” and click “save to shared maps”. Next click “Add a Marker” , enter the relevant information, check-off “Newtown Creek Access Points” under “Add This Marker to My Maps” and then click “submit”
Newtown Creek Tours
NCA frequently sponsors boating, biking, and walking tours of Newtown Creek. To view pictures from previous tours visit the image galleries. Past tours have collaborated with Time’s Up, the Working Harbor Committee, and the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission.
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