The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

September 28, 2018
Contact: Terence Cullen

Astoria, N.Y. — Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, was joined by Council Members Eric Ulrich, I. Daneek Miller, Adrienne Adams, Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato, community leaders, and advocates in support of a recently-passed legislative package to restore Jamaica Bay as well as the communities that surround this national treasure.

“While the road to a healthier Jamaica Bay is still long, we now have a roadmap for protecting the health of Queens’ crown jewel along with the communities that live around it,” said Council Member Constantinides. “We can end Climate Week with a big win in the fight against rising sea levels, pollution, and extreme weather. I want to thank Council Members Richards, Miller, Adams, and Urich for their partnership on these bills, and to Speaker Corey Johnson for his leadership in moving them through.”

Constantinides was joined at the Crossbay Kiteboard Launch area in Broad Channel by his Council colleagues; Assembly Member Pheffer Amato; Manuel Silva, Chief of Staff to Council Member Donovan Richards; Dan Mundy Sr. and Jr.; Manny Caughman, representing Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman; and Archie Spigner.

“For more than a generation, the communities of Southeast Queens suffered flooded homes, street ponding and sewage backups with little to no intervention from our City government,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “The legislation we’re heralding the passage of supplements the progress made over the last few years through the Administration’s near $2 billion commitment to flood mitigation in the region by implementing a series of proactive measures that will direct the City to anticipate future floods, fortify prone neighborhoods, harness the energy of excess water, and protect the integrity of Jamaica Bay. I thank Council Member Constantinides for his thoughtfulness in working with us to craft and champion this impactful legislation.”

“I am proud to support these bills, which will protect Jamaica Bay’s ecosystem and ensure that visitors can enjoy this local treasure for years to come. I’d like to thank my colleagues – Council Members Constantinides, Richards, Miller and Adams – for recognizing the importance of restoring the Bay and moving this important legislation forward,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich, District 32.

“I want to thank the City Council, especially Councilman Constantinides, for working to pass this comprehensive legislative package focusing on protecting our very own ecological jewel, Jamaica Bay,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel) said. “Investing, protecting, and preserving our environment must be a top priority not only now but for generations to come. These safeguards seek to ensure that.”

“Jamaica Bay is home to thousands of species of birds, fish and marine life and is one of the greatest natural resources in the Northeast,” said Dan Mundy. “It is without a doubt the most important urban park in the National Parks System and this legislation will help us to preserve and protect it and ensure that future generations can enjoy it. I commend Councilman Constantinides and Councilman Ulrich for authoring this legislation and look forward to working with them and this task force to address outstanding issues affecting the water quality and habitat of this critical estuary.”

“On behalf of Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, I’d like to thank Council Member Constantinides for this great legislation to help clean up Jamaica Bay and to relieve some of the groundwater problems in southeast Queens,” said Manny Caughman. “I don’t think the City Council could have a better leader for the Environmental Committee than Council Member Constantinides.”

The legislative package — Intros. 628, 749, and 750 — create a roadmap for the future of Jamaica Bay’s health, protect flood-prone areas of southern Queens and Brooklyn, and address growing issues with groundwater seeping into basements. Their unanimous passage Wednesday reflects a greater effort to make New York City’s coastal areas more resilient against future storms exacerbated by climate change.

Intro. 750 will reconvene the New York City Jamaica Bay Task Force five years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg shut it down. Though they operated unofficially since 2013, the various stakeholders — including residents, environmentalists, as well as city, state, and federal officials — will be recognized to have a clear mandate on restoring and maintaining Jamaica Bay. Such work is crucial as rising tides, chemicals from JFK International Airport, and sewage poured into this crown jewel chip away at its vital marshlands.

Intro. 749 directs New York City to examine facilities across southeast Queens on whether groundwater flooding their basements can be used for cooling and heating through geothermal exchange technology. Rising groundwater plates have sent more water into basements for York College, Junior High School 8, and other buildings, which means constantly pumping it out — and driving up costs. The City’s study will determine whether geothermal is a better alternative to boilers that burn dirty fossil fuels and end the constant, costly water pumping.

Intro. 628 affects the estimated 500,000 New Yorkers who live in coastal areas, and will particularly benefit residents of southeast Brooklyn and Queens. Recognizing the violent weather and sea level rise that continue to menace the region, the City is now required to study what areas are at risk of flooding. New York must then come up with mitigation plans related to these flood-prone areas. The City will also re-evaluate this every four years, because the speed of climate change requires up-to-date data.

Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst. He serves as chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on four additional committees: Parks, Transportation, For-Hire Vehicles, and Land Use, as well as the sub-committee on Zoning and Franchises.