ConSERVE NYC Volunteers Continue a Legacy of Service at Floyd Bennett Field
At May’s ConSERVE NYC event, over 50 SCA volunteers took to the beachfront to continue the storm recovery process by removing 1500 pounds of debris from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.
Floyd Bennett Field has been managed by the National Park Service since 1972 as part of Gateway National Recreation Area. Visitors can tour the historic buildings, walk the trails along the waterfront, and even pitch a tent for overnight camping. But before Floyd Bennett became a park, it was New York City’s busiest airport, the site of historic flights by the likes of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. The site’s exposed location on the coastline of Jamaica Bay made it an ideal launch point… but also left it vulnerable to storm surge during Hurricane Sandy.
This weekend, SCA volunteers young and old combed the park’s beaches and trails for tires, mattresses, splintered lumber, and other items left behind by the storm. By the end of the morning, they had carted out 1500 pounds of debris, creating a cleaner shoreline for visitors and wildlife to enjoy on Jamaica Bay.
Howard Jiang, an intern at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, showed his dedication to conserving New York City waters both on and off the job. “I’m in the civil engineering department,” he said, as he pushed back reeds to drag out a sodden foam mattress. “Checking pipes, fixing leaks… it’s all part of our same water system.”
Other volunteers saw the connections too. Heidi Untener, an SCA alum and one of five moms who took time out on Mother’s Day weekend to volunteer at the project alongside her kids, saw it as a learning opportunity. “You look at all the litter that accumulates -– bottles, cans, things people throw away –- and you think how easy it all is to prevent. Don’t drink bottled water, don’t eat packaged lunches… There are so many things you can do!”
Local families were joined by SCA volunteers from across the five boroughs, including students from St. John’s University, Brooklyn Tech, the College of Staten Island, Smith College, Global Kids, Jericho High School, Park East High School, Pelham Memorial High School, Riverdale Country School, William Cullen Bryant High School, PS 8, and IS125.
After a morning of beach cleanup, volunteers were treated to a tour of Hangar B — a historic space that is part air museum, part active workshop. Climbing inside historic planes from the 1930s and ’40s — all refurbished and maintained by volunteers — participants saw another tribute to the importance of service at Floyd Bennett Field. “This work is all going to be passed along to your generation,” declared their guide, a U.S. Veteran who flew with the Air Force during World War II and still works actively on the planes. “Our generation, we go as far as we can go… But at some point we have to stop. And then we hand it over to you folks. Who knows what inconceivable things you’ll be able to do?”
As part of the ConSERVE NYC initiative, SCA hosts public service events each month to engage the conservation community and build resiliency in New York City’s public lands. Stay tuned for details on the next event at www.thesca.org/events.
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