A city agency is studying how best to protect wetlands around an east Bronx body of water.
The NYC Parks Department held a public a listening session on Thursday, November 8 to gather community input regarding natural shoreline restoration at Hammond Cove.
The Parks Department’s Natural Resource Group received a $50,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/Long Island Sound Futures Fund to produce designs and drawings aimed at protecting and improving the condition of marsh and wetlands on Parks’ land around the small inlet.
Once designs are developed, there will be a another meeting with the community in February or March, where the plans will be presented, stated a Parks Department spokeswoman.
While the work funded by the grant to develop a plan and file permits is expected to be completed by May 2019, no funding has yet been allocated for the plan’s implementation, according to Parks.
Nevertheless, attendees generally said they believed that the agency was forthright about soliciting community input and having a discussion about protected wetlands areas around Hammond Cove.
Justin Dambinskas, the concessionaire operating Hammond Cove Marina on Parks’ land, said that the agency was looking at two areas on the east and west sides of the cove specifically to take action, including near Longstreet Avenue.
“The Parks Department group that came to the meeting was helpful, informative, and they were asking questions rather than dictating,” said Dambinskas. “They were a very positive group.”
The Parks Department wants to develop ways to improve the water body’s quality, remove invasive weed species like Phragmites, and reduce water erosion especially near wetlands on the west side of the cove.
Dambinskas said he suggested, that in addition to protecting the wetlands, that Parks could consider using berms – small hills covered with plants and grass – to divert runoff into the cove and direct flooding away from it.
Another meeting attendee, Pat Devine of the Locust Point Yacht Club, suggested using elevated embankments to prevent flooding in the cove.
Environmental activist Dotti Poggi, leader of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality’s East Bronx Coastal Working Group, said the wetlands restoration grant was intended to encourage renewed wildlife diversity: allowing small animal life to florish in the wetlands, providing a food source for the area’s birds and fish.
Enhancing and protecting the wetlands will also act as a natural impediment to slow down surging stormwaters, she said.
“(Wetlands) kind of act like a sponge,” Poggi said, adding “Wetlands restoration helps to slow down flooding.”
Poggi said that she believes that the scheduled dredging of the cove, funded by outgoing Senator Jeff Klein and expected to start soon, might provide an opportunity to re-use the dredged material to reinforce the shoreline.
Councilman Mark Gjonaj, who attended the meet and greet, said that he believes that the wetland restoration will create a natural barrier to prevent further storm damage.
Gjonaj also said that he believes a study should be undertaken to encompass the 13th Council District’s entire shoreline – Throggs Neck, Country Club, City Island, Spencer Estate and Pelham Bay Park.