Category Archives: In the News

See Staten Island’s wetlands

Check out this amazing video from the Trust for Public Lands

Flooding and Pollution concerns unites Graniteville Community against Wetlands Destruction

STATEN ISLAND – Over 40 people attended Staten Island Coalition for Wetlands and Forests (SICWF) Community Forum “Flooding and You” on Saturday April 28 at the Mariners Harbor Library.

The goal of the forum was to raise awareness of the the proposed destruction of the Graniteville wetlands and forest on South Avenue in Staten Island and the impact on flood maps and the environment of the surrounding areas.  A BJ’s Wholesale Store is currently planned at the site. 

Speakers included James Scarcella and Tony Rose of National Resources Protective
Association (NRPA) and SICWF leader Gabriella Velardi-Ward. They discussed the history of the site, and what had been done in recent years to help protect it from development, prior to the rezoning to the city to clear the path for the big box store.

“In this age of climate chaos, we need this wetland and forest to protect us.  Scientists are finding that the best resiliency plan against climate change, is not a wall but soft resiliency, that is wetlands, marshes and forests.” stated Velardi Ward.

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During the 2 hour event, participants raised concerns about the high cost of flood insurance for surrounding homeowners and those who live in the adjacent trailer park.  Participants also shared concerns about the impact of pollution from New Jersey plants as well as the highway and airport traffic on this environmental justice community. 

SICWF member Eloise Calderwell stressed the point that there is nothing man-made today that can replace the protection what nature provides to protect from pollution and flooding. 

Attendees were asked to write the Governor Andrew Cuomo to protect the wetlands and help the group meet its 1,000 letter goal, to share information with neighbors, and join the coalition every Saturday on South Avenue from 11am-1pm.  

The next SICWF meeting will be at the Reformed Church of Staten Island 54 Port Richmond Avenue at 7pm. 


For more information contact: 

Contact: Gabriella Velardi  Ward, Coalition for Wetlands and Forests

Phone: 646-515-7402

Web: | e-mail:

The Coalition for Wetlands and Forests (SICWF)consists of members of environmental groups,of residents and surrounding condo associations as well as civic groups that have organized to save the local natural areas that are at risk of development. Organizations include National Resource Protectors Association, North Shore Waterfront Conservancy, Friends of Manresa, Staten Island Preservation League, Sustainable Staten Island, City West Condo Association, Regal Walk Condo Association

Flooding and You Forum on Saturday, April 28

Learn more at our Community Forum

Saturday April 28, 2018  2:30-4:30pm
Mariners Harbor Library  (206 South Avenue)

What good is BJ Wholesale on SOUTH AVE when Graniteville homes are FLOODED?

ITS NOT A DONE DEAL—Here are 3 ways to help:

  1. Call and Write New York State Governor Cuomo
    Ask him protect Graniteville Wetlands and make it part of the Staten Island Blue Belt. 1-518-474-8390
    Andrew M. Cuomo NYS State Capitol Building Albany, NY 12224
  2. Demand BJ’s CEO Christopher Baldwin pull out of Staten Island BJ’s Deal! c/o Kristy Houston
    774-512-5086  TWITTER: @BJsWholesale   #NoBJinWetlands

3. Donate to help . Visit and donate to our gofundme campaign.


Still time to save the Graniteville wetlands and our homes (commentary)

By Ed Szczepanski and Paula Segal

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — If you lived on Staten Island when Hurricane Sandy hit, you will never forget the devastation. Those who lived in Graniteville likely remember feeling relieved that their homes were mostly unscathed, our streets never flooded.

It wasn’t just luck that spared the neighborhood. The Graniteville Swamp and wetlands shielded the community from the horrific storm. Tall trees helped block the winds and absorbed the rising water. Nature protected Graniteville.

But if developers and shortsighted politicians have their way, the wetlands that saved Graniteville will soon be destroyed to make room for a strip mall and big box store and gas station. In a neighborhood that increasingly is being invaded by unchecked and poorly planned development, developers are planning to build a BJ’s store — plowing down the very trees that saved Graniteville from Sandy.

Without the natural buffer of the Graniteville wetlands, homes will be at risk during the next big storm. There is no doubt that waters will rise and flood our community. If, as a result, FEMA redraws the flood plain maps, residents are forced to get flood insurance that currently isn’t required, homes will suddenly be unaffordable for many neighborhood residents.

One condo community, City West, estimates that flood insurance for the common areas and building exteriors would run about $1,000 per unit per year. That would add up to $206,000 and a special one-time assessment charged to residents along with a monthly increase to their condo fees! That’s on top of the cost for unit owners to insure the inside of their homes, which is estimated at $500 for a two-bedroom unit.

It’s not too late to turn things around. While the City Council voted to allow re-mapping of streets and changes in the zoning that are needed to allow the developer to build as proposed, the City Council does not have the final word here. New York state has jurisdiction over the wetlands — not the city.

To build in the wetland, the developer will have to get permits from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). These permits have not been issued — or even applied for. Once the developer applies, there will be a public hearing and the DEC will have the obligation to accept testimony from anyone who offers it and the power to deny the owners permission to pave the wetland.

Together, Staten Islanders can stop the strip mall construction. But we need your help.

We encourage Staten Island residents, especially those on the North Shore, to join us in petitioning the developer to withdraw its plans to build and BJ’s to withdraw its plans to use the buildings. The Coalition to Save Graniteville Wetlands and Forests is organizing weekly events to raise awareness and to pressure the state to stop the BJ’s project. On weekends, some residents are passing out leaflets at the BJ’s in Linden, N.J., where many Staten Islanders shop. BJ’s management has not yet committed to the Graniteville site. The developers are counting on them as tenants. If they pull out, the project should collapse.

The coalition is holding rallies and educational forums to raise awareness. Even if you’re not able to attend an event, you can raise your voice by signing the petition to stop the strip mall.

If you’re thinking that it’s too late, you’re wrong. In fact, now is exactly when we need to join together — before the developers even apply for permits to build in the wetland.

We can pressure the developers who want to rent to BJ’s to withdraw their plans. We can make sure that the state knows we oppose them. We can stand together, armed with the lessons we learned in Superstorm Sandy, to keep our protective wetlands intact.

United, Staten Islanders can beat back the attack on our wetlands — which ultimately threatens our homes and our way of life.

We can save the Graniteville wetlands and adjacent forest — but only if we stand together and demand that our public officials prioritize the needs of our community over the profits of big businesses.

(Ed Szczepanski is president of the City West Condo Association and has lived there for 25 years; Paula Segal is with the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center and represents Staten Island residents fighting to save the Graniteville wetlands)

Documents for review – FOIL for Graniteville




















Group Vows to fight Graniteville BJ Wholesale development on South Avenue

See Saul Porter and Gabriella Velardi Ward with Anthony Pascale on NY1







Graniteville Tree Swamp PowerPoint (Authored By Carl Alderson)

Graniteville Tree Swamp PowerPoint (Authored By Carl Alderson)

Don’t obstruct Graniteville Swamp (letter to the editor)

Don’t obstruct Graniteville Swamp (letter to the editor)

By Beryl A. Thurman

Port Richmond

Re: Proposed development of the Graniteville Swamp in Mariners Harbor into BJ’s & Company retail space.

It is important to know that the Graniteville Swamp is the headwaters of Old Place Creek. Development in the marsh and pine oak-dominated forest will greatly compromise the system’s ability to control neighborhood flooding, and discharge storm water safely out to Old Place Creek.

The loss of the forest and grassy marshes will do maximum harm to the water quality in the creek itself.  It would appear to be an oversight that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NYC Parks have acquired large tracts of land on the lower portions of Old Place for parkland preservation only to have the upper portion of the creek become compromised by development that will ultimately have a cost to the taxpayer.

For years, the Graniteville Swamp has saved the City of New York countless dollars on unnecessary underground piping and plumbing of storm water. Not only does it spare us costly infrastructure, it acts as a filtration pump for the waters that penetrate its leafy forested floor and become cleansed before arriving to the tide waters of the Arthur Kill.

With all that we now understand about the cost savings associated with Bluebelt infrastructure it would seem preposterous, even corrupt, to give the nod to a project that will incur so much unnecessary expense to find new-built ways to deal with flooding and storm water discharge.

(Note: The writer is Executive Director/President of The North Shore Waterfront Conservancy of Staten Island.)

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NY/NJ Baykeepers on Environmental Impact of development at Graniteville Wetlands

NY/NJ Baykeeper would like to take this opportunity to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact
Statement (DEIS) prepared for the proposed South Avenue Retail Development in the Graniteville
neighborhood of Staten Island.  Read Full Letter here


Graniteville Swamp Park

Graniteville Swamp Park on Staten Island

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on Sunday, April 29th, 2012 at 10:08am.

On July 7, 1997, roughly nine acres of land in the neighborhood of Graniteville were assigned to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. This area of land is within the site known as Graniteville Swamp, which is five graniteville_park_swamptimes the size of the acreage assigned to the Parks Department.  On June 1, 2000, another addition was made to what is now known as Graniteville Swamp Park.  This little sliver of land, in addition to the original portion obtained by the Parks Department, account for close to nothing when they are compared to the size of the swamp.

Graniteville Swamp was originally surrounded by Forest Avenue to the north and west, South Avenue to the east, and Goethals Road North to the south. Morrow Street, which juts out of Forest Avenue into the swamp’s vicinity, was not much of a boundary at the time, as the street consisted mostly of small houses.  At the turn of the century, however, the United Artists Stadium 16 movie theater opened between Forest Avenue and Morrow Street, making Morrow Street a northern boundary of the swamp.  Today, the area of land under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is just below Morrow Street.  To the right of the imaginary line which extends from the east of the movie theater down to Goethals Road North, there is a public storage facility.  Aside from these two sections, the area within the stated streets it encompassed mostly by Graniteville Swamp.

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