Staten Islanders know that the borough is a unique hybrid of urban amenities plus natural resources and wildlife. The Graniteville area is one of the best examples of this; it’s a great city neighborhood straddling the Graniteville Wetlands and Forest. During Superstorm Sandy, those wetlands and trees were all that stood between neighborhood homes and devastating destruction.
After more than a year of community opposition to a commercial development planned for a site next to a wetland area in Mariners Harbor, the biggest obstacle the developers now face may be in the form of a reptile. It’s believed that the eastern mud turtle, which is on the New York State list of endangered species, may reside in the area behind United Cerebral Palsy at 2324 Forest Ave.
Gabriella Velardi-Ward, co-ordinator of the Staten Island Coalition for Wetlands and Forests (CWF), explains what’s happening in their battle to save the 18 acre portion of the Graniteville Wetland/Swamp. Using caution tape, the members of CWF join in outlining the vernal pond that is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
Pat Brady brings together Staten Islanders on the topic of “overdevelopment” in the Graniteville Wetlands section of Staten Island. In this episode of Environmental Issues from Staten Island’s public access cable TV.
The battle to save this marshland and forest is “not over” or a “done deal” as Mark Blazejeski and Kathy Romanelli of The Friends of Graniteville Quarry, Saul Porter of the Coalition for Wetlands and Forests, Tony Rose of the Natural Resources Protective Association, Jack Bolembach of The Protectors of the Pine Oaks and Arthur Siegel, a documentarian/activist, state over and over again.
Writers, researchers, environmentalists, media people, artists, lawyers, (to join committees and interpret documents for everyone) landscape architects, architects, engineers, people handing out flyers and petitioning and those willing to do foot work. If you know someone who might be interested in working with us, in these ways, please invite them to the next meeting, or keep them abreast of what is needed and when it is needed.
Please add your name to the committee where you gifts, experiences and talents lie:
Fund Raising Committee – seeking grants, fundraiser events, donations on the street, donations from businesses…..
Media Committee – Keeping the issue in the public eye at all times, connect with TV stations, newspapers, social media, contact the rich and famous, updating Facebook, our website, incorporating the arts into the movement, etc …..What else? Charlie, Eloise, Barbara Janet
Education Committee – An meeting for the communities to educate them about the seriousness of the issues, financial, educational. Format a panel of experts on various issues and a Q&A…What else? Gabriella, Eloise
Research Committee -How to demand a new Draft Environmental Impact Statement, post Sandy. The one submitted is very flawed. See the NY/NJ Baywatch group statement to City Planners. Who is the owner of this property, does the developer need to go through ULURP and if yes, how far along are they, what permits do they have at the Department of Buildings, other resistance movements, those that succeeded and those that did not and the reasons why, FOIA requests, find out the developers timeline, is Article 78 useful/applicable to us? Can we pursue Eminent Domain?…….. Janet
Environmental Committee – articles, letters to the editor, educational forums concerning Climate Change where we are now and what to expect in the future, the extinction of species because of the loss of habitat. Gabriella, Eloise
Outreach Committee – to groups and organizations inside and outside NYC. Make connections, network, how can they help us, how can we help them, outreach to non-English speaking groups, to the people living in the trailer park, to local businesses, to churches, social groups, unions, to celebrities….. Janet
Financial analysis committee – what will this cost people and how do we make it expensive for the developer. Cost of losing small businesses, cost to Condo Associations…..What else
Political Committee – attend the debates and other public forums, prepare pertinent questions, letter writing to politicians, arrange meetings, keep abreast of Community Board meetings, City Planning meetings etc…
Leg work committee – Handing out fliers, collecting donations on the street, petitioning, tabling at events, finding space for meetings….. What else? Diana Ramos (Flyers and copies free), Pearl
Legal Committee- what laws can we invoke to stop this and/or delay the progress of the developer, research court cases, lawsuit from residents claiming a financial burden.
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.
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
Web: SICWF.org | e-mail: SICWF2017@gmail.com
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
What good is BJ Wholesale on South Avenue,when Graniteville homes are flooded? It’s 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 KHouston@BJs.com 774-512-5086 TWITTER: @BJsWholesale #NoBJinWetlands
3. Donate to help. Visit sicwf.org and donate to our gofundme campaign.
Whose park is this? It’s YOURS and MINE and EVERYONES! One of the many activities that the Natural Resources Protective Association (NRPA) does its cleaning-up at natural areas, such as in the much neglected park area of the Graniteville wetlands and forest in Staten Island. This video follows Jim Scarcella, president of NRPA, and his fellow volunteers as they do the clean-up work and explain what and why they are doing this and what they hope to achieve.
NRPA will be doing more such clean-ups at Staten Island’s beaches, waterfronts, parks and other neglected natural areas throughout this year as they have in past years of Staten Island’s harbor estuaries.