Today’s news:

Gateway Reaching Out to Public for Suggestions on Canarsie Pier

Canarsiens who want to share their thoughts about Canarsie Pier with the powers-that-be can send their suggestions to the National Park Service in an email.

The federal agency is soliciting ideas for the pier’s use, as well as for other aspects of the Gateway National Recreation Area, as part of the recreation area’s new General Management Plan, something which is undertaken once every 30 years, and which is expected to take between three and five years to complete.

The point of the General Management Plan is to “Reevaluate our priorities and purpose, and we do that with lots of public input,” explained John Daskalaskis, who is in charge of organizing events for the Jamaica Bay Unit. Daskalaskis spoke about the pier and the reorganization during the November meeting of the United Canarsie South Civic Association (UCSCA), which was held at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue.

With a series of public meetings about Gateway’s future recently completed, Gateway is poised to reach out to civic groups throughout the area, said Rita Mullally, the district ranger, who explained that the next step is to have a give and take with “stakeholders.

“We realize how important the open space on Canarsie Pier is,” she told the group.

With respect to what people want to see at the pier, “This is a chance to get your two cents in,” Daskalaskis stressed.

One purpose of the reorganization, said Daskalaskis, is to cut costs while retaining the programs and services that visitors to Gateway benefit from. A key, he noted, is to make sure, “In a few years, we don’t run out of money paying salaries. We will keep doing things that work well and serve the people who come out to the park,” he assured his listeners.

Among popular programs at the pier that Gateway plans to continue are the new kayaking program, which drew about 900 people this past summer, as well as the fishing and kite-flying programs, Daskalaskis said. In addition, the recreation area plans to continue its warm weather concert series, which attracted hundreds of listeners, this year, Daskalaskis said.

Other efforts will go into maintaining the pier, keeping the bathrooms clean and the lights functioning, he said.

What will happen in the vacant restaurant structure is still anyone’s guess, Daskalaskis acknowledged. While there has been pressure on Gateway in recent years to implement a new concession at the pier, the building is in need of a great deal of repair, he said, noting, “We’re talking millions of dollars.” In addition, no one seems quite sure what would work at the site, Daskalaskis stressed, adding that area residents could make suggestions.

“We encourage you to do that. If you don’t say it, they won’t know it,” Daskalaskis emphasized.

Among the ideas that were voiced by UCSCA members were a bait and tackle shop and a restaurant which served light food such as sandwiches.

Visit Gateway’s website, www.nps.gov/gate, to join Gateway’s email list, and make suggestions or comments.

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