Four Sparrow Marsh Threatened

Four Sparrow Marsh

by M. Feller

On February 8, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) presented its scaled-back plan for development at the Mill Basin property adjacent to Four-Sparrow Marsh to the Brooklyn Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) meeting. The project as proposed to Community Board 18 in January and again at the Brooklyn ULURP meeting includes only the existing Toys R Us and a new car dealership that would occupy much of the existing parking lot. The new proposal would include a parking easement on the adjacent undeveloped property. NYC Audubon executive director Glenn Phillips testified at the ULURP meeting in support of re-zoning to allow the project to go forward as planned, as long as the remaining undeveloped property was transferred to the Parks Department and re-mapped as parkland, along with re-mapping Four Sparrow Marsh itself (That property has already been transferred to the Parks Department). Community Board 18 has already made similar recommendations. Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, seemed supportive of the Community Board and NYC Audubon. Borough President Markowitz questioned representatives from the EDC about their willingness to address the concerns of the community board. From here, the proposal will go to the Planning Commission and then to the City Council. In the coming months NYC Audubon will be calling for your help make sure that your City Council Member knows where you stand on this project.  

It is looking very possible that the remaining undeveloped uplands may become park. With your help we can protect this important buffer for Four Sparrow Marsh and ensure that the marsh itself remains protected.

Four Sparrow Marsh

by R. Bourque

A scoping meeting*** was held in Brooklyn on February 17, 2011. Dozens of environmentalists, local businesspeople, and others spoke against the project. Susan Elbin, PhD, New York City Audubon’s director of conservation, emphasized to the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the lead developer, that the proposed retail center will:

* Disrupt nesting, foraging and stopover habitat of saltmarsh, seaside, swamp and savannah sparrow, as well as willet, Wilson’s snipe, clapper rail, snowy egret and American black duck

* Present a threat of toxic contamination in run-off from paved surfaces to the saltmarsh

* Increase risk of bird collisions with glass in new buildings.

Saltmarsh Sparrow

by D. Speiser

Savannah Sparrow

by D. Speiser

The marsh was named because it is home to nesting populations of threatened saltmarsh sparrow, along with song, swamp and savannah sparrow. Over sixteen bird species breed in the marsh. In addition, the marsh is home to clapper rail and Wilson's snipe and provides important foraging habitat for herons, egrets and many other species. (Note: Four Sparrow Marsh was named by past NYC Audubon president and current conservation committee member and Brooklyn resident Ronald V. Bourque.)

Song Sparrow

by D. Speiser

Swamp Sparrow

by D. Speiser

More Information
Click here to read NYC Audubon's statement at the scoping meeting of 2/17/11.

Click here for more details from the NYC Economic Development Corporation.

Click here to read about the Four Sparrow Marsh recommendations from the seminal 1987 "Buffer the Bay" report produced by NYC Audubon and the Trust for Public Land.

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 ***The purpose of the scoping process is to determine the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to ensure that issues are identified early and properly studied. The end result of scoping is to ensure that the draft EIS produced for public review and comment is thorough and balanced. The scoping process should identify concerns of both the agencies and the affected public and should clearly define the environmental issues and alternatives to be examined in the EIS. If there are important environmental or social impacts that the public wants considered, the time to raise these issues is at the scoping meeting. If there are alternatives to be considered, the scoping meeting is the place to ask that they be analyzed. If there are concepts for minimizing environmental harm that the public would like to see evaluated, these alternatives should be raised at the scoping meeting. In this way, the EIS can be structured to better address public and agency concerns and help lead to better decisions in the end.

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