Sunset Cove Officially Opens

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Sunset Cove is officially open and it’s as nice as the name sounds. Offering a new and growing salt marsh that will serve as an ecological and educational haven, an added protective measure from flooding for Broad Channel, and a can’t beat area to catch the sun setting over the bay, with the city skyline or the Marine Parkway Bridge as a backdrop, Sunset Cove is a welcome new addition that will give those in Broad Channel and across the city, a way to escape the hustle and bustle without leaving the five boroughs.

On Tuesday, August 20, the ribbon was officially cut on Sunset Cove Park, a 12.57-acre site nestled near the southern tip of Broad Channel. This new parkland was once the site of an abandoned and derelict marina that became a dumping ground. The area has a new lease on life that will support all walks of life, from birds to fish, and the people that come to appreciate it all.

The opening of Sunset Cove was a longtime in the making. After taking legal action, the city acquired the land in 2008 and ideas were thrown around about its future. A design was finalized in May 2016. Following the design, the project received bids that were nearly double the available budget, effectively stalling progress. In October 2017, Mayor de Blasio allocated $7 million to match an existing $7 million from a Department of Interior – National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant and DEC Mitigation funding, allowing the project to get back on track. Construction began in spring 2018 and was completed in June 2019.

The entire project included the removal of 1,000 cubic yards of debris and nearly 30,000 cubic yards of hazardous and contaminated soil; restoration of 4.5 acres of salt marsh and seven acres of maritime upland; construction of a perimeter berm and walking trail;  installation of 16,000 tons of clean sand; and the planting of 200,000 new plugs to reestablish the salt marsh. On Tuesday, those involved in making the park a reality, such as NYC Parks, the NYSDEC, local elected officials like Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and a representative for Councilman Eric Ulrich, Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, Don Riepe of the Littoral Society, Alex Zablocki of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and countless others, were on hand to celebrate with an official ribbon cutting.

“We’re proud to see the restoration of this property which was formerly a polluted and derelict marina,” NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. “Today, thanks to a lot of hard work, this salt marsh is helping to improve water quality in Jamaica Bay and providing a healthy habitat for wildlife. What’s more, it’s providing additional protection to Broad Channel by reducing wave and wind impacts during any future storms.”

Senator Addabbo called the area “a great escape,” giving all who visit a place to escape the regular hustle and bustle of city life. “In this I see a great escape, and I hope others see that too and come to enjoy it,” he said.

Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting was just a start for what’s to come for Sunset Cove. A second phase of construction for Sunset Cove will build a boardwalk to provide shoreline access over the restored salt marsh, as well as a seasonal dock and oyster garden which will serve as a venue for waterfront educational activities. Construction is planned to begin in 2021.

Mundy, a big advocate for the project, gloated about the first phase completion. “We saw this as an environmental park and when I look at it today, and the work that was done, it far exceeds what we thought we might end up with down here. It’s been a tremendous collaborative effort, Mundy said. “You come down here and it is a way to get away. Probably some of the best sunsets that you’re ever gonna see in your life are down here. In the winter, all the way by the Marine Parkway Bridge and in the summer, all the way over to Manhattan, but it works beyond giving you that respite from life. It works in its functioning capacity as an ecological park.” Mundy also spoke about the education benefits the park will provide for future generations to come.

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