The Community Leaders Paddle, hosted by the advocacy group Guardians of Flushing Bay (GoFB), gathered more than two dozen people, including local elected officials, city agency representatives and community organizations, at Pier 1 of the World’s Fair Marina.
Rebecca Pryor, program coordinator for GoFB and Riverkeeper, said not only did the event bring new people down to the water, but it also connected the communities that the waterbody touches.
“We hope that the community groups from East Elmhurst are working and mingling with the community groups from College Point and Flushing,” she said, “and working to clean the waterway that connects all of us.”
Pryor said Flushing Bay, and the World’s Fair Marina in particular, is usually “blocked off” for people who want to access the waterfront. One of the ways to get on the water, she said, is by participating in dragon boating, which thousands of people experience every year.
She said it’s important to create any opportunity to get people on the water to experience the “beauty of the bay.”
“We think that leads to transformative change,” she said.
Among the event’s attendees were Queens Parks Commissioner Michael Dockett, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Administrator Janice Melnick and State Senator John Liu.
Another was Councilman Costa Constantinides, who chairs the Committee on Environmental Protection. The Astoria pol said he attended to observe the beauty of the waterway, as well as think further about ways to improve water quality in the area.
“I’ve never done it before,” he said about boating on Flushing Bay, “so I’m looking forward to taking it from the abstract into the real.”
In July, Constantinides hosted a town hall discussion about the long-term future of Flushing Bay and Flushing Creek. The councilman introduced legislation earlier in the year to require more oversight of the city’s Long Term Control Plans that deal with the city’s sewage.
The bill would also force the city to develop a five-borough resiliency plan.
Constantinides has been an advocate of building a new wastewater treatment plant on Rikers Island when the jail closes in the coming years.
He said the paddle event was another opportunity to continue the conversation about making the Flushing waterways more swimmable, fishable and accessible.
“To be out on the water with these great volunteers is a way to do that in a different venue than I’ve ever done,” he said.