Vernon Blvd at Newtown Creek

What does Queens Deserve?

Dear Friends,

Municipal agencies have ignored years of direct communication from stakeholders, including HarborLAB, about how the Newtown Creek end of Vernon Boulevard might be improved when needed reconstruction takes place, Because we’ve reached a point where our silence will allow a wasteful plan to proceed, Newtown Creek Alliance has posted a public petition

I encourage you to read it. There’s an opportunity to sign, as I did, if you choose. 

HarborLAB is deeply grateful to the NYC Economic Development Corporation for its partnership at Hunters Point South and other shorelines, and to the NYC Department of Transportation for its work to improve ferries and widen the reach of bicycling in areas HarborLAB serves. So it pains us to see years of our work ignored in the agencies’ planning for the street end where our canoe fleet is based and where we continue to restore habitat on private land. To appreciate the degree to which Queens has been disrespected, please contrast the most recent community proposal with the plan poised for implementation (above), and contrast our Vernon Boulevard site in LIC with its twin street end yards away across Newtown Creek, Greenpoint’s Manhattan Avenue Park (below).  


I’ve participated in community visioning efforts for the betterment of this potential safe access point to Newtown Creek for two decades. Though designs have evolved, core recommendations have been remarkably consistent. We want kayak launches, temporary docking, habitat restoration, shaded sitting areas, and resilience in the face of increasing climate chaos. All the while the City neglected deteriorating infrastructure on the Newtown Creek waterfront of Queens, let violent crime and property damage go largely unchecked, and turned a blind eye to squatting. None of these conditions are endemic to the Brooklyn side of the creek. 

If the NYCEDC/NYCDOT plan goes forward, it will be impossible to later integrate the elements we require. The supposed rush to build is solely born of the City’s negligence to date. New residents are coming to Hunters Point South and commercial developments could stretch east to Vernon Boulevard .The malignancy of this asymmetry between Vernon Boulevard and Manhattan Avenue is a shameful disservice to people living and working in Queens today and those who’ll follow. I hope we and our community partners like Newtown Creek Alliance can work with elected officials and our friends in these city agencies to prevent this wrong and leave a fitting legacy. 


Erik Baard
Executive Director