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The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Idlewild Park Preserve Canoe and Kayak Launch at the street end located just south of the Huxley Street and Craft Avenue intersection was held on Saturday, September 22, 2007, at 11:00 AM.  This project was the result of a joint collaboration between the Eastern Queens Alliance and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Commissioner of Parks, Adrian Benepe, shown above, officiated and led the canoers and kayakers out into the waters immediately after.  Also shown above are Richard Hellenbrecht, Chairperson of Community Board 13, Barbara Brown, Chairperson of the Alliance, Michele Titus, Assembly Member of the 31st AD, and Laura Hansen, Grants Manager of the JM Kaplan Fund.

The ceremony was very well attended. The Sebago Club and the Long Island City Canoe Club joined the fun and made it possible for some of the local residents to go out on the water. The Urban Park Rangers also took registered attendees go out in canoes.  This is the 5th such outing planned by the Alliance with Parks, but this time there was a real launch for non-motorized craft. Participants got a close-up look at the beauty of the wetlands that exist in Idlewild and a deeper understanding of their importance. This is just the beginning of providing waterfront accessibility to Idlewild Park, and eventually to the adjacent Thurstin Basin. Experienced boaters can even go out to the larger area of Jamaica Bay. The Alliance is in the process of designing a canoe/kayak project which will give community residents the opportunity to enjoy the treasurer that is sitting in their own back yard.

This Idlewild Waterfront Street-end Park Project for a Canoe/Kayak/Rowboat Launch on Idlewild Park Salt Marsh was made possible in part through a $15,000 grant to the Alliance from the JM Kaplan Fund for the design of the launch that would provide, for the first time, waterfront access to Southeast Queens.  The Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski was excited by the idea and agreed that Parks would do the design if the Alliance could use the grant to pay for materials.  The grantors agreed.

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 This project is one of many planned by EQA. The Eastern Queens Alliance is dedicated to protecting the parklands and open spaces in its communities. Idlewild Park contains the largest expanse of high quality salt marsh along the shores of Jamaica Bay. Tidal creeks running through the park are the most extensive in, and provide the largest volume of freshwater to, the Bay. It is EQA’s desire to preserve, restore and develop all of this and to make it accessible to the community.

This launch is a major step in the implementation of the Alliance’s strategic plan.