Arverne East Nature Preserve Officially Opens

 Arverne East Nature Preserve Officially Opens

The Arverne East Nature Preserve is open—officially! NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue joined New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr., Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson, Councilmember Selvena Brooks-Powers, Managing Director of L+M Development Partners LLC Sara Levenson, and members of the community on Wednesday, April 24 to celebrate the opening of the new Nature Preserve and welcome center.

The new nature preserve, near the boardwalk between Beach 44th and Beach 56th Streets, hosts five different maritime ecosystems, providing a safe home for diverse local flora and fauna. Pedestrian pathways weave through the preserve, offering New Yorkers a new way to observe and appreciate these natural environments. A new welcome center was also constructed as part of this project, which houses a community meeting space, office space for Urban Park Rangers, crew headquarters for Parks maintenance staff, and public restrooms.

“What was once a vacant, overgrown illegal dumping ground for decades is now a stunning hub of wildlife and a successful example of what community-centered sustainability work looks like,” Richards said.

The 35-acre Arverne East Nature Preserve is designed by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects. There are five ecological communities within the preserve: Maritime Grassland, Maritime Dunes, Maritime Shrubland, Maritime Forest, and Maritime Swale. Visitors may see different shorebirds using the swale and migrating songbirds using the forest and shrublands. In the fall, seaside goldenrod will fill the site with color, and visitors can catch monarch butterflies filling up on the plant’s juicy nectar before flying south. Locally sensitive plants such as beach sedge and Gray’s flatsedge will also call the nature preserve home.

Pathways allow visitors to experience the diverse flora and fauna these habitats support. The nature preserve also features an approximately 6,000 square foot welcome center, designed by WXY, with a community meeting room and adjacent oceanview terrace, offices for Urban Park Rangers, storage space for Parks maintenance equipment, and public restrooms.

To the east of the welcome center, local non-profit organization RISE will operate a native plant nursery, raising locally adapted native plant seedlings and saplings to support ongoing revegetation of the nature preserve, dunes, and other natural areas around the coast. Nearby, an urban farm operated by the Campaign Against Hunger will provide nutritious local produce.

The welcome center is fossil fuel-free. A closed-loop, geothermal system provides heating and cooling, while a rooftop solar array generates power to supply the building and eventually provide additional energy to low-income residents in the neighborhood. A parking lot with approximately 30 spaces has been constructed with a permeable asphalt system and bioswales for stormwater.

“I am excited that community organizations like RISE and The Campaign Against Hunger will be operating at the preserve and showing our youth on the peninsula that they can have a career in agriculture and other green jobs,” Pheffer Amato said.

“I look forward to the completion of Arverne East Nature Preserve, especially as the nearby Arverne East continues development. The community can have affordable housing and environmental sustainability while enjoying local flora and fauna,” Anderson said.

This project represents phase one of Arverne East, a transformative project that will revitalize a vacant 116-acre oceanfront site.

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