By Katie McFadden
The lease to utilize Floyd Bennett Field as a site to house migrants has officially been signed. On the afternoon of Friday, September 15, Mayor Eric Adams announced the lease between the city, state and federal government was made official. By late Monday night, local elected officials filed an injunction in the hopes of stopping the shelter by legal means.
In his announcement, Mayor Adams said, “New York City has entered into a lease agreement with the federal government that allows us to use Floyd Bennett field as an emergency site to shelter some of the more than 113,300 asylum seekers who have sought our care since the spring of 2022. I want to thank Governor Hochul for her commitment to reimbursing New York City fully for the use of this site.
“But let’s be clear: If the federal government were to issue an emergency declaration, additional federal space and funding would become available to better manage this crisis. Further, as I have said before, because we haven’t seen meaningful policy changes that would alter the course of this crisis, we’ve been forced to unsustainably open new site after new site as asylum seekers continue to arrive by the thousands. This is not an adequate solution or any sort of long-term plan by the federal government to this national problem.”
The lease, available on the National Park Service website, allows for “Construction and operation of a site for providing shelter and services to a maximum number of 2,000 migrant persons, including necessary infrastructure and improvements on Floyd Bennett Field (NY) to address an emergency need that has developed with regard to migrants within the City of New York.” While the lease as signed caps the number at 2,000, it continues to say that can be changed. “Lessor will consider a request to modify the maximum number of migrant persons if doing so is consistent with all compliance requirements and authorized by the Lessor’s authorities and regulations governing this Lease.”
The lease became effective on September 15 and is good for a year, through September 14, 2024. And it comes at a cost. The monthly rent to use Floyd Bennett Field will be $1,733,750. For the year, that means $20,805,000 just in rent. There’s also an additional $7 million in annual “Management and Oversight Rent.” The city will also be responsible for all utilities at the site including gas, electricity, other power, water, cable, telephone and other communication services, sewage, and waste removal. The state will reimburse the city for the annual cost at a rate of $383 per night per bed.
Facilities will be constructed on site at Floyd Bennett Field. The areas designated for use include runway 19, a portion of the Hangar B/ Sea-Plane Parking Lot and two campground areas. All temporary facilities “must be constructed in a temporary and removable fashion,” and must be resilient and able to be demobilized within 72 hours in anticipation of major weather events.
On Tuesday, Councilwoman Joann Ariola announced that she and other elected officials, including Brooklyn Assemblywoman Jamie Williams, local Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato and 36 other officials, leaders, taxpayers and residents, filed an injunction at the Richmond County Supreme Court just after midnight on September 19, seeking to halt the establishment of a migrant base camp at Floyd Bennett Field.
“Today’s injunction sends a clear message to all those seeking to turn Floyd Bennett Field into a migrant base camp: we will not sit idly by and allow you to destroy our city,” Ariola said. “New York City has had more than its fair share from this migrant crisis. More than 100,000 people have passed through this city in the last year alone, and unless something is done, another 100,000 are sure to follow. It’s time for our government to close the border and end this crisis. Until then, we will make it clear that our national parkland is not to be used as a shelter space.”
Prior to the filing, Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato released a statement saying, “I am remarkably disappointed in the action of President Biden, Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams for their flagrant disregard for the valid concerns of the residents of South Brooklyn and the Rockaway peninsula. It is without a doubt unacceptable, inhumane and cruel to construct a shelter and house migrants in a known flood zone like Floyd Bennett Field. This location lacks basic infrastructure like plumbing and electricity, along with adequate resources that will cause further disparities for the residents that already reside in these communities. I have heard your objections and share your concerns. We are prepared to use the legal avenues available to oppose this plan and prevent its implementation. This is a national problem, and it is not going to be solved on the backs of the residents of this community.”
As we go to press, it is not clear when or if the migrants will be moving to FBF.
At Tuesday’s Belle Harbor Property Owners Association meeting, Ariola said the injunction filing has been assigned to Judge Colon at Richmond County Court. As of Wednesday, a court hearing was scheduled for October 3. She and other officials on the injunction will also testify before a congressional delegation in hopes of getting federal assistance in this matter.