Expanding Access to Gateway National Recreation Area
Imran Khan, New York City, New York
Imran first engaged with NPCA as a high school student at a partner’s service event. From that volunteer outing, he quickly proved to be a wonderful asset for NPCA. Imran brought his friends to subsequent events, participated in a Civic Voice Workshop and used his newfound advocacy skills to lobby with NPCA on behalf of increased funding for Jamaica Bay. He even showed up during the recent government shutdown for a midwinter cleanup, working with his community to fill in for the furloughed staff at this urban park.
Gateway National Recreation Area provides millions of New Yorkers with an opportunity to get outside, explore nature, discover wildlife, camp and recreate in its three units: Jamaica Bay and Fort Wadsworth in New York and Sandy Hook in New Jersey.
Jamaica Bay is the largest national park unit in New York City, consisting of 18,000 acres, and it is one of the most visited national parks in the country.
Unfortunately, nearby residents have very few public transportation options to get to the park.
NPCA has been actively engaged on this issue for years. After successfully helping create Gateway National Recreation Area’s general management plan — a visionary plan for balancing public recreation with resource protection and restoration — we are now building allies in the communities around Jamaica Bay to make the plan a reality. In 2017 we released a report with the Jamaica Bay Greenway Coalition that outlined nearly two dozen recommendations to address the transportation and access gaps. The suggestions ranged from providing bus drivers with helpful information about popular sites to initiating a bike share program and improving signage.
As this work moves forward, we will continue developing our relationships in communities, providing educational and advocacy opportunities to youth and adults alike, and pushing for a more accessible Gateway.