$2.4 million for Floyd Bennett Field clean-up

The present is catching up with Floyd Bennett Field’s past, officials announced this week.

The former airport and naval station will be the recipient of $2.4 million to clean up a 40-year-old, two-acre jet fuel spill on the southeast corner of the 1358-acre site, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Rep. Anthony Weiner allocated the money, which comes from a Department of Defense appropriations bill.

The United States Army Corps of Engineer will be performing the cleanup. A time frame was not available at press time. Once the fuel is cleaned, it is expected that the site could be used for some sort of recreational use. As this paper went to press, a Weiner aide could not provide additional details about the project, which was announced Jan. 12.

Constructed between 1928 and 1931, Floyd Bennett Field, was the first municipal airport in New York City. According to the National Parks Service, the former airport was designed to divert the increasing volume of air traffic to New York City away from Newark Airport where most New York bound flights terminated. By 1933, Floyd Bennett Field was the second busiest airport in the country, with 51,828 landings and takeoffs. The field was named in honor of naval aviator Floyd Bennett, who piloted the first flight over the North Pole in 1926.

In 1941, the field was sold to the United States Navy and became known as Naval Air Station-New York. During World War II, the field was the busiest naval air station in the United States, and was usedfor training and antisubmarine patrol flights.

It was also the home of the Naval Air Ferry Command which was responsible for the acceptance, commissioning, and ferrying of naval aircraft from the factories to the fleet, according to Parks.

In 1971, the U.S. Navy deactivated the field, and the National Park Service made the location part of Gateway.

“The main thing, is that any progress we make toward any type of remediation is excellent,” said Gateway spokesperson Jane Ahern.

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