The former Fort Tilden is located on a barrier island known as the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens County, New York (Congressional District NY-05). The property is now owned and managed by the U. S. National Park Service as part of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Fort Tilden was established as a coastal defense site in 1917. Various munitions were used to defend the New York Harbor, ranging from large caliber munitions to small arms. Batteries constructed and operated to support the coastal mission included Battery Harris, East and West (16-inch guns), Battery Kessler (6-inch guns), and Battery Ferguson (6-inch guns). In addition, there were both a pistol range and an 800-yard rifle firing range located at Fort Tilden, documented as being present in the early 1960s.
Other missions at Fort Tilden included testing of anti-aircraft guns (c. 1917 to the early 1950s), and housing
Nike anti-aircraft missiles (1950s to 1967). Between 1968 and 1974, the Nike missiles at Fort Tilden were decommissioned.
The following is a site-specific history and munitions response site (MRS) summary associated with the Fort Tilden-Land Area project:
Coastal Battery & Small Arms Ranges – Land
This MRS consists of several subranges: Battery Harris, East and West, Battery Kessler and Battery Ferguson, and Pistol Range and Rifle Range. Munitions associated with this MRS are small to large caliber munitions, practice rockets, and small arms ammunition. During site visits for the 2007 Site Inspection (SI) Report, no munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) were observed; however, munitions debris (MD) from small arms ammunition was observed at the Rifle Range and Pistol Range. During an earlier site visit in 1995, recorded finds included MD from a practice rocket, small arms ammunition, machine gun belt links, unidentifiable igniters attached to expended incendiaries, a small burn pit, and a bullets burial pit. In 1991, a practice rocket was reported to be found. Analysis results of soil sampled during the 2007 site inspection (SI) identified munitions constituents (MC) that exceed human health and ecological screening values.
Based on MD being observed at the MRS, and MC sampling results, further investigation is recommended for the land areas, subject to availability of funds. The water areas also warrant further investigation.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is conducting work at the site under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (DERP-FUDS).
To read a fact sheet on the project Click Here.
If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Gregory Goepfert, Project Manager, at (917) 790-8235.