1999-05-29 / Columnists

Simon Says….

by Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

In my years of community and civic activism we have observed many dangerous conditions including building collapses that never got prompt attention, last week there was a collapse of the Boulevard Hotel on Beach 97 street and Rockaway Beach boulevard that also housed Fiddler’s Green Pub. This building is owned by a famous slumlord. The community had to take action to close this hotel in 1994. For many years the residents noticed that the building was leaning, We feel sorry for Sean Kirby, owner of Fiddler’s Green which was an adult pub that was kept and fixed up beautifully.

It is amazing how Sean lost his investment and how the city worked so fast to demolish his building. Who is paying for this? Is this the taxpayer’s money or will the owner of the building be assessed ? Neighboring homes incurred major damage from this building collapse. Who will pay for this? We hope the city will respond as fast to the Monaghan house on Beach 119 street that we were told was slated for demolition two years ago and was never taken of.

Once again it is amazing that certain people might be getting preferential treatment. Let’s look at the old riverside funeral home on Central avenue in Far Rockaway, We had to wait several years after it collapsed for it to be fenced. The city later demolished one part, but left two parts standing next to a huge hole. District Manager Jonathan Gaska told the community board he didn’t know why the job wasn’t finished.

On June 1 there will be a City Council hearing on the Port Authority’s Van Wyck plan chaired by Council member John Sabini. This past Thursday night at the kickoff of the District Attorney’s reelection campaign, I spent some time with Council member Sabini. He reminded me that he has LaGuardia airport in his district. I made it clear to Sabini that he would help him fight a rail line which would hurt his community if he would help us with opening the Rockaway Beach line. It is urgent that we get everyone to speak out in opposition to the light rail.

The $600 million project put together by the Port Authority is a waste of the passenger Facility Charge Funds collected by the F.A.A. This money is supposed to be used for improvements for the airport and to control noise and other environmental problems caused by the airport. If the Van Wyck link is built no PFC funds will be available until 2009. This project in no way, shape or form will benefit anyone in Queens, The PFC funds could be used for construction on the airport freeing state funds which could be used for reopening the Rockaway Beach line. The Van Wyck line won’t even help Jamaica development as the Port Authority’s study shows that only nine people will actually walk around Jamaica when coming or going to the Jamaica terminal.

Let’s talk common sense. If you live in Manhattan, would you get on a train with your baggage and switch two or three times? I don’t think so. Who would take the train to the airport in these conditions. The Van Wyck line will not go to Rockaway. It will go on piles in the median of the Van Wyck and make it a virtual parking lot for five to ten years.

Anyone who uses the Van Wyck is aware of major traffic jams at rush hour or at any other time when construction or any other emergency erupts. You tend to sit in your car and say why me. Just three weeks ago I attended a meeting in Flushing. I got on the Van Wyck at 3:45 p.m. It took me one hour and ten minutes to get to Flushing from Jamaica avenue because they were repairing lanes.

If you feel the same way, come to our office this Thursday evening to sign a stamped addressed post card to Speaker Vallone asking him to stop this monstrosity. On Thursday evening June 10, Speaker Vallone will be our guest speaker. I guess you figured out that one of the topics he will address will be the light rail. This meeting will be your chance to urge the speaker to provide money for boardwalks, sewers, roads, schools and keeping libraries open seven days a week.. We can also remind him to remove the toll on the Marine Park Gil Hodges bridge for residents of Rockaway, Breezy Point and Broad Channel. The Marine Park bridge is on Gateway National Park property, We will need all our neighbors to join us and speak out.

On Thursday evening we attended a fundraiser for a fantastic crime fighter. Although he is short of stature, he is 10 feet tall in our book. That is our own District Attorney, Richard Brown. During the first years of his service as D.A. we owe him a debt of gratitude for closing the Nameoke street crack house which he padlocked as a violation of quality of life. In 1994 he also closed the Bond Hotel on Beach 97 street which was infested with drugs and violence. D.A. Brown has been a great, great crimefighter for the Borough of Queens.

Among the public figures at his announcement were Liberal Party leader Ray Harding, Conservative Party leader Tom Long, Independence Party leader Mike Neubauer, Democratic leader former Rep. Tom Manton and a representative of Republican leader Serph Maltese. Congress members Greg Meeks and Joe Crowley and Council members Sabini, Koslowitz, Marshall and McCaffrey were there. Assembly member Mike Cohen, a representative for Assembly member Tony Seminerio and almost all of the Democratic District leaders from Queens were present. Queens Parks Commissioner Richard Murphy and his Assistant Commissioner Estelle Cooper were there. The list could have a who’ s who of Queens politics.

We expect D.A. Brown to have all five lines and be overwhelmingly reelected . God bless D.A. Brown. May God watch over him and keep him in your prayers because we depend on him to protect us.

The local Wendy’s in Rockaway Park has a lovely manager named Evelyn who has great ideas to help the community, One of the ideas she will be installing will be called community proceeds night. Organizations which hold 501C(3) not for profit status will be eligible to get 30 percent of the profits for a three or four hour period of the evening, If you are one of these organizations you can contact Evelyn at Wendy’s. They also give a 10 percent senior discount every day, all day and free refills on coffee, tea and soft drinks.

Our next trip to Atlantic City will be on Saturday June 19. The cost is $23 with $14 returned. Join us on the only bus that gets eight hours to gamble and enjoy leaving at 5:30 p.m. and returns at 8 a.m. The bus leaves from our headquarters opposite Waldbaum’s parking lot. We are located above World Champion karate school.

Our office is open every Thursday evening from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. for community meetings but we are always available. We are listed in the phone book under Lew Simon and will always return your call.

This past Friday we attended a meeting at the Ocean Park building which is located at 125 Beach 17 street, The week before there was an explosion in the building which destroyed two of the three elevators. This building has 27 floors (with 13 omitted). Each floor has 12 apartments giving a total of 312 tenants, There are a number of handicapped, seniors and families with young children who need elevator service urgently.

It took us 21 minutes to get up to the meeting on the 18th floor because of the line waiting for the one working elevator, It would have taken even longer, but the tenants allowed us to go out of turn. Many of the residents reached out to me personally as well as to the office of Senator Waldon. It horrified me to see, while on the 18 floor, an elevator door opened while there was no elevator there. A major catastrophe could have occurred if someone stepped in. In order to obtain elevator service security must be called three to five times. I was angered to find that there were no smoke detectors in the halls. We have been told that this is a violation of the building code.

No one was alerted when the fire broke out. People were never told what to do in case of fire. There should be a major plan for what to do. We brought to their attention the Manhattan fire in the apartment where Macauley Culkin’s family lived. People went down stairways and some opened doors where the fire was burning, The New York City Fire Department has a great program where firefighters speak and tell people how to be safe during a fire.

In a fireproof high rise the safest place is in your own apartment. You should put wet towels under the door to keep smoke out. This week some of the tenants held a rally Thursday at six p.m. to voice their complaints that RY Management is not treating them properly and handling things in a professional manner. All elected officials and news media were invited. We will keep you informed .

Last week’s school board election was a waste of taxpayer’s money. According to an unofficial count given to us by Barbara Connachio of the Board of Elections, there were only 3,988 ballots cast on election Day in District 27 which included all of Rockaway, Breezy Point, Broad Channel and several mainland communities. 396 absentee ballots were received. We note that some of these ballots may be challenged for incorrect procedure. I think it is disgraceful that the media and major political figures downplayed the importance of this election. Voting machines should be used and candidates should be elected on their individual records not on rollover votes from other candidates. We hope to see some of the results next week.



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