1999-07-29 / Columnists

Simon Says…

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

We attended a meeting of Local 1199 members at St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway chaired by Bruce Lanes, an organizer. The hospital is going through a major financial crisis with layoffs of 95 or more employees scheduled. Staff members told how patient care has deteriorated in recent months. I am making a firm commitment to stand steadfast to assure that this hospital not close. It is important that our community stay vigilant so we don't lose the only hospital on the peninsula where a baby can be delivered.

With the abundance of seniors and large number of nursing homes in Rockaway one hospital can't handle the load. We urge everyone to call all elected officials who are listed on the editorial page of this paper to let them know that we need a fully operational hospital.

On Thursday evening Mayor Giuliani had a town hall meeting in Ozone Park. It was open for community participation for residents and neighbors to ask questions of the commissioners and his honor, the Mayor. I questioned the mayor on reopening the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. He referred the question to Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, who is also a member of the board of the MTA. Washington said that I would get a call back the next day to set up a meeting for full discussion of this matter.

We deem this urgent because a study of the Rockaway Beach line will be coming out in the coming weeks. We want the mayor and his staff to be aware that the community is in support of this project.

At the end of this meeting my staff and I approached various commissioners. One of the commissioners I took on was our illustrious parks commissioner, Henry Stern. I challenged him to walk the entire length of the Rockaway boardwalk to show him the deteriorating conditions that exist from one end to another. Holes, nails and screws protrude. Rails are missing in locations where children can fall off. Hundreds of people have tripped on the boardwalk, with some breaking limbs.

Some mothers have had to stop wheeling carriages on the boardwalk. This boardwalk is an accident waiting to happen. Assistant Commissioner Estelle Cooper tried to interfere by saying that I was not a supporter of our Republican City Councilman. We made mention of that Queens Commissioner Richard Murphy has been supportive, but needs Commissioner Stern's support for major repairs. Henry Stern has consistently refused to take an extended tour with me. The Commissioner should retire if he doesn't like his job. Rockaway is the jewel of the city and state and the beaches are used by people from all areas. We urge the mayor to make sure Henry Stern knows the condition of the beaches and boardwalk.

The annual Rockaway Irish Festival was held this past Saturday and Sunday. Grand Marshal Anthony Weiner is certainly deserving of the honor. He has been an activist in Irish American issues and met with Sen. George Mitchell to support the peace initiative. He voted for the congressional resolution noting the historical significance of the Good Friday peace agreement. Although not Irish, his heart has Little Ireland, Rockaway, there. Congratulations to Kathleen "Bobbie" Hart,, Frank Harnishers Marina Callaghan, the Rockaway Rookies and everyone who made the festival a success.

On Tuesday evening we attended the Founder's Reception at the grand opening of the permanent home of the Rockaway Museum located in the Wave building at 88-08 Rockaway Beach boulevard. The first exhibit was a retrospective on Rockaway's Playland It was a sheer delight to bring tack all of our old memories The best part was seeing Phyllis Geist, Mrs. Rockaway's Playland, and her family. Phyllis looks fantastic.

The Rockaway Museum is one of the best things that happened to Rockaway. Dr. Doris Moss, who worked so diligently along with the founding members made this a reality. We are looking forward to rapid expansion of the Rockaway Museum. We urge all to make donations of what ever they can afford to this worthy cause. Get well wishes to Dr. Doris Moss who is recuperating. We love you and miss you.

We wish a speedy recovery to one of the finest women of class in our community. I always refer to her as mother of all. Joan Cotter is always there for anyone who has a problem. Joan is in Peninsula Hospital recovering from a lung infection. We ask everyone to keep her in their prayers. Joan is a very religious Catholic.

When Rabbi Melvin Lehrer, a resident of the 500 block on Beach 129 street told me that a LIPA repair person told him that an additional transformer was needed to prevent future blackouts, I called Tim Harris, operations supervisor at LIPA, Queens-Nassau Division. The transformer was installed on July 26.

Parents of children entering the Pre-K classes have told me that the children were assigned to locations far from their homes. One of the criteria for admission to the program at P.S. 114 seems to be eligibility for free lunch. I find it hard to believe that a wonderful program like this does not provide transportation to school would ask mothers on Beach 122 street (the side zoned to P.S. 114) to take their child to Breezy Point. This mother does not drive. Parents who live on Beach 133, Beach 134 and Beach 135 streets also have to take their four year olds far from home.

Old fashioned community schools are very important. If a child gets sick during the day and has to be picked up the family should be near by. We are trying to get to the bottom of this problem. We have reached out to Deputy Mayor Ninfa Segarra a member of the Board of Education and have put parents in touch with Queens member Terri Thomson.

We will be going to Atlantic Bity on Saturday August 15 at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $23 with $15 returned. Call now for reservations. I am always available to help with community problems. Just and I will return your call.



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