1999-10-09 / Columnists

Simon Says….

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

We received a copy of a Department of Buildings letter signed by Queens Borough Commissioner James J. Leonard, R.A. The letter stated "As you are aware the building (230 Beach 118 street) was vacated yesterday, August 25, and shall remain vacated until the owner corrects all of the violations and issues leading to this action by the Department of Buildings. As of this date there shall be no occupants residing within the building regardless of their relationship to the property. A permit to correct the violations may be required and no applications have been filed with the department as of this date. Should you witness people a occupying the building, please inform the Department of Buildings at once."

As district leader I want to be on the record to state that this house has been ordered closed for the past few years. Somehow people have been winding up back in the house. This house is owned by Michael Andrews, slumlord extraordinaire of the 20 Century and one of the beings we hope won't be around in our community in the 21 Century.

After numerous calls to Joe Mineo, Jimmy Fleming and Mr. O’Flaherty at the Department of Buildings, as well as others, nothing has been done to combat this problem. We are very surprised that no one seems to care. We are shocked that Commissioner Leonard, a resident of the Rockaways, and an all around good guy, does not take care of it himself.

Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish American fraternal organization, is soliciting membership in the Queens County AOH. Philip McManus, the organizer is at 105-00 Shorefront parkway, 9F, Rockaway Park, New York. If you are interested in becoming a member contact Phil. This is an organization that promotes Irish heritage, peace and justice in a united Ireland, human rights issues addressed to the MacBride principles, freedom of religion and respect for life.

Last Wednesday we had the opportunity to speak directly to the board of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation at their annual meeting at Elmhurst Hospital. I reminded them that a year has passed us by since they closed the Neponsit Health Care center in the middle of the night.

The following is from my speech at the meeting: "I am outraged and disgusted that you have taken innocent people and tossed them away like a side of beef. The engineering report by Einhorn, Yaffee and Prescott stated that it would take $1.5 million to repair the building but it suddenly escalated to $50 million. Boy, do I still smell a rat. I am holding in my hand a report dated September 18, 1998 of the emergency response team from the New York Department of Buildings which states that some repairs were needed but no serious structure problems existed. If this was the standard or the emergency evacuation, hundreds of buildings throughout New York City would have to be closed. U.S. Healthcare Finance Administration, known as H.C.F.A., has been fining you $1,000 a day, but you have not paid your fine. Legal Aid brought suit on behalf of the residents for the unfair treatment and to reopen Neponsit home for the residents, One of the things requested was to allow an independent engineer to check out the site. Judge Batt said this could be done if both parties consented. Yet Dr. Luis Marcos, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation refused to consent to this. We have been asking since the closing of Neponsit for an independent engineer's inspection. Why has it been over a year and H.H.C has not agreed to comply? Who is covering up for this dirty rotten deal? Was it in fact true that you were not aware of the 1955 court decision that the Neponsit Health Care Center property would revert back to park land if it was closed? (Alexander Aldrich and Leonard L. Sutter v. City of New York). Thank God for Legal Aid which brought an injunction or a perfectly good building would have been destroyed in the wee hours of the morning to assist in your cover-up. Shame, shame on you liars. Now let me get back to a fantastic program in my community called the Neponsit Adult Day Care program. It reopened in December 1998 in a temporary home at the Young Israel of Par Rockaway at Beach 9 street. I am demanding from you Dr. Luis Marcos and Dr. Rosa Gil that within 30 days we have in writing a lease agreement for a new home at a permanent site in Rockaway for the Neponsit Adult Day Care program."

At the meeting the HHC handed out their annual report, "Public and Proud 1998." What was obviously missing under the Queens network was the Neponsit Adult Day Care program. At the end of this meeting we questioned Commissioner Marcos on this omission. Commissioner Marcos was bent out of shape with me for calling him, and his fellow board members, liars. He asked me to apologize if he would consent to allow independent engineers to check out Neponsit Home. I stated that if an independent engineer was able to prove such severe storm damage that required $50 million in repairs I would back off and apologize for saying they are covering up.

Senior Vice President LaRay Brown immediately spoke to me and made it clear that they definitely want a permanent site for a day care center. She, along with Pete Velez, senior vice president of the Queens Health Network, who has been an angel to Neponsit Day Care, responded immediately.

On Thursday afternoon we had a conversation with LaRay Brown and the Real Estate Division of the HHC and spoke about a potential site in Rockaway that would be a great location for a permanent home for day care. More to come.

Matt Bromme, interim acting superintendent of District 27, will speak at the Good Government Democratic Club on Thursday, October 14 at 7:45 p.m. Gerald McCarthy, acting principal at P.S. 114, and Professor Tibbbi DuBoys, director of Teacher Education at Brooklyn College, will also speak. The club is at 112-20 Beach Channel drive (upstairs). All are invited.





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