1999-11-20 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

There is something not quite kosher going on in Rockaway and it will take some investigation to find out just what it means. When the Goldfarb family, which owns Wavecrest Gardens, wanted to build homes for city workers, veterans and working families, I was all for it. Now that I have seen some of the documentation, however, I am not sure the project is what it was purported to be. First of all, at a community board meeting on February 11, Jonathon Gaska, the board’s district manager, requested a letter of support from the board to "build 122 garden apartments," on the site adjoining Wavecrest Gardens. When that letter of support was written on February 26, however, it said that the community board supports the development of "122 low to moderate income apartments under the Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Trust Fund programs." Somehow, that doesn’t sound the same to me. When did "garden apartments" become "low income apartments?" In addition, the letter stated that "these much needed apartments will provide homes for our …working poor population." Sounds strangely like more city housing to me, and Rockaway does not need any more low income projects, thank you. We have more than our share already. Here is the deal. Goldfarb would build the development and then the Margert Community Corporation, a not-for-profit advocacy group would buy the "low income portion of the Wavecrest II Project" at a cost "equal to or below the minimum amount permitted pursuant to the code for purposes of a "qualified contractor." What that means, folks, is that at least a portion of the project will have to go to welfare families and to the "working poor." Other information that I have received from sources that prefer to remain in the background says that the entire project will quickly become "low income." There are letters of support in the application from City Council member Juanita Watkins, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Congressman Greg Meeks. Watkins calls the project a "welcome addition" to the community. Pheffer says that there is "a severe shortage of affordable housing for moderate income families," which is probably true. The only problem, Audrey, is that this is being targeted for low-income families. Look around you, Audrey and tell me that there is a severe shortage of low income housing in Rockaway. Meeks does not mince words. He says that the project will "provide affordable housing units for seniors on fixed incomes as well as Rockaway residents on public and housing assistance payments. More on this in the future, but some of those pols who have supported the project because they thought that it would be for moderate income residents had better take another look in the light of the fact that it clearly will not.

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Episcopal Health Services, which owns St. John’s Hospital in Far Rockaway, has dropped the other shoe and has filed for bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court. While EHS has a deal to sell its Long Island units to the Catholic Health Services, there is no such deal to divest itself of the Far Rockaway unit, and therein lies the tale. Dennis Rivera, the head of the union that represents the hospital’s workers, says, "(Far Rockaway) is the one we believe is in greatest danger. Our biggest concern is that the community is on an island (sic) and if the hospital disappears, not only the jobs of our members disappear, but the possibility of services to patients." Despite the fact that Rockaway is a peninsula, not an island, Rivera is right. If Rockaway loses the services of St. John’s, it will lose one of its most important resources. It is incumbent upon our local politicians to work towards a solution to this problem. It is too important to ignore.

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I did not think that it would be possible, but Tony Weiner has become as ubiquitous as his predecessor, Chuck Schumer. I always believed that Schumer was really four different people, because how else could he attend all of the meetings he attended. Now that he is in the senate, we see Schumer mostly on television, but Weiner seems to be everywhere. Just recently, Tony showed up for a segment with some middle school students at District 27’s television studio and he wowed the kids. He seems to be in Rockaway often and, while I knock him for some of his actions, he is, by all accounts, doing a good job as our representative.

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Broad Channel High School lost its first playoff game in many years in a squeaker to Clinton High School 32-27. The final Clinton score came with 1:36 to play. Frankie Sanders had five pass reception for 120 yards and two touchdowns for the Dolphins and Frazier Osborne, a year-long standout, had 23 carries for 134 yards, a touchdown and an extra point kick that gave Channel the lead with three minutes to go. It was a good season for the Dolphins and Coach Marty Senall and his team has nothing to be ashamed of. Congratulations on a fine season.

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Far Rockaway High School, which went 0-8 in football, are 12-2-3 on the soccer field and are number 12 in the city. The Seahorses recently beat previously unbeaten City Tech by a score of 2-0. Goalie Okenfe Aigbe has 13 saves and earned his 10 shutout of the season.

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Hillary Clinton once again proved that she does not deserve to be in congress. When the wife of avowed terrorist turned statesman Yasir Arafat said that the Jews were using poison gas against Arab women and children, she stood mute and embraced Arafat’s wife even though Clinton knew that what Arafat’s wife said were lies. She said later that she was waiting for direction from the state department types traveling with her. This was akin to waiting for Hispanic pols to tell her how to act on the FALN ficasco. We do not need a Senator who has to wait for somebody else to tell her what to do. On the other hand, we do not need a Senator who cannot take criticism and who cannot abide consensus. What are we to do? Vote for Pat Paulson!

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There was a joke going around after the Olympics a number of years ago that said that a Russian (see how old the joke is) and an Americans had a race. The American won, but the Russian headlines said that the Russian ran second while the American ran next to last. It’s all in how you look at it. This week, the two major daily newspapers, the New York Post and the New York Daily News did much the same thing. The News trumpeted the fact that it was still number one in New York, the paper with the highest circulation. The Post, however trumpeted the fact that the News was down 51,000 while the Post was up 33,000. The graphic the Post used made it clear that the Post had risen above the News, which is not true. It’s all in how you look at it.

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It’s been a busy week what with school board meetings and open school evenings, so I am going to skip the Websites of the Week for this week. Remember to send comments and complaints to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week, and safe home.

 

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