Weiner Wins Windfall
Congressman Weiner (center, kneeling) presents Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Billy Garrett (far right) a $450,000 check for Riis Park.
By John McLoughlin
Congressman Anthony Weiner presented a $450,000 check to Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent, Billy Garrett, at an announcement on Thursday afternoon, November 11, at Jacob Riis Park. The federal funds will be used to repair and refurbish sections of Riis Park.
Surrounded by local residents and elected officials, Weiner said this money will "reverse years of neglect to Gateway."
Weiner, after continuous negotiations in Washington, secured these funds as a part of a five-year plan to respond to the needs of the community. The money was given to Gateway in one lump sum, but will be allocated to various projects over five years.
Repairs are expected to begin in the spring. Phase One will include repairs, safety modification and expansions of the East Tot Lot and picnic areas. Future phases will also see renovations to the handball courts, paddle tennis courts, shuffleboard courts and baseball fields. All repairs and renovations should be completed by the summer of 2004.
"Children of the Rockaways should not have to play on equipment that is decrepit and unsafe, or on fields and courts that are in disrepair," Weiner said.
Weiner applauded the efforts of community leaders and Garrett in working with him to secure the money, but credited Rockaway Park Association board member, Joanne Greenberg, with being "one of the first persons to tell me about Riis Park."
Weiner received several pats on the back from Democratic District Leaders Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey. "This man delivers," said Simon, as Chapey expressed that Rockaway is "not the forgotten child under Weiner's leadership."
Weiner did make mention of a pool at Riis Park, which was first proposed during Senator Charles Schumer's term as congressman in the Rockaways. Weiner said the pool would cost $28 million, which would be "one of the biggest projects ever taken in Riis Park." The President and Department of Interior have requested money for the pool in past years, but this year it was not in the budget. Weiner promised that both he and Senator Schumer will "ask for it and push for it" in next year's budget. Weiner made it clear that money of such great proportions would be given over a number of years.
Riis Park repair and renovation funds are contained in the Interior Department's Fiscal Year 2000 budget as passed by both the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.