1999-11-27 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

It is amazing how quickly "garden apartments" for "single-family working parents, civil servants, senior and the working poor" can turn into six-story buildings for "low income tenants." Last week I wrote about the proposed project nearby Wavecrest Gardens. Philip Goldfarb is the owner of that property and he is the developer of the new project. The community board and many local politicians backed the project because it was slated for "moderate income families" and it was needed. Now, however, it is clear that it is for low-income clients and it is also clear that Rockaway has enough low income housing, be it public or private. The Beachside Bungalow Association is suing Goldfarb’s corporation over the project. In a deposition by Goldfarb, the owner says, "all of the units in the building are to be dedicated to low-income tenants." What more do we need to know before we pull the plug on Goldfarb? The New York City Housing Development Corporation, by the way, loaned Goldfarb $9,800,000 to build the 122 low-income units. Now it is up to our local politicians to pull back and take another look at their support for the project. All of them have said at one time or another that Rockaway has more than its share of low-income housing. It is time for them to act. Their silence will indicate that they have sold Rockaway out one more time. That is one time too many.

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Many issues come down to a conflict between two competing rights. It seems to me that the problem in Dayton-Seaside fits into that category. The owner got caught in a political shell game with Mayor Koch holding the shells. He believed that his tax abatements would be extended and local pols reportedly told him that it was all taken care of. It was not and he is right to argue now that he can’t pay all the back taxes and pay for the needed repairs. On the other hand, the tenants are right that the needed repairs must be made and made post haste. Both the owner and the tenants are caught in a squeeze that probably has no perfect solution. Now, Tony Weiner has called in HUD. It has been my experience that HUD can’t settle the time they have to go to the bathroom, nevertheless a mess such as this one. HUD is going to study the books and press the owner to make the repairs. As the old saying goes, "you can’t get blood from a stone." On the other hand, the politicians made the mess. Most of the pols who were around then are gone from the scene, and their replacements should come up with a compromise that would not make either the owners nor the tenants happy, but which would solve the problem and allow the repairs to be made.

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Like everything else in our politically correct society, the rules against converting homes to SRO’s have become a racial issue. An "Indio-Carribean" group on the mainland recently demonstrated to stop the city from fining homeowners who construct an illegal apartment and rent it out. "I look at this (the fines) as blatant harassment," one of the group said. One homeowner complained about a $1,600 fine she has to pay for putting in an illegal apartment in her basement. "I have no husband, I have no income," she said. "How am I to pay this?" One has to wonder how she has a house since she has no income and no means of support. Those who live in Rockaway know what SRO’s can do to a community’s quality of life. I just hope that the city does not bow to pressure and maintains its policy of fining those with illegal apartments.

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Why do I keep calling Beach Channel High School Broad Channel High School? Must be some sort of computer glitch. In any case, bcacwebsite e-mailed me to remind me that I did it again last week. He also reminded me that both the BCAC Pee-Wees and Ponies have made the Nassau-Suffolk Football League playoffs. Congratulations. The organization will hold its Hall of Fame Dinner Dance at the K of C in Rockaway this Friday night, the 27 of November. This is the 10 anniversary for the Hall of Fame and they have invited all of the members who have previously been inducted into the Hall. Sounds like a great night for a great organization.

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I want to congratulate Trevor Murray of Arverne, who completed the NYC marathon in 2:33 and change, a blistering pace. Not many Rockaway runners took part in the event and I believe that Murray was the first peninsula resident to cross the finish line. Thanks to Billy Stone for passing this information along.

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I usually do websites at the end of the column, but there is one that needs special attention. It is called the Defunct Parks site and you can reach it at www.defunctparks.com. It has a great deal of information and some great pictures of Playland in its heyday. The pictures were all supplied by a woman named Cheryl Mertz-Barger, and I would think that the Rockaway Museum would like to speak with her. The entire address for the Playland pix is www.defunctparks.com/parks/NY/rockaway/rockaway.htm. Give it a try.

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The community owes its thanks to Tony Weiner for bringing $450 thousand to fix up Riis Park. It is beyond comprehension, however, at least to me, that a swimming pool could cost upwards of $28 million to build. That would have to buy one hell of a swimming pool.

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There is no question about it. Historically, Belle Harbor runs from Beach 126 street west to Beach 141 street. Wave historian Emil Lucev proved that once and for all in a report issued about a year or two ago. He has the old site maps to prove it. In addition, many of the deeds to homes on those streets say the homes are in Belle Harbor. Jack King, however, obviously will not accept that simple fact. He ordered the Parks Department (why can he order Parks around anyway?) to stop installing beachfront signs paid for by the Belle Harbor Alliance. King has decreed that Belle Harbor begins on Beach 130 street, because that is what the Belle Harbor Property Owner’s Association (no dogs or renters allowed) says that it is. The signs should go up immediately. King is not The King, after all, and the community is what it says it is. Remember, after all, according to the U.S Government, we all live in Far Rockaway.

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RMAC held a first-class Fine Art Show and Sale last weekend. Those who attended were treated to a large dose of really good art, some wine, cheese and good company. Those who coordinated the event are to be congratulated.

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Judging by all the letters asking that the bus stop at RBB and Beach 117 street be reinstated, it is clear that it was a mistake to move it in the first place. That raises once again the question of who should be listened to, who is the "community?" If memory serves, the move was made because a subcommittee of Community Board 14 asked that the stop be moved because people were "hanging out" at the location in front of the library and they were disrupting business on Beach 116. I never thought that it was true, although the area in front of the library makes a natural hangout space. It still is. Moving the bus did not change that, but it did change the habits of many bus riders, who can no longer go and buy coffee and on the street and still get back to the bus on time. Perhaps the subcommittee of Community Board 14 is not the community that uses the bus and that community should have been addressed prior to the move.

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That’s it for this week. Send comments and complaints to Newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week, and safe home.

 

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