2000-01-22 / Editorial/Opinion

Going After What We Want

While on his journey to bring ferry service to Rockaway, community activist Joe Hartigan stumbled upon the city of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Once a city in economic turmoil, Perth Amboy turned around due to a combination of federal monies and local initiatives. The demographic, geographic and economic similarities to Rockaway were clear, so Hartigan decided to meet with the city's elected officials to hear their story. The Wave joined Hartigan in this meeting.

Ferry service is now a reality for Perth Amboy thanks to federal money known as TEA-21. Funding is available for the construction of ferries and ferry terminals through TEA-21. Local projects being funded by this program include $60 million for the construction of new ferry terminals for the Staten Island ferry in Manhattan at the Battery and on Staten Island in St. George and $16.3 construction for ferry terminals in midtown on the west side of Manhattan. It is expected that the federal government will pump between $450 to $500 million into ferry service over the next six years. How does Rockaway get a piece of the pie?

It takes initiative from local politicians, something that made Perth Amboy the success it is today. Hartigan, with the support of the Rockaway Action Committee, filed the necessary papers through the New York City Park Department to qualify for TEA-21 money. They were not a grant recipient, most likely because they had to put together a proposal rather quickly. Now they have two more years to outline a plan, and our local officials should be doing whatever necessary for Rockaway to receive TEA-21 money. Our congressmen on both ends, Weiner and Meeks, should take the bull by the horn and see how Rockaway would qualify for this money. It's time that our elected officials, who represent us on the city, state and federal money, bring home the bacon. Why could there be plans to put a sports entertainment complex in Coney Island and not in Rockaway? Their elected officials must be doing something right!

There are so many opportunities for Rockaway to grab onto. Since last week's editorial, the Mets have decided to move their minor league team to Queens, at St. John's University. They are now looking for a permanent home in Queens (Meeks, Weiner, Stabile, Watkins, Cummings, and Pheffer should read this as get your pens and letterhead out and write to these people). Show them Rockaway. Become the salesmen/women we need. It is time that the community holds you accountable, gives you grades on your performance. No more of the biscuits you give us…we want the Turkey, the stuffing, cranberry sauce, yams…the entire meal. We want results!

Even Johnson, the new president of the Jets, announced the team is definitely out of the Meadowlands. Westchester County is already in the game, trying to attract the Jets their way. Why not Rockaway? Once again, get the letterhead and pens out and write some letters.

We recognize that Perth Amboy is a city, giving it more flexibility then Rockaway, which is a spoke in the wheel of the Big Apple. But, this federal money, the money that brought Perth Amboy back to life, is as available to us as it was to Perth Amboy. We just have to go after it…

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