2000-02-12 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter

East side, west side, all around the town. One can't help but notice that Rockaway's going down. There is a silent war going on in the foyers of
our community and somebody, or a group of somebodys, are profiting. When driving especially from the west to the east end, one can't help but ask, "Who's selling out Rockaway?"

I have been familiarizing myself with the Richard George story with
regard to the fate of the Beach 24 street bungalow colony. Perhaps if you're living cozy on the upper west end, with your mortgage paid, and two shiny brand new cars parked outside, you may not care about Mr. George from "downtown". After all, so "they" say, he's just an eccentric rabble-rouser who doesn't get along with people, and "we" the powers that be, well, we don't happen to like the way he fashions or keeps his bungalow! So "we" are just going to literally go and ease right through him and put up 122 low income housing units...right around him and his colony. We'll sell it to the community board; and since we contribute generously to their campaigns, we'll get the politicians to spoon feed it to the community....until it chokes. Let Mr. George financially exhaust himself. Eventually he'll get tired of waving his papers. We're not going to let something like an easement in perpetuity stop us. Minor details. We're so powerful, we can trot down to the building department, cash in on a few favors, and puff, we can make that disappear!

You still say you don't care? Well, if it could happen to Mr. George and the residents of Beach 24 street, then it could happen to you, to your property, at any time. In its community needs statement to the N.Y.C. Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Oceanview Associates pitches its application qualifying its Wavecrest Gardens II project for tax credits. It states that the project has the full support of the borough president, the district manager, Community Board 14, as well as our elected officials. "In accordance with Community Board 14's strategy and consolidated plan, the proposed
project shall provide affordable housing opportunities to those very
households commonly known as the "hidden homeless" population. In particular, the developer will give priority (61 units set aside) to community-based single female parents, frail senior citizens, and disabled veterans..." The project will also provide housing opportunities for "Rockaway residents who are forced to live in SRO type buildings which community Board 14 numbers at more than 200...and are rented to persons who receive some form of assistance
from city, state, or federal programs."
Now how can a community newspaper go against or be critical of a housing project that is for the benefit of seniors, disabled veterans, and single female mothers? The reason I am so galvanized by this issue is that we in Rockaway have more than our fair share of low-income housing. How will adding more enhance our economic growth? Oh, we will be told that there will be millions of dollars in disposable income coming into the community as a result of this project! How many single mothers of, let's say, three children, who have a qualifying income of between 14 and 22 thousand dollars, have much income left to dispose of?

The current status of the project is that the building department has not issued a stop work order. According to Mr. George's attorney, Ann Marie
Barbagallo, "there is a decision on an injunction pending before Queens Supreme Court Judge Weiss." I shall keep you informed as the story progresses.

***There is still time to obtain tickets to the annual St Patrick's Day
Parade Committee's Ball at Antun's on Saturday, February 19. You may request tickets at either West End Realty or the Palm Garden. Also, you can still get in on the action of the 50/50 raffle. Tickets are also available at these locations or from any parade committee member.

***My apologies to Mr. William Flaherty and congratulations on your honor as Deputy Grand Marshal.
And in the spirit of l'amour, Happy Valentine's Day!


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