2000-04-15 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter

As the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association Attorney Ann Marie Barbagallo prepares an appeal for a preliminary injunction against the builders of the Wavecrest Gardens extension, construction on the project continues to induce havoc in the lives of the residents of the Beach 24 street bungalow colony. The colony, which was initially constructed on a graded hill from street level to above 12 feet, contains two mid-block cement walls, which provide free and uninterrupted access to the public beach, as well as necessary access to the street. Now, as construction continues, despite cries from the residents and a pending injunction, residents are now cut off from access to the street. In other words, they are literally "trapped."

There is a staircase on the northern side and an access ramp on the
southern side. This access ramp was damaged last spring by construction
bulldozers for the purpose of breaking up the concrete and clearing the land.
This was done by the developers despite the fact that this ramp is a deeded right of way and is used by residents of the colony. One such resident, Vanessa Delgado, has a handicapped daughter whom she now must carry down a flight of stairs each day in order for her to board a bus to school.

As far back as July 1999, many calls were made to Community Board 14 and to District Manager Jonathon Gaska pleading for the ramp's repair. After seven months of phone calls and a letter dated March 7, 2000, Mr. George received a message on his tape from Mr. Gaska stating that a surveyor would be out to assess the ramp's damage and take care of it. However, it was during this same week that Mr. George was informed by a construction manager that the ramp was slated for total removal. Because of the severe impact the removal of the ramp would impose on
residents, especially those who are handicapped, calls were made to the NYC Office of Disabilities as well as to the NYC Housing Development Corporation who are funding the project. Residents succeeded in preventing the removal of the ramp; however, it remains as a mound of dirt and broken concrete, and has
been mostly washed away by recent rain storms.

After the dispute over the ramp, Neil Dunker, a homeowner who resides in the colony next to the project site, wrote a letter to Russell A. Harding, president of the NYC Housing Development Corporation, the agency which is funding the project. Mr. Dunker received a reply from Ben Okusu, senior project manager of NYCHPD stating, "we are in receipt of your letter dated March 7, 2000 expressing concern about ramp access to Beach 24 street. With respect to the ramp, extensive discussions have taken place between the developers and their architects. It is the architect's opinion that the developer is not in violation of any easement rights, and supports this with a title report. As a sign of good faith, however, the developer has chosen to
construct an ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant ramp."
HPD mailed a survey and architect's drawings of the proposed ADA compliant ramp to Richard George. The original ramp, that is in front of Mr. Dunker's house and goes down the graded lot parallel to Beach 24 street, will be removed. A new ramp will be constructed on the side of Mr. Dunker's house, next to his garden, and blocking the cement walk. Mr. Dunker will now be unable to walk around his house to do repairs, gardening, etc... as the ramp will block his access. It also now blocks access to the back houses. Mr. Okusu also states, " it is the architect's opinion that the developer is not in violation of any easement rights and supports this with a title report. This title report was obtained using a survey by Gerald T. O'Buckley, in which he voided the mid-block easement.

The developers could have updated Albert A. Bianco's June 1982 survey but it delineates the 40-foot wide easement and you cannot build on an easement. Instead, the developers chose to use a survey by Gerald T. O'Buckley who provided two surveys. One with an easement partially voided, which was submitted to the building department to obtain building permits; and the other, submitted to the Queens Supreme Court, which contains no easement at all.

The situation becomes even more interesting! A search on the Internet
under New York State Professional Misconduct and Discipline, for Engineers and Land Surveyors, lists Gerald T. O'Buckley, Jamaica, N.Y. as follows--"Profession: Land Surveyor; Regents Action Date: December 16, 1994; Action: Censure and Reprimand, probation one year under various terms, $2000 fine; Summary: Licensee admitted to charges of failing to indicate on a survey map that the map was based on a survey in his possession."

In a recent Wave article, "Landlord From Hell" dated April 1, 2000,
District Manager Jonathon Gaska states that the loudest sucking noise is coming from the Far Rockaway Shopping Center along Mott avenue. The Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association President Richard George and members are convinced that the loudest sucking noise is coming from the state in the amount of $16 million to build more low income and subsidized housing in an area that is already saturated with its share of low income housing.

Yet another project, the Wavecrest Gardens extension, has the full support and blessings of Borugh President Claire Shulman, Assembly-members Audrey Pheffer and Pauline Cummings, Councilmember Juanita Watkins, and Congressman Greg Meeks.

Although each have proclaimed their support for the revitalization of
Rockaway, each has written letters of their support for this project! Why?

There will be a fundraiser for the BBPA to be held at the Rockaway Park Playhouse on Sunday, April 30 from 3-5 p.m. There will be an original production of Packy McCracken's Traveling Show, and a raffle of an original oil painting by Artist Carmela George, a basket of cheer, and dinner for two. Please attend this worthwhile benefit. If a reckless disregard of an easement can happen to them, it can happen to you.

***Happy Birthdays to Eugene Pasternak and "Genius" Trainor!



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