2000-04-15 / Columnists

Simon Says….

by Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Abraham Reichmann, president of the Heathmont Corporation, which plans to build Destination Technodome on the vacant land near the beach in Arverne. Reichmann is confident that the necessary support for this great project is coming together. City officials have told him that the city will do most of the local projects needed. Financing and corporate sponsors are falling in line.

The plans for Destination Technodome were made public in May, 1997. It is a global year-round, indoor combined movie and music entertainment, recreation and festive theme retail and sports facility. It will be a showcase for technological innovation.

The proposal estimates that Destination Technodome will generate 19,454 direct and indirect construction jobs; 10,617 direct and indirect permanent jobs from operations; two million additional tourist visits; and $92.1 million annual spending, $210 million in local and state taxes from construction, and $158 million in local and state taxes annually from operations. It will preserve the beauty of our seashore and make it available to millions of visitors.

Reichmann praised Borough President Claire Shulman for the support she has given. He recalled visiting the site with her in mid-winter. He noted the support he has gotten from Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and his recent conversation with State Senator Malcolm Smith. Michael Carey, president of the New York City Economic Development Corp., has been very helpful according to Reichmann.

Technodome can bring a rebirth of the Rockaway economy. Reichmann pledged to cooperate in starting training programs for local residents interested in permanent jobs. It would give local residents dozens of new activities for our leisure time.

Reichmann told us of the encouragement he has received from public officials like Brad Race, secretary and chief of staff to Governor Pataki, and Floyd Lapp, who is in charge of strategic planning for transportation at the Department of City Planning.

Now is the time for the residents of Rockaway to speak up. We have seen too many good ideas pass us by. Some public officials don’t seem to know we exist. We can’t let this one get away.

We are going to start a postcard writing campaign to let our public officials know that we support the economic development promised by Technodome. Our goal is 40,000 signatures. Those of you who have seen our work in the past know that we are serious. We cannot do it alone. We are putting together a committee to make Technodome a reality. We invite you to join. You can help collect signatures or suggest other activities. In either case, we want to hear from you. You can call my office or come up on Thursday evening.

Supporters of reopening the Rockaway Beach line will be happy to know that Reichmann supports the resumption of LIRR service. This line could take thousands of Rockaway residents to work in the morning and bring thousands of tourists out to Technodome in the afternoon and evening. We intend to work together to get the transportation we need.

If we can get approval by September, Reichmann says he can get a shovel in the ground by 2002, and the first phase open by 2004. The entire development is a 10 to 15 year project.

We are saddened by the loss of Ita, Mary Lenihan’s sister and Ben Lenihan’s sister-in-law. Mary and Ben traveled to Ireland to pay their last respects. Mary’s sister died an unexpected death from cancer. She passed at a young age and I reminded Mary that when God takes someone so young, God needs a special angel in heaven. May she rest in peace.

We are saddened by the loss of the mother of the former owners of the Exercise Club, Jane Kane and Susan Weissman. Their mom made a miraculous recovery after major medical problems 10 years ago. We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the family.

We wish to congratulate Sara S. Berger, president of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, on her election as senior vice commander of the Jewish War Veterans of Queens County. Sara had served as a WAC in World War II where she met her late husband, Sam Berger. Sara has been a resident of the Rockaways for 66 years, a great community leader and an activist for positive change in the Rockaways. We congratulate Sara on this honor, which she adds to the many other honors she has received in the past.

Our next trip to Atlantic City will be on Saturday, May 20. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $25 with $14 returned.

We are at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club headquarters every Thursday evening from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. You don’t have to be a member to drop in. The office is at 112-20 Beach Channel drive opposite Waldbaum’s.

Royce Liberman, Fern’a daughter, is participating in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women’s Cancer on May 6. If you are interested in sponsoring and making a contribution to this worthy cause, you can leave a check in her mailbox, 174 Beach 133 street. Checks should be made out to Revlon Run/Walk for Women.

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