2000-05-27 / Columnists

From The G-Man...by Gary Toms

From The G-Man

The ‘Oceans Of Hope’ Proposal

Hey people! This week’s column is directed at the following: Senator Charles Schumer and State Senator Malcolm Smith, Congressmen Gregory Meeks and Anthony Weiner, Assemblywoman Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, and Councilwoman Juanita Watkins. I ask that you pay close attention to this article because it concerns the very people who voted you into office.

First of all, I guess congratulations are in order for Meeks, who obtained a $900,000 grant for Far Rockaway, and Cummings, who is negotiating to obtain funding for the dilapidated Mott avenue subway station. While many residents appear skeptical that anything good will come from these grants, I must admit that I am a bit dismayed as well. As stated previously, RDRC received some of the grant and Columbia University took the rest for a study, but I don’t understand how people outside of Far Rockaway can determine what is best for the area. It would only seem logical that the agencies, and officials, from the area would know how to allocate the money. Call me crazy, but it just seems strange.

The funding for the Mott avenue train station is a noble thing, but honestly speaking, it doesn’t serve a whole lot of purpose. Two point five million dollars is proposed for the station, but after it’s completed, all you’re going to have is a train station that looks nice! What would be the return on the investment with regard to economic growth? I don’t consider that to be a way of getting the most for your money. Besides, repairing train stations is secondary to repairing the hopes and dreams of the community.

I sit back and view all of this, as someone who owns a company and does consulting work, and I am amazed at how money is obtained for this area with no idea of how to maximize the investment. If there are ideas, no one is making them available to the public, and they may not be made public for quite some time. We have to wait for the results of a study that appears to have no timetable. Well, while some people choose to sit around and play with their bottom lip, trying to come up with plans for the grant money, I have come up with a few ideas on how the money could be used.

The "Oceans of Hope" Proposal, is geared toward helping build economic independence, as well as political and cultural awareness for the residents of Far Rockaway and adjoining communities. The proposal would include:

1. Community Based Radio Stations (in east and west regions of Rockaway) -- These low frequency stations would be vital in providing information about what is happening within the peninsula, and it would serve as a forum where important issues could be discussed. It would also include a music format based on cultural diversity. There would be programs geared for people of African-American, Haitian, Jewish, Latino and Asian decent, as well as others. Moreover, high school and college students should have a major role in the operation of these stations. This would allow them to contribute to their communities and focus on building careers.

2. Trade School -- If you want to keep kids off the streets, and out of the drug game, then you’ve got to teach them a trade. If they don’t want to deal with the educational system, trades like air conditioning and refrigeration, auto repair, barbering and computer maintenance should be a viable option for them. If given a chance, you’d be surprised what they could accomplish.

3. "The Sea Breeze Cyber Café" -- A café of filtered computers where kids and adults could go to do research, homework and information gathering. You could set up a little juice bar and have some nice jazz or mellow music playing in the background. Again, it’s someplace nice to go instead of being on the streets.

4. Cultural Center -- To know yourself, you must look to your past. This center will warehouse a collection of books, films and videos about some of the most celebrated people, and periods, in history. Whether you’re Jamaican or Irish, there will be something for everyone.

5. Community Sporting Events -- In order to bridge the gap between the Rockaway area residents, local politicians, fire, police, EMS and hospital workers, money could be put toward sponsoring a yearly sporting event between the residents and these agencies. Imagine people from Redfern, Hammels, Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park taking on firemen and police officers in basketball or baseball tournaments! You could have DJ’s and food at this event, and it would definitely bring the communities closer together.

The last thing to consider would be bringing in some major department stores, restaurants and theaters to the area. I don’t know if any of the above listed reps have thought about approaching the various business outlets, but if they have, perhaps it’s time to follow through. If these executives need to be persuaded, in order to invest in Rockaway, just tell them to go and talk to the folks at Columbia University. It’s only fair, I mean, they have all the money, and they seem to know what’s best for us.

If you’d like to respond to my articles, e-mail me at

Mapel2000@aol.com. All responses will be forwarded to me. Take care, and I’ll see you next week!

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