2000-08-05 / Columnists

Simon Says….

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

The future of the Rockaways hangs by a thread. Destination Technodome can actually become a reality. Thanks to one of my great friends and a member of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, Marlene Pollack, we were put in contact with her cousin Abraham Reichmann, the CEO of the Heathmount Corporation, which is planning Technodome.

After our last conversation in June, the Reichmanns met with Brad Race, secretary and chief of staff to Governor Pataki. After hearing rumors of the possible death of this project, we were very concerned. After a call we placed on Sunday evening to Abe Reichmann we offered to institute a joint teleconference among the three state officials who represent this area, Assemblywomen Pheffer and Cummings and State Senator Malcolm Smith.

Destination Technodome will create a global, year-round, enclosed entertainment destination with 2.7 million square feet of entertainment, sports, leisure, and festive themed retail space on the 302 acre Arverne site. Funding for a project of this size comes from four major sources; private, city, state and federal. The global bankers who have worked with Reichmann in the past have committed themselves to the private portion. Mayor Giuliani and the city administration have backed this plan. The federal government is ready to participate. State officials close to the governor have not yet given their approval for the necessary state funding.

Destination Technodome would generate 19,454 direct and indirect construction jobs; 10,617 direct and indirect permanent jobs form operations; two million additional tourist visits; $92.1 million in annual spending; $210 million in local and state taxes from construction; and $158 million in state and local taxes annually from operations. The state’s contribution of $40 to $45 million would soon be repaid many times over.

The city, which owns the site, has given the developers a limited time to get their plans in order. The cooperation of state officials is needed now.

On Friday we worked the St. Camillus Family Run/Walk, which we have done since its inception. It is a lot of fun working with Mary O’Neil and Pat Tubridy, principal of P.S. 47. When runners come in, we record their numbers. Each year this event gets larger and larger.

It was adorable to watch the youngsters run. Shannon Buffolino, daughter of Barbara Buffolino, president of S.H.A.F.T., came in number one in her age group. Shannon is quite a community activist, attending community meetings with her mother. We look forward to the day she runs for the State Assembly!

Congratulations to Joe Featherston, who does a great job with his crew putting together this event.

We spoke to the owner of the new Crown Chicken on Beach 116 street. He assured us that they would close at 11:30 p.m. and would not be open 24 hours. He is interested in keeping his store and the area around it beautiful and clean. I ate some of the excellent chicken they serve. We urge you to try their food and give them a chance to prove themselves.

A town hall meeting will be held on Sunday afternoon, August 6 at 1:30 p.m. at On Our Way Learning Center, 264 Beach 19 street. Public Advocate Mark Green and the Rockaway Citizen Action Team has organized this meeting to give local residents an opportunity to discuss issues of concern. It is open to the public and all are welcome.

We congratulate Rhia Warren on being selected as superintendent of School District 29. Rhia is a Rockaway resident who started her teaching and administrative career in our community. We know her intelligence, energy and enthusiasm will benefit the children of our neighboring Queens communities.

The Yeshiva of Belle Harbor bazaar was held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Unfortunately, one night was killed by heavy rain, but all in all, money was raised for a good cause.

We are saddened by the loss of Bessie Rosenthal, mother of Karen Rosenthal and grandmother of Jennifer and Dawn and great-grandmother of Ryan and Brandon. Bessie Rosenthal was a strong lady. Only several years ago, she fought back from hear disease. Bessie was well taken care of by her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Jennifer, who are two saints. The way they took care of her is the way all families should. Bessie will be missed by all. We know she will have a place in Heaven smiling down on her family.

Next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday, August 19. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $25 with $12.50 returned. Call my office now for reservations.

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