2000-09-16 / Columnists

Simon Says….

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

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

Local 420 members and other former employees of the Neponsit Home joined with Lew Simon in demanding that the city administration reopen the facility.
Local 420 members and other former employees of the Neponsit Home joined with Lew Simon in demanding that the city administration reopen the facility.

On Friday morning at 11 a.m. we participated in the opening of the Coast Guard ferry docking station at Fort Tilden. Sea Streak America Inc. tested the waters with the ferry service. In collaboration with Gateway Park, they lent a ferry for a trial run for the day.

We had the great pleasure of riding this beautiful boat which took 32 minutes to Pier 11 at the South Street Seaport. The boat traveled at 35 mph. It was good that I had a lot of hairspray on my hair, as the wind on the upper deck was very strong. This ride made everyone on the boat realize the importance of the ferry to the future of the Rockaways.

We would like to point out that Rockaway activist Joe Hartigan who eats, sleeps and thinks about a Rockaway ferry literally has put in thousands of hours in New York and New Jersey reaching out to marine magazines, ferry companies and doing research to make this possible. He is a man who really deserves credit where credit is due.

Congressman Weiner, Gateway General Superintendent Mark Koenings, and Superintendent Billy Garrett announced this great event. A survey is being prepared and will be mailed to area residents in about four weeks. This is part of a feasibility study to determine whether a ferry could be utilized for commutation to Manhattan.

We will also be standing in our Rockaway Park Waldbaum’s asking you to fill out this survey and questionnaire. Waldbaum’s has donated a $250 shopping spree as an added incentive to fill out the survey. One winner will be drawn at random at Waldbaum’s on October 25. The Wave will announce the winner and confirm the shopping spree date in future editions.

Many people have asked what the cost of the ferry ride will be. My honest answer is we have no idea at this time. We are hoping that Congressman Weiner is going to make this a win-win situation by bringing federal subsidies for the ferry.

After leaving this great trip we attended the luncheon of the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW at Father Hession Hall at St. Genevieves. We look forward to this annual event with all the wonderful women and we always win something we can use.

On Saturday afternoon we attended the awards presentation from the Broad Channel Mardi Gras Labor Day parade. It was great to see so many families and children of Broad Channel.

Many of us read an article in Newsday on Friday about the Neponsit Nursing Home. It stated that the $50 million figure given by the Giuliani administration for needed repairs was not correct. The original study by Einhorn, Yaffe and Prescott dated June 19, 1998 estimated that 1.2 million dollars of work was required to maintain the buildings. We kept screaming for an independent engineer the check out the home. While all the elected officials in our community agreed to a park on the site, we stayed the course.

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone vowed to stay the course with us. Public Advocate Mark Green called for a city investigation. Green seemed to have dropped the ball by not giving a specific date for completion of the investigation. Green called for the investigation in November 1998 and got not response.

An independent study was done by Merritt and Harris Inc. of Manhattan dated March 20, 2000. Engineers performed a visual study of the exterior structural conditions at the site from February 22 to February 24 and on March 9, 2000. The three main buildings and one small structure comprised the limits of the survey. Building #1 is the largest of the buildings. It was built in 1914 with additions in 1938 and 1958. Building #2 was built in 1938 with renovations in 1958. Building #3, the power plant and administrative center, was built in 1938. Building #4 is a one story parking garage converted into office space.

The report concludes that buildings #1, #2 and #3 are in fair to good condition. There are several areas of bulging bricks, loose coping stones and deteriorated terra cotta that present safety concerns, but the majority of the deterioration is primarily of maintenance concern. They estimate that $600,000 would be required for the repairs. The report was signed by Harold Grove, principal engineer, and James Sousa, P.E., structural engineer.

Finally finding out the truth as we believed, we are demanding that Dr. Luis Marcos and all those in collusion at HHC and the NYC Department of Buildings either resign, be fired, and maybe even arrested. These filthy liars have the blood of innocent people who died on their hands. For shame on you!

City Council Speaker Peter Vallone has called for Mayor Giuliani to renovate and reopen the Neponsit facility. Sunday marked the second anniversary of this great tragic lie. We marched and rallied and held a candlelight vigil with former employees and Local 420 to remember this tragedy and to fight for reopening this home.

We are saddened by the loss of two loved ones. I have been acquainted with Rae Tatora LaGreca for more than 28 years at the Philip Port Chapter of the American Cancer Society.

Rae served on the board and actively raised funds since the inception of the unit. She was one of the nicest and kindest women I have ever known. She was a woman who definitely earned her wings to be an angel.

We are also saddened by the loss of Joseph J. Nocerino from the Broad Channel community. Joe was a great man who had the ability to make people laugh and smile. He was always available to make people laugh and smile. He was always available to help the BCVFD of which his son is a lieutenant. Unfortunately an aneurysm claimed his untimely death.

We know he also earned his wings and has a special place in heaven.

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