From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms
Hey people! As noted on the front page, Democratic Mayoral candidate Mark Green was in Rockaway last Sunday. He toured sections of Ocean Village, on Beach 57 Street, and met with community activists to discuss their concerns about the area.
As he moved about the crowd and made his way onto the boardwalk, I saw this as a great opportunity to intercept him. I inched my way between the Deputy Public Advocate, Fred Lewis, and Green’s Press Deputy, Jo Flattery and asked the candidate for a few comments. My request turned into a no-holds barred 25- minute interview with him.
We copped a spot on one of the boardwalk benches amidst press people, his staffers and curious beachgoers. Here are some portions of that interview.
G-man: Welcome to Rockaway Mr. Green. I know you are no stranger to the area. You have been here quite a few times, primarily addressing concerns of our seniors. What brings you here today?
Green: "Well, I love Rockaway. I particularly love the beaches, but I’m here today because I’m scheduled to meet with some of the community leaders and activists. They have some very serious concerns regarding Rockaway, and if I become the next Mayor, I want to make sure that their concerns will be addressed and taken seriously. Rockaway has been ignored for far too long."
G-man: Ignored? Could you elaborate on what you mean by that?
Green: "The Rockaways have always been overlooked by representatives on the state and local level, and this area offers a golden opportunity for economic and cultural development."
G-man: I’m glad you brought that up. For years there has been an outcry for economic development here in Arverne. You may have even heard about the Arverne Urban Renewal Project.
Green: "Yes, I have. Actually, as I look around the area I was wondering why there aren’t more people on the beaches today. It’s a gorgeous day, but then I noticed that there are very few lifeguards in the area. There’s also an absence of concession stands along the boardwalk."
G-man: You are absolutely right.
Green: "This is what I mean when I say there is a golden opportunity here. This prime beach area has lay dormant for years, and that makes no sense to me. There should be hotels, merchant shops and concession stands all along this area. Why there are none is hard to fathom. Booming businesses in this area would create tourism, and that would be an economic shot in the arm for Rockaway."
G-man: Speaking of tourism, transportation is another issue for many residents. You would have to find a way to get these tourists here, besides using that Godforsaken A train. Are you in favor of a ferry service to the Rockaways?
Green: "Absolutely. Look, if it’s going to revitalize business in the area, it’s worth looking into or being implemented."
G-man: Many believe that the city has been divided, in a number of ways, under the Giuliani administration. As you know, there are no African-American candidates in this race, and those votes will prove to be crucial in this election.
Green: "They definitely will have a significant impact, as will other groups."
G-man: There is division in Rockaway as well. For those who live on the East end of Rockaway, which is predominately minority populated, what would you say to make them believe that they are not just putting another politician in office who won’t do anything for them?
Green: "Well, let me say this."
G-man: I’m sorry to cut you off, but you do understand that because of the lack of development in the area for the last 15-20 years, particularly in minority areas, that’s why they feel a sense of distrust?
Green: "Yes, I do. As far as what I would say to the minority community of Rockaway, I would simply say that they should judge me, or any other candidate for that matter, by their deeds instead of their words. If they look at my record as Public Advocate, they will see that I have been fighting for the rights of all people for a very long time. That’s what I want them to look at first and foremost."
G-man: I get the impression that your campaign is about bringing people together, unlike the Mayor. Is that a correct assumption?
Green: "Yes. Don’t get me wrong. I think the Mayor has done some good things for the city, but the one area in which he has failed is in bringing communities together. When you’re an elected official, you have to be willing to go into every community, and he has refused to do that. You have to have sensitivity and compassion. The Mayor of New York City should not receive jeers in most of the areas he travels to."
G-man: Okay, let’s bring it home. Will you have a specific plan for the Rockaways if elected Mayor?
Green: " If you’re asking me for a specific 10 point plan, I don’t have one. However, I will continue to meet with members of this community and seek to make things better here. If elected Mayor, I will see to it that the Rockaways are no longer ignored or isolated."
With that said, we shook hands and went off in different directions. I have no idea what the final outcome will be in this election, but I will say this about Mark Green. He’s right when he says we need a Mayor that pulls people together. Communities are too fragmented, and the West and East ends of Rockaway are proof of this. See you next week!