2001-08-04 / Columnists

On The Beach… with Beverly Baxter

So, they paid for paradise and put up a parking lot! I was away for a few days, and when I returned, I was aghast and appalled by the front headline in last week's paper announcing the city's attempt to dump at least 2,400 impounded cars at the Riis Park parking lot! In the words of the "G Man", "Hey, people!" are we brain dead! Mon Dieu! I was speaking with my very dear friend, Dr. Geraldine Chapey, who raised the interesting point, "where in this greatnation of ours do you find a Gateway National Park being used as a dumping ground?! Can you imagine if Yositome National Park or the Grand Canyon were used as a dumping ground to impound thousands of cars?! It would never happen!" Geraldine is in fact, so galvanized by the horrible possibility of our seascape being riddled with impounded cars that she is channeling her anger
into action with the announcement of The Committee to Preserve Rockaway, "C.P.R." Dr. Chapey has initiated a signature drive to petition the New York City Corporation Council to reconsider this decision. We urge every resident and business owner on the peninsula to become involved in this petition drive. It is outrageous to think that our beautiful bay front will be changed forever if this proposal becomes a reality. This is precisely why Staten Island has tried for over a hundred years to secede from the city; and all the reason why we should consider the opportunity we already have in the Rockaway City Charter of 1915. It is the opinion of legal experts who have read the Charter that it is still legitimate and valid and can only be overturned by new legislation. If we were to secede, we would have a say in our own future. Staten Island could only threaten secession; and in doing so,they received more services; however, they couldn't be successful because they didn't have a Charter already in place. We do. And we should seriously consider the weight and leverage of the Charter as well as the opportunity we have. We've been used and abused by the city for far too long. Enough is enough! I am appalled and dismayed that Gateway National Park General Superintendent Mark Koenings would even consider the negotiation of such a permit. The notion that we would somehow be the beneficiaries of such a negotiation, in the form of needed revenue to fix up the park, is insulting to the people of Rockaway. Contact Democratic District Leader Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey to become involved in The Committee to Preserve Rockaway; and in preserving the future of Rockaway, I would also urge the community to take a look at the Rockaway City Charter. You may contact John Baxter who has the complete 332 page Charter in his possession or he can give you the proper
file and reference numbers so that you can obtain your own copy.
  As the late John F. Kennedy once stated, and it is perhaps the best definition of optimism I can imagine, "there are those who see things as they are and ask, "why?", I dream things that never were and say, "Why not?!" One does not have to venture too far off the peninsula to look around and imagine what Rockaway could be! Whether it be in neighboring Coney Island, with its newly constructed baseball stadium and new boardwalk, or in the nearby City of Long Beach, with its wonderful restaurants and shops, or in the fishing village of Freeport which has undergone a new look in recent years with many more seafood restaurants and shops along its Nautical Mile. Revitilization is Everywhere! Why not here?!
  I went away recently for a few days to the beautiful island resort of Key West. I had never been there before, therefore I was absolutely amazed with what can be done to a community that is surrounded by water! But that's where any commonality with Rockaway ends! There are Marinas attracting world class boats, there are Five Star Hotels, restaurants, quaint little shops, artisan galleries, and Victorian "Gingerbread" Homes line cobblestone streets. I was completely fascinated by how this tiny little historical island that is connected to mainland Florida by 42 bridges and is a three hour drive to the nearest international airport could have sustained the ravages of its history and flourished despite its remote location, and I wonder what could be here if we could only imagine, and say, "Why not!"

See you on the beach!

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