2001-08-11 / Editorial/Opinion

Time For ‘Friends of Gateway’

Time For ‘Friends of Gateway’

Gateway National Park has always been on the periphery of our consciousness. Riis Park is a place used more often by people from Brooklyn than people from Rockaway. Fort Tilden hosts the RMAC concerts every year. Riis Landing might or might not provide a commuter ferry to Manhattan. Lots of public school students go to Floyd Bennett field for hands-on science lessons. The Coast Guard once used its facility and the NYPD continues to use it today. The Rockaway Artist’s Alliance utilizes some of its Fort Tilden buildings. Despite all that, Gateway has not been a major component of the Rockaway community and we have treated it as such. Recently, however, the park and its components have become jarringly real and important. First, it was the commuter ferry that was not a commuter ferry. Then, it was a pool that might not be a pool. Then came the plan to dump 2,400 impounded cars in the park’s parking lot. Most recently comes word that the park service has asked the U.S. Coast guard, which has incrementally abandoned Rockaway in the past few years, to vacate the old Coast Guard Station Rockaway entirely. Why? It’s the money, honey! Gateway badly needs money to revive its crumbling infrastructure. Its funding from the federal budget does not do the job. Perhaps our federal legislators could do a better job in getting funds, but our perception is that they are dancing as fast as they can on this issue. Gateway officials have turned to other sources of funding. Money from NYPD for parking the impounded cars. Money from a planned sports complex in Floyd Bennett Field. Money from restaurants and shops when the Coast Guard pulls out of Riis Landing. We believe, however, that there is another answer. Many of the national parks have "Friend of …" groups that do the fundraising for that particular park. At a recent community meeting to address the impound parking lot problem, Mary Dever and others stood to say that Rockaway will do whatever it can to help raise the money necessary to revitalize Gateway. It is time that we do that. Somebody has to step up to the plate and begin "Friends of Gateway." It is important to the park and it is important to Rockaway.

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