2001-08-18 / Columnists

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter

It seems that the biggest and most important issue that is eminently to Rockaway is the sewage that is being transported from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn to Rockaway via an underground pipeline under Jamaica Bay. When I spoke to Dave Avrin, Assistant Superintendent of Operations of Jamaica Bay, he told me that the project, which includes construction on the Mall at Riis Park, is in the obvious millions and is part of a much larger Sewage and Utility Project. It seems apparent that raw sewage will be treated and sent back into Jamaica Bay. According to the Chamber of Commerce, there is little need for alarm; however, if this were the case, then why wouldn’t they just expand and update the treatment facility at Floyd Bennett Field instead of spending millions of dollars to drill through Jamaica Bay. It doesn’t make sense.

According to John Baxter, the John Miller housing project that has begun to break ground on Beach 94 Street, has all the earmarks of a low-income housing project. John has sent flyers to each and every homeowner in that area warning them that this may very well be the case. Baxter states, "If the builder has "as-of-right" status on the project and the property is zoned R6, then why would he, Mr. Miller, even need to confer with or get the approval of the Community Board or the Rockaway Beach Civic Association." According to District Manager Jonathon Gaska, the builder doesn’t need the approval of the community to build on the land. That’s very interesting. Are we to believe that John Miller went to the Community Board and the civic association as merely a courtesy? One would think not. According to John Baxter, the project has all the elements of the Wavecrest project on Beach 24 Street. According to Gaska, the "garden apartments" proposed for Beach 94 Street will rent for 1,000 to 1300 dollars a month. Only those earning less than 10,000 dollars a year are eligible. It seems that the taxpayer will be picking up most of this rent. According to Baxter, "the community has every right to be concerned and outraged."

Community Board 9 of Richmond Hill held their "Candidates Night" on Tuesday, August 14 at Villa Russo’s Restaurant in Ozone Park. It was, indeed "Candidates Night"; however, not ALL of the candidates, in this hotly contested city council race were invited; nor were ALL candidates slated to speak. Guess whom I am referring to! John Baxter was not informed of the meeting; but that didn’t stop him from attending and making his presence known and his voice heard! While the meeting was taking place inside, Baxter was outside holding up posters and handing out flyers that read, "What you don’t know WILL hurt you!" He had an audience, alright. Writers from The Daily News were there. Baxter complained that this meeting does not exemplify a Democracy, and that all candidates should be given the right to speak. Members of Community Board 9 were outraged that John was protesting the meeting and they came out and insisted he come in to speak. Each of the candidates in the city council race was given eight minutes to introduce themselves and state their platform. On the agenda were John Seminerio, Joe Addabbo, Chris Jorge, Lew Simon, and Robert Curran, who is running on the Green Party Line. Although Joann Ariola was there for a while, she did not address the audience. Lew Simon ran on and over his eight minutes. Somehow, I’m not surprised; however, apparently, he made a statement about himself being "the only candidate who is not the son of a dead congressman or a political powerbroker." The statement was the height of such bad taste that an angry audience booed Lew off the stage. Lew refused to step down. It was only when someone got up and played a piano to drown him out that he finally quit. John Baxter was the next to speak and thought to himself, "Maybe I should get my guitar! Afterall, this is a musical!" John told me that each candidate boasted his or her accomplishments and pitched promises for the future if they were to be elected. John complained about their supposed "accomplishments" and explained how government has gone astray and away from the people its supposed to serve. He cited a recent city council regarding the closure of token booths around the city. He said that while "300 people showed up to testify, it were the politicians who spoke first and left first without ever hearing the grievances of the people they are employed to serve. "Ever since the Board of Estimate was abolished in August of 1990, the City Council has been the highest form of government in the city. When our forefathers drafted the constitution it was based on the will of the people. Our forefathers listened to what the people wanted. How can the inherent spirit of government be any different today than it was over 200 years ago?" The difference, according to Baxter, is that "our government has become so corrupt and so apathetic toward the constituents they are supposed to represent. Instead, the politicians tell us what we are going to get in our communities whether we like it or not. He continues, " The politicians who attend our meetings should be the last to leave and only after they’ve heard from everyone."

***Get well wishes and prayers to L.A.O.H and parade committee member Kathleen Mulqueen who endured surgery recently and is recuperating at her daughters in Delaware. Godspeed to you Kathleen.

***Happy August 20th Birthday wishes to Brian Cawley!

***I recently celebrated my Birthday at a wonderful restaurant on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood called Zum Stammtisch. You must go there for the most delicious German Cuisine. Try their Goulash soup and Yagaershnitzle…to die for! This was the most special Birthday I’ve had in quite a while. That’s the thing about Birthdays; it’s good to keep having them!

See you….On the Beach!

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