Setting The Record Straight
Setting The Record Straight
This is to set the record straight about our role with the old schoolyard which is located behind the Peninsula Library and Elegante Pizza.
On April 23, 1999, I set up a meeting with local community civic leaders and Tenant’s Association presidents with the man who had purchased the land, Jonathan Miller. This meeting was held in the boardroom of local attorney Terry Flynn. Among those present were Bobbi Harte, Pat McCurry, Nikki James board members of the Rockaway Beach Civics, James Carman, then president of the Dayton Beach Coop, and Vera Donatein, then president of Bay Towers Tenants.
At this meeting we looked over plans for the construction of Rockaway Park Estates. Almost all of us were skeptical. Mr. Miller said the homes would range from $260,000 to &280,000 per house.
I personally questioned if this would work. Mr. Miller built several model homes which proved a great success. The homes have sold like hotcakes. The people who have purchased the homes are police officers, firefighters, doctors, lawyers, correction officers and professors. These houses came with tax abatements, not subsidies. Absolutely no owner there has accepted Section 8 tenants.
On Tuesday evening, August 7, a lady spoke to me on National Night Out. She identified herself as Ellen Hynes. She asked if I was aware of the fact they were building 92 apartments on Holland Avenue between Beach 92 and Beach 94 streets.
I explained I knew the developer and he did a fine job in Playland. She invited me to rally on Thursday. That day I also received a phone call from Nikki James, Treasurer of the Rockaway Beach Civics. She stated that Jonathan Miller was interested in sitting down with several local representatives to discuss the matter.
The next day I reached out to Ellen to tell her we would have a meeting on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Beach Club. She came with her neighbor, local attorney Jeff Aquilante and Bob Hardt. Also attending were Bobbi Harte, Nikki James, Henry Jefferson, co-President of Rockaway Park Estates and Jonathan Miller.
At this meeting District Manager Gaska said Miler had an as or right to build up to 14 stories on the site. Instead Miller presented a plan to build three story buildings with two bedroom apartments renting for $1,000 to $1,200 per month. There would be no one bedroom apartments. Tenants needed a minimum of $45,000 yearly income to rent based on a loan program Jonathan Miller had entered into.
Miller was asked why he was not building townhouses or two family homes. Miller said he was making an investment for the future. He said if he flipped the property, the same stringent rules would remain in effect to guarantee the loan income requirements.
As a result of the meeting the parties attending seemed to be satisfied. We brought it to the residents of the area. Most seemed to be satisfied. One lady, who wrote a letter, questioned why she wasn’t invited and who chose the people to bring. We reminded her that Ellen Hynes made the invitations.
To accuse me of trying to ruin my neighborhood where I’m born and raised and have taken on slumlords and had guns put to my head by unsavory tenants is totally wrong. By no shape or way will I ever hurt Rockaway. I eat, sleep and think Rockaway and proudly walk the streets of my home community.
We will make sure to hold Mr. Miller’s agreement to the plan and to make sure that good quality tenants are found.
LEW M. SIMON