2002-03-23 / Columnists

Simon Says…. From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Simon Says….
From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

After reading my column last week about the Martinez family, I received a phone call from one of the board members of the Graybeards, Rick Horan. Rick asked how I could help the Martinez family. On Tuesday, at the Community Board meeting, he told me they approved $1,000 for replacement of the windows needed in the house. On Saturday he and the Graybeards stepped into action rebuilding the house. I tip my hat to the Graybeards for their love and generosity for helping a family in need.

Spring is finally here. As we are writing our column on Sunday evening there is a threat of snow, ice and rain. Go figure, after a mild winter, a crazy day on its way. On Tuesday afternoon we had a fantastic day at the Breezy Point Golden Age Club Saint Patrick's Day Party. And everyone was wearing their green. The highlight of the day was live entertainment that was provided by the members. The talents that can be found in the Breezy community are superb. Once again, the ham I am, I had to get up and sing one of my usual songs, "You Made Me Love You." I sang with M.C. Josephine McGonigle. We had great fun. What kisses! At the end when she kissed me! WOW! Watch out Joe, you're in trouble. After finishing the song we got up again to sing our theme song, "Ain't No Stopppin' Us Now." Joining me were a number of "Lewettes," including the famous Catherine Hibbits. The corn beef and cabbage dinner was excellent. It was great seeing Renee Lacey and her sister Eileen and Monsignor Connolley who has a wonderful personality and makes you laugh.

On Tuesday evening, for the nth time, Community Board 14 had an informational presentation on Arverne from Benjamin-Beachwood LLC Developers. The purpose was to explain a proposal for the western portion of the Arverne by the Sea. For over 35 years numerous proposals for the development of the old urban renewal area have been introduced to the community board and the community. In 1987, Deputy H.P.D. Commissioner Jim Lima introduced a plan to the Oceanview Associates for 10,000 market rate units consisting of many high rises.

In the late 1990's there was a dream for Rockaway called Destination Technodome called by some Disneyland North. Technodome was a dream of something positive which would have created over 29,000 living wage jobs. Once again, Deputy H.P.D. Commissioner Jim Lima introduced a new proposal. The first part would include 2,300 market rate units with an area designated for commercial and recreational use. They mentioned that they could build a new subway station on Beach 67th Street and an 800 seat charter school. There was no mention of any other needed schools. With District 27 at 127% capacity, I question where we will put these extra children and why we are not discussing these desperately needed new schools. I also mentioned that there was a desperate need to improve transportation. We reminded them that the Rockaway Beach line could be reopened so residents could get to Manhattan for one token in 32 minutes. We also need a moderately priced and subsidized ferry. We also reminded them that we have the highest rate of unemployment at 28%. We always ask if the jobs and services the community needs will be provided with a prevailing living wage as well as union jobs. It was apparent that when a question was asked about union jobs the developers seemed to be committed to non-union workers. It is important that local workers get prevailing wages and become apprentices to be trained for union membership. We also did not understand why the recreation center would not be built until after all the housing was completed. Stay Tuned. We hope in early May to have Deputy H.P.D. Commissioner Jim Lima and the developers speak at our club so that you will have a chance to hear them and ask questions.

On Wednesday afternoon we donated a bus to attend and speak out at the public hearing on the proposed new New York State Senate and Assembly line. Bernice Cutler presented statements for the records from numerous residents of Far Rockaway and Bayswater and she spoke eloquently about the need for effective representation for all of Rockaway as a single assembly district.

Kerry Harris, President of Bay Towers Tenants Association urged the task force on reapportionment to help all residents of Rockaway to work together in a single district. Sara Berger, President of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, told how she grew up in the west end of Rockaway, went to school in the east end and considers all of Rockaway her community.

Norman Silverman urged the task force to follow the Supreme Court decision on one man, one vote, and make senate districts of equal population so that control of the State Senate would not remain with one party for the next ten years.

Rochelle Ginis of the Local 1199 Political Action Committee told how helpful Senator Malcolm Smith had been and how important it was to keep Rockaway in his district. I personally made it clear that we wanted to keep Malcolm Smith as our State Senator. We have a good working relationship and need Malcolm's leadership to help us get the railroad and the economic development we need.

On Friday evening we attended the retirement party honoring 1st Deputy D.O.T. Commissioner Anthony J. Fasulo for his 40 years of public service. The dinner was held at the beautiful Terrace on the Park where 1100 people paid tribute to a man who can be considered the "best of the best." The Commissioner received numerous gifts, proclamations and major accolades. As Democratic District Leader, I personally purchased and presented a beautiful plaque in appreciation for being there when we needed him. The love that was in the room that night definitely showed that Tony was appreciated. He definitely will be a hard act to follow. We wish him success in his future endeavors.

Our next Atlantic City trip to the Trump Marina will be on Saturday, April 13th. We will leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8:00 a.m. The cost is $25 with $16 returned. Call my office, 945-1216, for reservations.

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