2002-04-27 / 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

Next Thursday Beechwood LLP Developers will present the Arverne-By-The-Sea Plan. This is your chance to find out what will be built and to ask questions and get answers. We invite you all to this informative town hall meeting on Thursday, May 2 at 7:45 p.m. sharp. Bagels, cream cheese and coffee will be served. We meet at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive across from Waldbaum’s.

Last week, the Uniform Firefighters Association (UFA) Queens Delegate Tom DaParma and off duty fireman from Engine 265 discussed the plan to close the firehouse on Beach 59 Street and move it Beach 48 Street where it would share quarters with EMS.

DeParma told us that moving the firehouse would deprive a large area of a ladder service. Ladder trucks rescue victims while engine companies bring in hoses to put out fires. As the firehouse on Beach 92 Street has no ladder company, the nearest ladder would have to come from Beach 116 Street.

The firefighters and their union were not notified about the proposed change. They did not participate in the hearing at Community Board 14. They are now asking for the community and our club to join them at rallies and to contact the Land Use Committee of the City Council to stop the construction of the new Firehouse/EMS Station.

We are also in support of building a new EMS Station. This station is desperately needed. It is very important that EMS have modern facilities.

On Monday evening, we attended the Ad-Hoc Memorial Committee of Community Board 14 regarding the naming of streets and playgrounds. The following persons names have be submitted: 1. John (Jack) P. Fitzgerald, owner of Fitzgerald’s Bar and Grill; 2. Father Francis J. McGee; who served at St. Rose of Lima for many years; 3. Firefighter Stephen P. Russell, hero of 9/11; 4. Rabbi Joseph I Weiss; Rabbi of the West End Temple for over 50 years, referred to as a spiritual leader for all; 5.Firefighter Steve Belson, hero of 9/11; 6. Howard Santa Moré, educator, community activist and civic leader; and 7. McGuire Family, playground where Al and Dick McGuire played.

The New York City Council is fighting the budget cuts proposed by Mayor Bloomberg. They have proposed their own plan, which includes a surcharge on city income tax with the proceeds, devoted to education. District 27 is among the largest and most overcrowded in New York City. We must compete with other districts around the city to get the funds we need. Some progress is being made.

MS 137 in Ozone Park is nearing completion. A school on Park Lane South, as well as a new school on the old Shaaray Tefila site at Nameoke and Central Avenue in Far Rockaway, is being constructed.

In doing further research I reached out to District Superintendent Matt Bromme. He told me a site had been acquired by the Board of Education at Beach 39th Street in Edgemere but no construction money had been obtained. He stated there were no plans for site selections west of Beach 39th Street on the Rockaway Peninsula.

It is important that our tax monies come back to our district where it is needed. At this time District 27 schools run at 129 percent capacity. We must all work together to see that our method gets to those who have the power of the purse.

With 137 schools jobs to be cut in District 27 under the proposed budget we wonder what the future of our schools will be. The cuts include 27 art teachers, 22 staff developers who train teachers, 30 paras who help teachers in the class room, 10 school aides, 12 speech teachers, 3 language coordinators, 11 guidance counselors and others.

The district also loses $615,000 in Per Session money used to pay for after-school programs and $65,000 in per diem funds used to pay for substitutes for absent teachers. About $200,000 for purchasing supplies would also be lost.

How will they ever be able to hire the additional teachers needed for 2002/2003? How will these cuts impact our children? How will we alleviate overcrowding in our classroom? Will our children be affected by the shortage of books and supplies? How will the overcrowding of classes affect discipline and safety?

It is quite apparent that after school activities, which provide supervised education, recreation and sports while parents are still at work will be reduced. We will have latchkey children home alone watching TV, playing videos games or worse.

We are calling upon all parents and neighbors to rally and fight for District 27’s fair share. We need a large mass of people to clearly send a message to the governor and mayor that education is a clear priority.

We would like to hear from you. If you want us to join with you in organizing this mass protest, please call my office. As we write we hear that there is some agreement in Albany providing more money for education. We shall not stop until the budget signs into law guaranteeing every student in our district a first-class education.

Our next Atlantic City trip to the Trump Marina will be on Saturday, May 18th. We will leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8:00 a.m. The cost is $25 with $15 returned. Call my office, 945-1216, for reservations.

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