2002-05-11 / Editorial/Opinion

Perhaps, The Problem Lies In The Process

Perhaps, The Problem Lies In The Process

The battle over the plan to move a local firehouse from Beach 59 Street (south of the freeway) to a site on Beach 48 Street (north of the freeway) has become contentious when there was never any reason for it to become so. On the face of it, the plan is untenable. The old site is right next to Ocean Village, a sprawling housing complex and is only blocks from the planned and approved Arverne By The Sea project that will one day house six thousand people or more. The new site is further away from both the housing complex and the new homes. It is across the street from a major Green Bus depot, nearby the hospital and several nursing homes. The present site affords an easy east-west access on a little-used road. The new site sits nearby busy Beach Channel Drive. The question in our minds is not whether the site should be moved, but rather, why was the new site ever approved in the first place. That takes us back to the community board. The community boards are political animals, designed to insulate elected politicians such as the borough president and the members of the state legislature from the public. The boards are made up of people who are selected, not elected. They are beholden to the politicians who selected them. Over the past dozen years, a number of members who bucked the power structure were not reappointed when their terms were up. Others were coerced to vote a certain way in order to keep their seats. Many of the members are on the community board simply to protect their home areas from incursion. They approved the Beach 48 Street site for the combination fire-EMS station with hardly a whimper. Because they approved it, so did the Borough Board and then, so did the Borough President. Now it is up to the City Council. A subcommittee of that council will meet next week. That subcommittee will then report to the full Land Use Committee headed by Councilmember Melinda Katz. That committee is Rockaway's final appeal. Joe Addabbo opposes the move. We have yet to hear from James Sanders on the issue. The council, however, should kill the plan. A new station should be built at Beach 59 Street. Unfortunately, the members of Community Board 14 should have known that in the first place. Perhaps, the problem is not in a bureaucratic agency forcing something on Rockaway, but the members of a local board that does not care much but for their own communities. In any case, it is imperative that residents show up at city hall on May 14 for the 11 a.m. subcommittee hearing. It is time that the city knows that the Rockaway community cares, even if some members of the community board do not.

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