2002-05-25 / 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

We mourn the loss of "Mr. Rockaway," Mario Russo. Among the many activities Mario enjoyed, Dancing Under The Stars was his favorite. We understand his name will be remembered under the Dancing Under The Stars Program.

We’d like to congratulate Maegen Marie Reed, daughter of Danny and Patricia Reed, on making her First Holy Communion on May 11 at St. Camillus Church. We had the pleasure and honor of being invited to this joyous event. We had a great time and were welcomed like one of the family. Proud grandparents Pat and Bridget Nee were excited over their granddaughter’s blessed occasion.

We are very proud to announce that the New York City Department of Transportation has agreed to mill and pave Beach 100th Street from the corner of St. Camillus to the end of Springman Hall.

In the summer of 1996, sewers and street paving were completed near St. Camillus. It had come to my attention that a major ponding condition has been occurring from Springman Hall to the middle of the block. We recently confirmed that in the next couple of weeks, as we are writing, DOT will correct this problem. We are always available to assist the churches and synagogues in our community.

We were shocked on Tuesday afternoon when we received a call that Derech Emunoh was burning. I was driving to the scene when I noticed the flames coming from the Shul, my heart began to race and the tears started to come from my eyes. Since 1987, as a member of the All Rockaway Planning Council, we spoke for and lobbied that Derech Emunoh would continue to exist when Arverne was rebuilt. We served on a committee to try to landmark the synagogue and protect it.

We testified in front of the City Planning Commission and the Board of Estimates in August of 1990 and reminded members of the importance of saving this important landmark.

Just 3 weeks ago, Benjamin Beechwood LLC addressed our democratic club. Peter G. Florey, Vice President of Benjamin Development Corporation expressed his strong commitment to renovate and keep the Shul alive. My ears perked up and I began to wonder when I heard that the major commercial hub of the development would run from the Beach 67 Street subway station to the ocean and include Derech Emunoh. Anybody with a little common sense realizes the value of this ocean front property. We were quite excited that the survival of Derech Emunoh was written in stone in the Arverne Planning.

Being a skeptic and always questioning why and demanding answers on why Arverne has not been developed for over 35 years, we sit and wonder, could the fire have been caused by arson or by an act of anti-Semitism.

With all due respect to the fire marshal, which stated the fire was caused by electricity, we question whether someone could have gotten in and caused an electrical fire. Could a small amount of flammable substance not be noticed after the fire was brought under control?

Just four years ago, in September, somebody cried wolf, about the Neponsit Healthcare Center. The bricks are falling off the building and it is about to collapse. Have you gone by recently. Guess what? The buildings are still standing.

Over a year ago an independent engineer stated that it would take only $600,000 for routine repairs; not $60 million as stated. As many of us on this peninsula know, brick buildings facing the ocean must be repaired frequently. In 1998 when the Neponsit Healthcare Center was closed, an order was given in the morning by then Queens Building Commissioner, James Leonard, to demolish the buildings immediately. He was later indicted for taking bribes. We continue to question the validity of his order.

You don’t have to be an engineer to know the truth! When we were made aware of the fact that the demolishing of Derech Emunoh was scheduled for 6:00 a.m. we began to question like déjà vu. Was this another Neponsit?

It’s amazing how a building that could be knocked down and cleared in such a short time when there are many structures in this city that have been declared unsafe and have been still standing for years.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s my mom, many of her friends and my left and right arm, Maryann Morgan, enjoyed numerous Passovers with the Derech Emunoh family, which was led by Rabbi Cohen.

We would like to congratulate the President of the Shul, Robert Wein, Vice President Jonathan Siegel, Second Vice President Joyce Ashe, and members of the board and congregation for keeping the synagogue open and available to all.

We would like to tip our hat to Joyce Ashe who has spent numerous days collecting treasures from the community for the flea markets, which help keep the synagogue running. We have reached out to the developers who have stated that the Shul would be in the development and I offered to do whatever I can to make this possible.

On Tuesday evening, we attended the Community Board 14 monthly meeting. We were shocked by the announcement by Jonathan Gaska that Chair Rosemary Murray was stepping down. Rosemary who recently retired from her job said that after eight years on the Chair she would like to have some time to travel and be with her family. Rosemary Murray was an exemplary Chair, one who saw the Peninsula from the Nassau line to Breezy Point and Broad Channel as one community. She was always an advocate for all regardless of race, religion or creed. We wish to extend our sincere thanks for all you’ve done for this community. You shoes will be very hard to fill. We wish you the best. We love you, may God bless you and keep you.

Our next Atlantic City trip to Trump Marina will be on Saturday, June 15th. We leave at 5:30 P.M. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $25 with $15 returned. We have eight hours for enjoyment. For reservations for the Trump Marina trip call my office at 718-945-1216.

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