2002-06-08 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks and Stones

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

When I received an award from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for supporting the minyan at Derech Emunoh, the recently demolished landmark-able synagogue, it was a happier time. I discovered spiritual roots and rituals and backing for protecting the environment and environmental justice at that place.

Here was an old synagogue that needed ten men to pray (the minyan), surrounded by the Almighty’s "Creation" with a great biodiversity of plants and some wildlife. Just add some residential development, some recreational-economic development- and conservation with an environmental center, and there is balanced development.

In the "Oceanview Plan" at the time, there was merged with it a large waste industry but none of the amenities suggested an interest in the environment. It was a struggle just to keep a 1984 dedication to the father of American surfing, Duke Kahanamoku, at Beach 38 Street mapped into the plan! What balance?

So with fields abounding in migratory birds and butterflies in season and a beach with biodiversity for education and recreation and even food, what a glorious location for spirituality of all denominations to take root!

Well, that is not going to happen if there is the "marching song of consolidated planning" that acts as a stranglehold on democratic approaches and choices! The overview of the last column suggests big doings with road runways and highways just waiting to be merged into "The Plan," but before this in public view is the "Consolidated Plan" of federal grants (HUD Grants) that links Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) projects.

While there is much good if a landowner must try to litigate against Sanitation Department bulldozing that damages the property and violates constitutional rights –with topsoil missing – because grant money for lot cleaning has made it possible by no oversight, then, that is damaging to the Community, not just the landowner!

If (hypothetically) the paramilitary Parks Department beach patrol operation is harassment to promote a gated development to come in Arverne, then this is an extension of this Consolidated Plan (available at City Planning) for Arverne. My nostalgic beach pictures printed in this column were meant to make this point of loss of beach use.

Those who marched in the Memorial Day ceremonies might consider a march against the Consolidated Plan on the beaches of Rockaway in Arverne/Edgemere to support freedom in Rockaway and to modify undemocratic approaches the plan fuels.

There is a NYC Waterfront Park Coalition (program of NY Conservation Education Fund) blueprint available at the League of Conservation Voters that has a Queens section that includes Arverne/ Edgemere. Consolidated and other planning influences limit its imagination and scope for the "Creation" in Rockaway. It’s pathetic but few speak out…………....The blueprint mentions surfing, but not "Duke Kahanomoku Way" Why?

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