New Budget Brings ‘Goodies’
By Howard Schwach
The New York City budget recently negotiated between Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the City Council holds lots of hope for Rockaway, according to both of the city councilpersons that represent the peninsula and Broad Channel, Joe Addabbo and James Sanders.
"This budget was a win-win for Rockaway," says Addabbo, who represents the west end of the peninsula as well as Broad Channel. "There are lots of things in the budget that will assist the development of Rockaway and make for a better quality of life for its residents."
Sanders, who represents the eastern portion of the peninsula, agrees.
"This is a great budget for Rockaway," he says. "We double-teamed the opposition, and the city council came through and did its part. No one council person could have done it by himself. Together, we did good things."
The budget includes money for a commuter ferry subsidy, insurance for volunteer firefighters and for a skateboard park in Rockaway and baseball fields in Broad Channel.
Both Sanders and Addabbo point to the restoration of the $300 thousand for use as a subsidy for a commuter ferry service from Rockaway to Manhattan as one of their most important victories.
"That money was here and then gone and now it’s back again," says Sanders, pointing to the fact that it was often a tough sell for his colleagues in the council.
"Up until the day before the budget was finalized, we were not sure that we could keep the money for the ferry subsidy in," says Addabbo. "Some of my colleagues thought that it was money for another study. We had to convince them that it was for a much-needed service."
Volunteer services and children were two other items that were high on the lists of both Councilmembers.
Of the ten volunteer fire departments in the city, five of them are in the district represented by Addabbo.
That is why; he says, it is important to him to see the volies come under the Worker’s Compensation law.
Beginning this year, and continuing automatically each year in the future, all members of volunteer fire departments in the city will fall under the act, which provides compensation should they be hurt while responding to an emergency situation.
In the past, Addabbo says, when a volie got hurt, he or she had only personal insurance or the largess of an employer to help.
"We are working to place the volies under the same city insurance that the firefighters have, but that will take some time," Addabbo says. "Meanwhile, this will provide the protection that they need."
Rockaway and Broad Channel will get some recreational venues as well.
While no specific location has yet been designated, Rockaway will get a new skateboard park.
"The perfect spot would be someplace along Shore Front Parkway in the 70’s or the 80’s," says Addabbo. "This is a park that teenagers have been clamoring for."
The Broad Channel community will be able to move ahead with the next phase of development at the old day camp property.
"The Parks Department will get one million dollars to move into the next phase," Addabbo says, pointing out that half of that money comes from the council while the other half comes from Borough President Helen Marshall.
Addabbo points out that both of the Councilmembers have "member item" money as well that will go primarily to "kids, volies and seniors."
"We are really proud of this budget," Addabbo concludes. "James and I worked hard to get Rockaway what it needs to move ahead."