2002-11-09 / Columnists

On The Beach…With Beverly Baxter

On The Beach...With Beverly Baxter
And Now....On To The Games!

You could almost hear the pop of the bubbly all the way from the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs as the announcement was made last Saturday night that the city that never sleeps is the United States Olympic Committee's candidate choice city to host the summer 2012 games wherein the world's greatest athletes stand a chance to compete.

Congratulations to the NYC2012 Committee; its Chairman, Deputy NYC Mayor Dan Doctoroff who first conceived of the idea and began implementing the plan nearly six years ago as a private citizen; and to Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor Giuliani, Governor Pataki, and the 123 USOC members who voted in New York's favor.

New York competed with San Francisco; and while that city by the bay made a compelling presentation, it was New York that ultimately won the hearts and minds of the USOC voters. Although the San Francisco committee boasted its beauty and the fact that nearly 400 Olympic athletes live in the bay area, New York was chosen for its international advantage, its most ethnic diversity, its security successes hosting many major events, its status as the financial capital of the world, its cultural institutions, and its proximity to corporations that are IOC sponsors. According to USOC Vice President Paul George, it was that quintessential "can-do" spirit that signifies the spirit of New York."

Although New York has been officially selected, whether or not the games are actually played here has yet to be decided by the International Olympic Committee in 2005. New York is merely one of many world-class international cities that are vying to host the games; and the competition is as fierce and Herculean as perhaps the games itself! Other possible contenders that are expected to submit bids are Paris, Madrid, Moscow, and Rio De Janeiro.  

Although there are many obvious benefits to hosting the games, the acclaim is hardly unanimous. There are many who cite very valid reasons for why the games should not be held here. Many feel that having the Olympics in New York City would be an invitation to terrorists and a target for them to aim at. Others are concerned with its negative impact on an already congested city and transportation system. Still one of the most controversial components of the Olympic X Plan is the one billion dollar Olympic Stadium that is slated to be built on the Hudson River above the west side rail yards. It will be connected to the Javits Center on the south side. The Javits Center is hoping that the stadium would be built on the north side and extend to 42nd Street. The Olympic Stadium would give New York a legacy of a brand new world-class sporting venue where teams like the Jets could play. The Jets have proposed funding for nearly half of the construction costs.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of hosting the summer 2012 games is the potential for Rockaway. The NYC2012 Olympic X Plan places all sporting venues on a "transportation axis" implementing both water and rail transportation. One axis will run from the Bronx along the water and out to venues in Staten Island. The other will run along rail lines from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to the city. Although the NYC 2012 Committee already has its plan in place, if our elected officials lobby and work hard to come up with a feasible plan, then perhaps Rockaway could have a chance at hosting many more of the venues. If we could attract some of the events here, then our long-awaited dreams of Ferry transportation could be realized.

While the plan has the Sailing competition held at a newly constructed Marina at Riis Landing, Rockaway can offer, and benefit, so much more. Our greatest assets are our land, our sand, and that we are surrounded by water! Mon Dieu! Imagine Beach Volleyball being played at a newly created waterfront faux beach in Williamsburg! We have the land for a state-of-the-art Community Center, the space for an Olympic pool at Riis Park, miles of bay front for an extended marina and pier where we could then attract The Regatta and other world-class nautical events, seaside shops and water-sports businesses. Pardon the pun, but one wonders whether our elected officials have had their heads in the sand! Rockaway has such a unique opportunity if the games are ultimately played here.

Our Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer chairs the Tourism Committee, Councilman James Sanders chairs the Economic Development Committee, and Councilman Joseph Addabbo chairs the Parks Committee, the very dynamic Liz Sulik is the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, and we have very talented people who sit on the Community Planning Board. Let's not miss the (Ferry) boat! Otherwise, the best Rockaway has to hope for is hosting the Piping Plover Pentathlon!

Members of the NYC2012 Committee are planning to visit Rockaway again very soon. Their Engineers will be taking a walking tour with John Baxter and myself to assess our potential as a possible venue for more of the events. I will let you know in advance of the scheduled date and time.

See you.... On the Beach!           

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