2003-01-11 / Columnists

Simon Says….

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Welcome to 2003. We hope this New Year will be better than the last. The Good Government Regular Democratic Club would like to invite everyone to join us on our monthly Atlantic City bus trip to Trump Marina this Saturday, January 11. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. We have 8 1/2 hours to enjoy and win big. The cost is $28 with $17 returned in coins. Refreshments served thanks to Rockaway Bagels. Movies are shown on the bus. The next trip will be on Saturday, February 8. Reservations are a must.

This past Thursday evening we had a great education forum at the Good Government Regular Democratic club. Among the major topics discussed was the rezoning of Rockaway schools. School Superintendent Matt Bromme stated that he expected that all Redfern students would be permitted to attend the new PS253, which will be the school closest to their home.

Ginger Smith, education chair for the Rockaway Park Residents and Homeowners, had requested, on behalf of Rockaway Park residents, that PS114 boundaries be down zoned from the West-side Beach 122 Street to the East-side of Beach 117 Street (which falls outside of the School Board's 1½ mile radius zoning plan). Smith asked why a line drawn 30 years ago should continue to split a community and further felt that if a new school were being erected today, the East/West dividing line would never be a consideration by the current Board. Bromme stated that moving the Rockaway Park students out of PS225 would make PS225 underutilized. Smith returned with a statement that the new housing and new developments directly within the 1½-mile radius of PS225 would restore those numbers lost. Bromme went on to say that there was no guarantee the new housing would fill the school's void. Smith felt that the percentages Bromme presented was extremely low and down zoning should indeed be part of the school board's plan on Rockaway re-zoning and would be the healthiest thing that can be done to a community that has been divided by present day boundaries.

I personally questioned the superintendent about the proposed Plan #4 which would cut off the PS114 boundary at Beach 129 Street. We all felt this would not give the proper economic and ethnic balance. The superintendent assures us that legal counsel at the Department of Education would never approve this plan.

A grandmother from Belle Harbor in the audience suggested the down zoning of PS114 to help provide more seats for students from Rockaway Park. She suggested that since students from Breezy Point were already on the bus, they be taken to PS225. I personally would not like to see the Breezy children bused any further than necessary.

The most important thing about community schools is the ability to walk to school and the ability of parents to pick up a child who becomes ill. Children will be able to participate in after school activities and walk home. Parents will be able to volunteer directly with the school more effectively.

The new PS 225 zone would include Bay Towers, Rockaway Park Estates, the new houses near M.S. 180, Dayton West, Surfside, all houses east of Rockaway Beach Boulevard adjacent to PS 225. It would have a good ethnic balance. Superintendent Bromme assured all parents that if their children are currently attending any school they would be permitted to continue through their graduation.

Attention, all homeowners and cooperative apartment owners are now eligible for the STAR tax abatement on your real estate taxes. You may get more information by calling the NYC Department of Finance at 212 361-7660.

To all seniors having a hard time paying for heat and utilities. You may be eligible for HEAP, which pays for part of your fuel or utility bill and for WRAP, which pays for weatherization of your home to reduce heating costs. SCRIE may pay for some rent increases. To get information about these programs call the Department for the Aging at 212 442-1000.

We welcome your membership in the Good Government Regular Democratic club. It costs $25 for a family, $18 single and $12 for seniors and young democrats. Your membership helps keep us open to continue helping the community. We are available at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive every Thursday evening.

There will be another meeting on rezoning on Monday, January 13 at 7 p.m. sharp at M.S. 180. This is your chance to hear all the proposals and have your voice heard. The actual vote on rezoning will take place on Thursday, February 27 at P.S. 43, 160 Beach 29 Street in Far Rockaway. It is very important that all parents and grandparents make their voices heard now. Don't wait until it is too late.

The Rockaway Artists Alliance was well represented at our forum by community activist Christina Jorge and Susan Hartenstein. We would also like to recognize Prof. Edward D. Re R.A. Acting President of the Rockaway Park Homeowners & Residents, Helen Kilgallen, President of PS114 P.A., Charlie and Maureen Meier and Dr. Rosemary Curley of the Belle Harbor Property Owners, Terry Harris, President of the Bay Towers Tenants and Joanne Greenberg of the Rockaway Park Association for their participating in this meeting. We also noted Gerald McCarthy, former principal of PS 114.

We are saddened by the loss of a great friend, one of the best of the best, Michael Gallagher, owner of Gallagher's, which is now the Palm Gardens. He and his lovely wife Nora and wonderful children worked diligently to improve the quality of life in our community. Mike was very active in the Seabreeze Golden Age Club in St. Francis with his wife Nora.

Mike was a happy go lucky man with a smile on his face and kind words to everyone. Although for the last few years he was suffering with cancer, you would never know it because of his kindness, great spirit and heart of gold. It is very hard to lose a loved one especially during the holiday season. We know Mike will be a great angel in God's kingdom in heaven. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family. We love you all.

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