2003-07-18 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

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

There is still time to go with us this Saturday July 19 to Trump Marina. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $28 with $15 returned. We leave from our headquarters 112-20 Beach Channel Drive.

I am extremely proud of the people of Rockaway. Rockaway people have stood together instead of being divided and conquered. People came out in unity as close to 2,000 people attended our rally to take back our beach and boardwalk.

As I walk from my home in Rockaway Park on the boardwalk to Beach 116th Street, I was very proud to see all my fellow neighbors and Rockawayites on the beach and boardwalk. We were all united for one cause, to take back Rockaway’s beach and boardwalk.

If you are angry and annoyed like I am, we need you to stick together with us. We are currently soliciting signatures on petitions to voice our discontent about rules and regulations on Rockaway beaches and boardwalk. We are requesting the following changes: Residents should be allowed to walk freely on the boardwalk till at least 2 a.m.; require lifeguards to be on duty from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. We also want to swim at our own risk during off hours; we want to leave blankets and beach chairs unattended while we swim or walk the beachfront.

We want to fly a kite and we want our fisherman to be able to fish on the hours when no lifeguard is on or while no one is using the area to swim; we also want to have the right to walk our dog on the boardwalk as long as we clean up after them. We want to ride our bicycles on the boardwalk.

This is the wording that appears on my petition contrary to what Ash Mills said. We never lost focus at our rally. Many, many people have been questioning the double standard that allows beer to be sold from stores on the boardwalk in Coney Island and Brighton Beach. In Central Park at a recent concert people were drinking and then driving their cars.

City Council Speaker A. Gifford Miller gave a party this week at Kingsboro Community College on the beach at which kegs of beer were served. Police Commissioner Kelly attended this event. What is the double standard?

While listening to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe on "Inside City Hall" on Channel (1) we heard him refer to the people of Beach 130 Street as troublemakers. He said they had prior problems. He questioned whether this was really a fundraiser for 9/11. He said that drinking was dangerous in Rockaway because we had a nar-row strip of beach with dangerous
currents. When questioned by the host, Dominic Carter, he admitted
the drownings were not related to alcohol. He said people are cut by
broken glass on the beach, but did
not say any broken bottles were left on Beach 130 Street.

Benepe accused the Daily News of provoking class warfare by reporting that wine is allowed at concerts, but beer is banned in Rockaway. He said that the police enforce the law when there is a long history of public disorder.

On related topics Benepe said he would like to have more lifeguards. He admitted that not all beaches are open at all times. He said swimmers sometimes have to walk to the next bay. He said the Board of Education had dropped swimming, but he did not say what he would do about this problem.

At our rally the following attorneys came to protect our First Amendment rights to speak and petition our government and assemble peacefully. They included Judy Seplow Mackoff, Ira Seplow who offered his services to anyone ticketed or arrested (718) 318-3301. Norman Siegel formerly of the New York Civil Liberties Union came right after losing his mother and sitting shiva. They offered to work pro bono (free of charge) for anyone who has been ticketed or arrested on the boardwalk or beach. Siegel was accompanied by two off duty police officers from 10 Blacks in Law Enforcement, who came to support us and to oppose selective enforcement. Siegel can be reached at (212) 532-7586.

We are glad that Republican District Leaders Eddie O’Hare and Terry Ariola joined us and spoke at our rally. Our fight for our beaches and boardwalk is not a partisan issue. Everyone who lives in the community and uses the beaches understands what we are fighting for. Terry stated "Don’t give up the fight!"

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer was unable to attend but sent a statement of support, which was read at the rally. "As a resident of Rockaway for over 40 years, I have spent countless hours enjoying our beautiful Beaches and Boardwalk. Use of the Beach and Boardwalk are year round activities for Rockawayites. Last year suddenly surfing and fishing were restricted on our beaches because the city interpreted regulations differently for our beaches than for the rest of the State. In 2004 uniform regulations should be in place allowing for surfing and fishing once again in Rockaway. Riding bikes on the boards, strolling along the shore and surfing our waves are not just summertime activities for Rockawayites. We live in a beach community and must be allowed to enjoy our Beaches and Boardwalk with uniform regulations and enforcement.

Lets use the bicycle patrols on the boardwalk and keep Parks Department trucks on the beach. If you agree with me, please be sure to sign the petition. If you would like to have a petition to sign or circulate, call my office at 718 945-1216. The petitions are also available at Sunset Diner, the WAVE office and Bel-Har travel agency.

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