2003-07-18 / Front Page

Parks Commish On Beach Rules: Put It In Writing

By Brian Magoolaghan
Parks Commish On Beach Rules: Put It In Writing

Parks Commish On Beach Rules: Put It In Writing

A week after Rockaway's beach rally became citywide news, Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner, Adrian Benepe said residents who want change should write letters to him and City Councilman Joseph Addabbo.

"Letters that come to my office, pen and paper, make an impression," Benepe said, adding that petitions and form letters are not suitable substitutes. He also said rallies, "publicity gimmicks," and tabloid media coverage will not resolve the issue.

In a conversation with The Wave, Benepe said he speaks to Addabbo, who chairs the city's parks and recreation committee, more than any other city councilperson and has discussed Rockaway's beach rules issue with him at length.

He said there would be no immediate response to the rally or the issues that the Beach 130 Street July Fourth incident raised because quick decisions are often wrong. Benepe indicated that he was interested to see if there was "sustained interest," in change, and said there "could be a silent majority in favor of the [existing] rules."

Benepe said, specifically about the July Fourth party crackdown, that permits are generally denied for that holiday and that the party had a "history of rule breaking and littering."

The Parks Commissioner also added that the "level of enforcement in any city park is up to the authorities," and that it is not his job to "second guess" the police department.

Following last week's highly publicized event, Addabbo said residents should "take the positive from the rally and form a consensus."

To date, his office has recorded less than 500 signatures on petitions that address beach curfew rules-a number too low to spark change along most of the peninsula's Atlantic coastline, he said. But Addabbo is still encouraging feedback.

Local Democratic District Leader and rally organizer Lew Simon said he has 2,000 signatures of people demanding immediate change with regard to curfews, dogs on the boardwalk and unattended property such as beach blankets.

"We're not going to stop until we're heard," Simon said. "If need be, we'll have another rally," he said adding that he may also picket Addabbo's house and challenge Benepe to a public debate.

Benepe called debates "unproductive," but also said, "we are open to change here...we need to have a period of time for feedback." Letters should be mailed to The Arsenal, Central Park, 830 5th Avenue, New York, New York 10021.

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