2003-08-15 / Letters


Families Need Closure
Dear Editor;
Letters Families Need Closure

Families Need Closure

Dear Editor;

I am writing in response to the editorial from August 8, 2003 in regards to a memorial for Flight 587.

My father in law was a passenger on Flight 587.  He was on his way to visit some of his family in the Dominican Republic, a place he loved so much.  Since his death his family has yet to find closure in regards to his passing.

My wife, my mother-in-law, one sister-in-law and two brothers-in-law live in New York, and I have 3 sisters-in- laws who live in the Dominican Republic.  They don’t have a place to go to pray and to reflect on the life of their father and others who passed on.  It is necessary.

We did go to the memorial service at Riis Park last November. Even though the memorial was short and simple it was something and helped my family to grieve and to remember those who passed.

Since then very little has happened in regards to Flight 587.  We are still waiting for results from the NTSB investigation and are growing somewhat impatient.  The families need to know what happened, as does the general public.  It is important that our leaders especially Congressman Weiner and Senators Clinton and Schumer put pressure on the NTSB to file their report.  We need closure.  Closure is an important part of the grieving process.  Grief dose not go away without such.

A small memorial spot is necessary to begin this closure as well.  As the 2nd anniversary of the crash of Flight 587 draws ever closer it is necessary that something be in place or in the planning stages before this day happens.  It will mean a great deal to the family and future generations that this happen as soon as possible.  I would be more than willing to get involved in the planning of such.
We thank the people of the Rockaways and especially The Wave for their support of the families of Flight 587 and their continued pursuit of the truth in regard to what happened on Flight 587.

                    BRIAN WALSH

Arverne By The Sea

Dear Editor,

I would like to make some corrections and comments to the 8/8/03 article by Elizabeth Roth about the community board vote on the Arverne Urban Renewal Area.

First of all, my last name has only two "a’s", not three. One of them should be an "e". If you peak at the end of this letter you can figure out which one.

Secondly, Zandra Myers and I co-Chair the CB 14 Urban Renewal Committee.

Third, as to the density of the project, it is 50% of the density approved more than a decade ago: less than 4,000 apartments on more than 200 acres are hardly in the big deal category. One must wonder if the complaint about density is really just a polite way to complain about shifting demographics and ethnic politics.

This plan has been under active consideration and discussion for almost eight years, most of those who react to it with surprise have been uninvolved in local civic issues for more than a decade.

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, rumors about political influence at the community board are greatly exaggerated. I realize this is a long shot, but is it possible that most members of the community board are simply better informed than people whose only information on the subject is derived from the pages of your newspaper? Each member of the community board was mailed the 38-page executive summary of the Environmental Impact Study. None of the issues discussed in that executive summary have been discussed in the pages of The Wave.

Regarding complaints by some board members that they were not informed of the recent committee meetings, that is simply false. There were four committee meetings in July, they were all announced at the same time, and attendance at the meetings increased as we got closer to the final vote. Having only half of a committee present for a vote is very common, and completely legal. The committee voted 6-2 in favor of the project subject to eight conditions. The community board added a ninth condition and voted to approve 29-5 with nine abstentions. This was not a close vote.

You printed every accusation of every sore loser you could find, yet you gave no space to an adequate rebuttal. Your article reeks of sour grapes from people who failed to persuade a majority of the board to agree with them. Unfortunately, those who claim to champion the democratic process often resort to attacking it when the majority votes against them.




Duane Reade Site

The following letter was sent to Helen Farr, the chair for the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminsitration.

Dear Helen:

As you know, I have spent a great deal of time over the past several months attempting to get some answers about how a new Duane Reade building could possibly have been built on Beach 116 Street in Rockaway Park Queens NY, over a right of way on a mapped city street. From the moment the building started to emerge out of the ground, it seemed oddly out of place. So, I started to investigate.

I got the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, which led me to New York State’s Coastal Zone Management Program, which led me to New York City’s New Waterfront Revitalization Program. I learned that The Rockaways are in a Coastal Zone Boundary and are designated as a Special Natural Waterfront Area. Jamaica Bay is also a Marine Protected Area under Executive Order #13158, signed into law June 4, 2001, by President George W. Bush. I also learned that the laws, regulations, and programs are designed to work together to maintain and expand public access and visual corridors to the waterways and to protect against their diminishment. The more I learned, the more out of place the Duane Reade building seemed to me, constructed as it was, on the coast of Jamaica Bay, on top of a public right of way to a previously existing mapped pier, with it’s parking lot beside a mapped park. The Duane Reade Project cannot be certified consistent with the Coastal Management Public Access Policies 19 & 20 and Development Policies 1,2 & 6 and should not have been approved by the City and State.

As a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of New York, I travel around quite a bit, especially in the coastal areas of southern Queens and Brooklyn. After getting involved with the Duane Reade building, my eyes seem to catch certain things I would never have paid any attention to or at least paid less attention to in the past. I have previously reported some of my findings to you, but I continue to find additional examples of waterfront infringement on a regular basis. Most recently, I was dismayed to discover numerous visual corridor and public access violations in Broad Channel, Queens, and Bergen Beach in Brooklyn, and I understand that there are plans in the works to expand the Kings Plaza shopping mall for several blocks along the waterfront on Avenue U.

Only the other day, I noticed a new building nearly completing construction at the end of Brigham Street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, blocking the visual corridor to the water. I don’t know if there was a mapped right of way to the water in that area, but I cannot see how such construction can be in compliance with City, State, or Federal rules and regulations regarding the waterfront. Honestly, I am seeking to understand better.

Yesterday, I received a letter from Vance Barr representing the State Coastal Zone Management Program. I cannot understand why the letter was written with such a different outlook from my interpretation of the law. I need you, Helen, please to clarify a few things. A portion of Mr. Barr’s letter suggests that the State of New York is not responsible for the Duane Reade building because there is no direct federal funding involved. He claims the City Planning Commission is responsible. How does that fit in with what I have been reading where the laws clearly state that the City, State, and Federal Government are acting as partners to advance the goals and objectives of the CZMA?

The shifting of blame is not going to solve anything in this matter since all three agencies share the responsibility according to all the rules and regulations I have read pursuant to relevant federal laws under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements, the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) and the City Quality Environ­mental (CEQR) reviews.

One of the priorities of the CZMA is for the protection and enhancement of existing Public Access to the Coastal Recreational Areas, which would be Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean on the Rockaway Peninsula. I have read the City, State, and Federal Gov­ern­ments’ Consistency and Assess­ment Forms. It is quite clear in my mind that any of the locations mentioned above and locations previously mentioned to you do not conform to the intentions behind the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. All your literature encourages public participation to ensure that the rules and regulations are followed, and without public participation it would be impossible to implement all of those rules and regulations, my participation should shore up your efforts.

I cannot understand how these buildings can be erected when they seem so clearly to violate the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and the State and City programs designed to ensure compliance with this Act. Perhaps I am completely misinterpreting these regulations and programs. If I am, I would appreciate be­ing shown the error of my ways. If not, I would appreciate some advice on where I can turn to correct the errors that enabled these violations in the first place.

I am asking you, once again, to come to Rockaway and take a look at what I have been writing about while there’s still a little water left to look at. There are serious issues at stake that need to be addressed. As I have mentioned previously, the value of my property at 160 Beach 116 Street has been diminished by the Duane Reade building, and I do not intend to stop my letter writing until someone is held accountable, or I am proven wrong. Can you help me reach either end? Thank you for your time and consideration of this request.


Trees Are Lifting Sidewalks

To the Editor:

I’d like to make one correction regarding your Beachcomber blurb about my concerns with the hybrid pear trees and, if I may, add a few additional comments.

The trees that were removed were not London Pines; they were London Plane trees, commonly called Syca­mores.

Most of the London Plane trees were removed because, we were told, "they will lift the new sidewalks" and the replacement trees (the pear trees), "will not affect the (adjacent) sidewalk." Now, thirteen years later, of the twenty hybrid pears on the 400 block of Beach 128 Street, seventeen are lifting from one to three sidewalk flags! Of the remaining Sycamores, not one is lifting the flags adjacent to them, and of the other tree species only two are affecting the sidewalk. One has only to walk the streets of Belle Harbor to see that over 90% of the pear trees are elevating sidewalk flags.

I’m not a tree expert, but my observations have convinced me that these pear trees have three major faults: shallow roots, dense foliage, and an unusual primary branch pattern with brittle wood. It is the latter two faults that, I believe, have resulted in seven primary branch systems falling from four trees that I know of in the last three years. Three of the incidents have occurred within the last three weeks: two on Beach 128 and one on Beach 129 Street. Of these three I understand that in the B129th street case someone was slightly injured;  in another, a car escaped major damage and one-half of the street was blocked (actually two primary branches severed at the same time); and a sidewalk was blocked in the third incident.

The pear trees have never been pruned since they were planted in 1993, and they will not be in the foreseeable future, as the Parks Dept. (The Queens Forestry Office is the one to call for pruning, but don’t bother.) does not have the resources; in view of this there is sure to be other incidents where primary branch systems will sever from the trunks and fall. As for the sidewalk elevation, it is the DOT’s responsibility to repair the sidewalk if it can be shown that the (city) pear tree is responsible and no other damage is discernible (remember, elevated sidewalks crack and this will void your legitimate request for the city to do the repairing — take photographs for documentation). Based on my observations it is more than a coincidence that over 90% of sidewalks adjacent to these trees are elevated.

Of course, one can have the tree pruned privately, at his/hers own expense, but the person performing the service must obtain a permit to do so otherwise a fine is possible.

What all this boils down to is first, the fact that the person or persons who chose the hybrid pear (although beautiful when it flowers in the spring) as a street tree had as much knowledge about its characteristics as a dead termite and, secondly, it’s only a matter of time before property will be damaged or, worse, someone will be seriously injured by one of these trees.

At this point I would  like to thank Sandy Doreemus of Joe Adabbo’s office for her immediate help in having the huge branches removed from in front of my and my neighbor’s houses after a week and a half of calls to the Queens Forestry Office.


Need Help From Council

Dear: Editor

Local residents who spoke at the public hearing and the Housing and Urban renewal Committee of Board 14 raised a number of issues that the developers and the city have ignored. They included traffic jams at the Crossbay Bridge, lack of access to beach and boardwalk and out of town non-union construction labor.

Mass transit and public education are two significant areas the city, the developers and the community board have failed to address. In 1998 the Rockaway community and Board 14 clearly spoke out for improved transit to midtown Manhattan by reopening the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. Prospective Arverne homeowners can get to Long Beach and other Long Island communities faster than they can get to Rockaway. Why buy here?

All Rockaway elementary schools adjacent to the Arverne area, the three Rockaway middle schools and two high schools are low performing. Many local residents, including community leaders, have arranged for their children to travel to schools outside of Rockaway or have moved their families out of the community they love. How can we expect homebuyers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy homes here?

By approving the Draft Environ­ment Impact Statement for the Arv­erne Urban Renewal Area Com­munity Board 14 missed an opportunity to get written commitments from city officials for needed improvements on the Rockaway peninsula. Those who followed Board 14’s approval of the Arverne plan with conditions in 1989 watched the City Planning Commission and the Board of Estimate ignore the conditions attach­ed to the approval.

Community Boards 9 and 10 found that conditions attached to their approval of the Van Wyck light rail were ignored by the Planning Com­mission and the City Council. The only way to get the attention of higher authorities is to reject the proposal while listing the changes we require.

The last serious hurdle for approval of this flawed development plan is the City Council members, James San­ders Jr. and Joseph Addabbo must find a way to get all concerned city agencies to agree to improve our mass transit and public education so that new residents and old residents can get the quality of services we deserve.

Our City Council members will have to use all their skills and connections to get the city administration to pay attention to our needs. With the help of community groups and the developers they must not fail.


The Problem Is John Baxter

Dear Editor,

I have been living in Rockaway Park for approximately two years and have consistently read and heard about the community’s outrage over the blight of the Baxter Hotel and its residents. Well, I am a resident of the Baxter Hotel and am not "blight."

How did I end up at Baxter’s? It’s simple. I’m living on a fixed income (SSD) and was evicted from my rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn by a greedy landlord. I came out to Belle Harbor to stay at an aunt’s (Lydia Mitchell), who then proceeded to kick me out on the street. Given the economic realities of Baxter’s are just ordinary working people, who, for whatever reason, find themselves in a similar situation.

The problem is not the Baxter Hotel, nor its residents. The problem is John Baxter. For many people, the Baxter Hotel and other S.R.O.’s, are the difference between having a roof over your head or living on the street. In my opinion, ownership of such a place comes with a responsibility. However, John Baxter fails to see that responsibility and is just milking the place for every penny he can squeeze out of it.

There is no staff, per se. The place is rife with mold, mildew, roaches, mice and God only knows what else. It’s not properly weatherized. During the winter, the rooms are freezing. With all the windows shut tight, there was actually a breeze in my room! During the summer it’s a hot box. The only person who’s allowed an air conditioner: John Baxter. The bathrooms are filthy. The toilets are always backed up. There are leaks everywhere. Ceilings have collapsed on more than one occasion. The door locks are woefully inadequate. The room lighting consists of a bulb sticking out of the wall. Outlets are inadequate. It goes on…

More importantly, John Baxter has taken liberties with my existence that is simply unconstitutional. He and his trusty assistant, John Doyle, took it upon themselves to relocate me to another room. Without my knowledge or consent. My personal belongings were gone through with a fine-toothed comb and valuable possessions are "missing." My room has been broken into and things have disappeared. Mr. Baxter has slandered my reputation and opened my mail – my bank statement. These are just the things that I’m aware of. Now, I may have fallen on hard times, but I’m not deaf, dumb, and blind. I’ve had the police here on numerous occasions. The net result: the police are more concerned with giving summonses to firemen with beer cans in their hands and Mr. Baxter is evicting me for no stated reason whatsoever. And yes, the judge actually bought it! It makes you wonder though. How many other residents have suffered similar atrocities and did or said nothing, fearing retribution from the well-connected Mr. John Baxter. Maybe The Wave would like to investigate.

Now, here’s the really, really, really good part. Mr. Baxter recently opened a real estate office on premises. It’s called Garden Spot Realty, as Mr. Baxter considers the Rockaways to be the garden spot of NYC. Sounds good right? Well, on the sidewalk in front of the Baxter Hotel, directly under the word "garden" on the business sign, is a hand made, wood planter. What’s growing in said planter? Weeds. Period. Need I say more?

Yes, there is a blight on this community. And if the people of the Rockaways are really outraged, then I direct your own rage at the source: Mr. John Baxter. I am.


Joe, Help Us!

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to Kevin Boyle on his article "Big Brother On The Beach," 8/1/03 in The Wave. You’re right on target.

On a recent weekend, my husband and I were strolling on the boardwalk. As we approached 116 Street, I went over to a precinct 100 Lieute­nant and his police companion and asked "Why is there such a strong presence of police officers here?"

He looked at me very strangely and responded, "They’re doing their job." Jim and I watched the cops on the sand with their summons books, checking coolers and harassing beachgoers. As we walked toward Surfside, we observed the Lieutenant and his companion officer on a quad with binoculars. We sat on a nearby bench to listen to the insane conversation between the Lieutenant and his back-up team on the sand. It was evident that the twosome were observing a group of young adults. The Lieutenant, on his walkie-talkie, was informing his team, "It looks like they’re drinking from red cups. Go past them, but don’t surprise them."

Within minutes, a quad passed the young adults as well as a police van. They looked frustrated since a big burly guy was sitting on the cooler and the cops couldn’t figure out what was in the red cups – soda, beer, wine or water. Since all the male adults were big guys, the cops kept going back and forth, passing their blanket while the Lieutenant, with binoculars was talking to his team. Jim and I walked away after we counted 6 cops on this so-called important pursuit.

That evening, I watched the T.V. news and discovered that an Asian woman had been killed in a Chinese restaurant in Far Rockaway. I reflected, "Lord, where are our priorities on the Rockaway Peninsula harassing beachgoers (precinct 100) or protecting our merchants and hoppers (precinct 101).

Councilman Joe Addabbo, come forward and help stop the harassment on the beach.


Forgot Feynman

Dear: Editor

As a spouse of one born and raised in Rockaway, I was shocked to discover that your 110th Anniversary issue did not even mention Rockaway’s most famous resident, Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics and generally recognized to be a genius second only to Albert Einstein. See, "Genius, The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick" (1992, NYNY). He achieved notoriety for explaining on national TV the cause of the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986—the famous "O-ring" experiment. He graduated from Rockaway HS.


Just For Laughs

Dear Editor,

To take your mind off the rules and regulations of Rockaway Beach. I hope you read the story in Saturday’s news (8/2) about Stalin sending a posse after John Wayne in 1951. I wondered what a posse of Russkies looked like. Did they all have mustaches? Would they allow horses on the Freeways? Do they say "giddy yap" to their horses? Did some of them abandon the posse and become actors. Last of all, "which way’d they go?"


The Betrayal And Silence

I’d like to add my congratulatory message to the many others sent by Rockaway residents.

I taught at Far Rockaway High School for 16 years, and met many Rockaway parents and, of course, hundreds of students. It was good!

I’d like to state in this letter, for all to read, that when I was wrongfully destroyed by the principal, David Gordon, and the silent faculty because I blew the whistle on Mr. Gordon’s order to pass, to change failing grades to passing, I refused to do so, and tried to file a grievance with my union, the UFT, only to find the Union in partnership with the principal.

I deeply appreciate editor Howard Schwach’s willingness to read my book ("The Cannibals At 110 Livingston Street"), to review it, and to write an article decrying what was done to me (4/5/03 issue) when deafening silence was the only help I got, when I sought help.

I will never forget my betrayal, and I will never forgive the silence of colleagues, of the silence from the hundreds of my former students.


Frustrated Over EZ Pass

Dear Editor:

I am writing to complain about the New York E-Z Pass Customer Service. I am frustrated with the run around I have received for over a month as I repeatedly try to enroll in the MTA Rockaway/Broad Channel Resident Plan. I spoke with a representative on July 3, prior to enrolling online. Judy, the customer service representative, told me to enroll I would have to send in a copy of my vehicle registration after I receive the tag. I sent a copy of my registration with my address immediately after receiving my tag on July 10. The copy of my registration was sent back to me with a received stamp from the E-Z Pass office dated July 14 and a letter stating the registration was not enough proof of residence. I would have to send in a copy of a utility bill with current service to my home address. I immediately faxed the copy of my LIPA bill to the correspondence office on July 17, and mailed the hard copy on July 18. On July 24, I called to follow up on my enrollment only to be told by Sandra that no paperwork had been received for me at all. She told me to wait a week and call back to see if I was processed. I called back on August 1, to be told by Katrina that nothing was received from me. Katrina had me fax my paperwork directly to her and she promised to hand my papers to her supervisor to process me immediately. Katrina told me everything would be in place by Monday, August 4. I called on August 4 only to be told I have been pushed to the bottom of the pile to be reviewed. Patricia, the customer service representative, passed me on to her supervisor Natasha who confirmed that everything will be taken care of immediately by either herself or Sonia another manager who will call me to confirm. I did not receive the call from anyone at E-Z Pass. I called back on August 5, to be told by Minault, Saul (customer reps) and Natasha, the manager that the registration needed to be faxed to their office. I faxed the documents immediately and called to follow up and was then told my registration information will be passed on eventually to the processing department. The supervisor, Natasha became very unprofessional on the phone with me and refused to acknowledge if she received the fax with my registration information. Another supervisor, James came to the phone and he asked me to fax my information over and I informed him that I just faxed it to Natasha’s attention. I faxed over all my papers including: my driver’s license, my car registration, my LIPA bill and the letter I received from customer service. I am very dissatisfied with the treatment I have received from the customer service representatives at E-Z Pass they have been very irresponsible in handling my paperwork and uncooperative to my repeated phone calls for assistance in this matter. I hope my letter will alert other Rockaway Residents about the incompetence of some of the E-Z Pass customer service representatives.


Bike Rage On The Road

A man almost maims my friend with his bicycle while we are standing and conversing on the boardwalk on 116 Street at about 12 noon on Sunday. He never stopped to apologize and I voiced my objection to him by saying that he was breaking the law riding his bike between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. His response, you guessed it, the finger and the 4-letter word. I proceeded to tell the two standing police officers, and they said they would give him a warning. He was already 2 blocks away. Spin, spin, and spin.

Now standing next to my friend and me was this person with his bike, telling us how extremely proud he is to be born here in Rockaway and that I should mind my own business and go (4-letter word) myself. Then he tells me to get back on the subway and go home to where I came from. He seemed consumed by this great accomplishment of being born in Rockaway. This attitude of looking down upon outsiders (DFD’s) is be­com­ing contagious. Such a pompous, hostile, retard is no credit to Rock­away. What an embarrassment and a disgrace he is to the people living here.

I have lived and enjoyed my stay here in Rockaway for over 10 years. Our number one concern must be for the safety of all people. The laws must be obeyed and enforced.


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