2003-08-29 / Letters



Benepe Is Wrong On Rockaway

Dear Editor:

It seems that Parks Comm. Benepe is painting Rockaway with a very large brush. To tell the truth about the 'Rockaway Bust" as he called it in his Daily News Column, one must compare apples to apples and not watermelons.

First off, no member of the charity event on Beach 130 Street ever applied for a permit for tents, alcohol, barbecues or open flames. They had requested a permit for a D.J. on the beach and were rejected. The D.J. was relocated to a private residence.

Secondly, What illegal event was he talking about, donations and the selling of memorial t-shirts?

Thirdly, No one was drunk or disorderly, so why do the mayor and parks comm. keep bringing up the dangers of drinking and swimming. They also point out the dangers of the Rockaway currents. When was the last time either one of these gentlemen swam in our Rockaway ocean? No one knows the dangers of the ocean better then the Residents of Rockaway, which is why we respect the ocean a little more than others. A very big reason why we have had very few if any local drownings in the past ten years. Every drowning in that time has been non-alcohol related and people who were visiting for the day.

As for the truck loads of trash and broken bottles left behind, I invite the mayor and parks commissioner to join me for a walk on the beach from Bch 123 Street up through Bch. 147th St. any Monday morning. I dare them to find any such trash prob­lem, and if so it is for lack of trash cans!

Last but certainly not least, of the 130 summonses issued in Central
Park for drinking related offenses, how many were issued during the concerts?

I thought so!

It is very important that New Yorkers enjoy themselves at parks and beaches. It is also the city's responsibility to enforce rules. But common sense and discretion also have to come into the mix before the city takes all the fun out of using our parks and beaches.


Doing A Terrific Job

(The following letter was sent to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in response to an article in The Wave.)

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

You asked in a recent Wave article for contact regarding Rockaway Beach.

I think the Parks Department is doing a terrific job keeping our beaches clean and the boardwalk well maintained. Your lifeguards seem to be in pretty good shape and doin' a good job; although thank God, I haven't personally seen any life-saving this year.

On the other hand, some of your strong-arm techniques recently are a bit over the top. I suggest you view, monitor and regulate our beautiful beaches as you do our parks.

In Prospect Park, for instance, Brooklynites enjoy their weekend barbeques and picnics. They air out and enjoy themselves. Why not, Mr. Commissioner, on Rockaway Beach? Certainly, no one approves, condones or should tolerate underage drinking, outright drunkenness nor any blatant abusive language towards others, whether it be in the park oval or Beach 116. Otherwise, though, let them be.

In the park, bike riding is encouraged and obsequious. In fact, Mr. Commissioner, Brooklyn bike clubs work out on the park oval early on weekend mornings, and this is a very good thing! During rush hour, traffic flows through the park and bikes don't...for all other times though, bikers, bladers and pedestrians have free reign of the oval. Why not, Mr. Commissioner, on Rockaway's boardwalk? During the busy beach hours, maybe not, but certainly in the mornings-before 10 a.m.- and in the afternoon and evenings - after 6 p.m.- cycling should be encouraged!

In the park, dogs go unleashed before 9 a.m., and it's proved to be quite popular. Why not, Mr. Commissioner, allow leashed and unleashed dogs on Rockaway's beaches and boardwalks, again, before 9 a.m. and after 7 p.m.?

Prospect Park closes at 1 a.m. Why do you close Rockaway's beaches earlier?

These suggestions Mr. Commissioner shouldn't be considered outlandish, exclusionary or even special, as these are the very guidelines you enforce in your parks.

Lastly, Mr. Commissioner, would you ever expect to read in the local papers that a Hawaiian surfer had been tagged and fined for surfing Oahu's North Shore "after hours" or for being caught with a "flotation device?" Or, for that matter at Sydney's Biondi Beach or on the Durban beaches? You might find those news articles difficult to grasp, just as Rockaway residents find your recent tactics numbingly belligerent. Your recent fining of Rockaway surfers makes a mockery of Rockaway Beach's code of conduct. Your recent fining of swimmers for unattended blankets, etc. is also patently absurd. What could you be thinking here, Mr. Commissioner, other than justifying the number of new park rangers and their motorized dune buggies?

My 91-year-old father fondly recalls- as a kid - swimming on Beach 108 after his evening baseball games, held nightly in those days. What after hours swimmers do today is no different from what their fathers and grandfathers have done for generations. You have grave concerns of beach drownings and who doesn't! May I recommend you attack the problem head on...begin an across the board swimmer education program through the NYC school system, and target the at-risk schools, that is, the schools with large immigrant populations. These kids are unlikely to learn to swim from their fathers and mothers, who are otherwise pre-occupied with the day-to-day struggle.

Thank you Mr. Commissioner, and I hope you will accept my recommendations in the good faith they were offered.

P.S. Please remember, Mr. Commissioner, Rockaway Beach is a gem...a bespeckled seashore resort in America's most densely populated city, an almost unknown feature among the world's great cities. Treasure her, Nourish her, Beautify her!


Good Memories Resurfaced

Dear Editor,

I thoroughly enjoyed receiving the one hundredth and tenth anniversary issue! I spent hours reading and re-reading it immediately upon receiving it - and will again and again!

It was a pleasure to read all stories and to have mine about the Schaub family in Rockaway included. Thanks so much.

Only 10 years old in 1942 when my parents relocated us to Maryland, yet I can still smell the fresh salt air and hear the surf sometimes exploding as it reached the shore. I still feel the ten feet snow drifts in Edgemere, jumping into the soft snows. What good memories resurfaced when reading the issue! I went to St. Mary's School two years and when the school lost the free school bus, Depression years, off to P.S. 106!

I will mail an issue of it to my cousin, whose Dad also relocated his family in 1942, to Connecticut. Both brothers found jobs in the war industry. Sad we had a war, and sad how it uprooted families all over the U.S.A


Thanks Sulik

Dear Editor: 

I would like to publicly thank Liz Sulik, executive director of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce for her assistance in getting the overpass by Beach Channel Drive and Riis Park cleaned up.

Over the past few months, I had been trying to get the area cleaned, but numerous calls to the DOT, Department of Sanitation and Department of Transportation got me nowhere.

Frustrated at the unsightly mess that was building up day after day, and seemingly getting nowhere on my own, I called Liz. 

Over a period of a few months and multiple correspondences to me, she managed to not only get the area cleaned, but to get it on some kind of 'list' ensuring that the under and overpass will be cleaned on a regular basis.

It's a pleasure to drive around and over the overpass and no longer see discarded mattresses and trash.  It's also a great feeling knowing that our executive director really does care.  Not only does she care, but she gets the job done.

Thank you Liz.  Your efforts are greatly appreciated.  I think your efforts have made an indelible mark on our quality of life here in Rockaway.  

Now if we could only do something about those fishermen by the bridge and their litter.

I almost forget to mention that Congressman Anthony Weiner's office was absolutely NO help.

I reached out to them about six or seven times and each time I just got lip service and a generic form letter acknowledging my complaint.  Thanks a lot Weiner.  I'll remember you at election time.


Thanks for a Great Issue

Dear Editor;

First, hearty thanks for the truly marvelous 110th Anniversary Issue of The Wave. It was a tour de force of the highest magnitude. Next thanks also for your personal contribution, your remembrance of six decades in Rockaway and more to come.

The inclusion of my remembrance on p. 18A, and my version of the most significant historical event in the life of my and your hometown, on P. 6A made the issue even more precious to my family and me. I think my grandchildren would be impressed.

The inclusion of pieces by Jean Caplan Fox and Lester Landau brought back many more pleasing memories to me and my sister, now Elsie M. Read of Lakeland FL. We would like to get in touch with these two old friends, with whom we shared time in Rockaway. If you know their addresses and would forward a copy of this letter to reach one, that action would be deeply appreciated. Thank you in advance.


Dunne Was Wrong

Dear Editor,

I'm sad to think that Mary Norris told Dorothy Dunne self-aggrandizing
falsehoods (Wave, August 22, page 62), but truth to tell she did not grow up in Rockaway. Norris is from Cleveland, Ohio, the city responsible for the recent power blackout. Her mother still lives there. Her father, now deceased, was battalion chief in the Cleveland FD. Just thought I'd set the record straight.


Strewn Beer Cans And Filth

Dear Editor

Have the officers of the 100 Precinct been as diligent ticketing the fisherman perched along the bay and Beach Channel Drive for drinking and littering?   Or am I the only one who notices their blatant drinking, strewn beer cans and filth they leave behind?  


Thanks For The Ride

Dear Editor,

  On the evening of 4 /14 /2003, my wife Sandra and I went to Kings Plaza to make a few purchases and enjoy window shopping. We began to notice stores closing their gates, telling shoppers to leave the Plaza without explaining the reason why. Outside, a young man said there was an outage from Canada to Verging. Since we were traveling by public transportation, we saw a mass of people waiting for the Q 35 bus to Far Rockaway, because of the long wait, some patiently, others irritated, we felt there was going to be a mad rush to get on, then a man drove up and said he had room for three people, my wife, another lady and me got in, and we began to converse about the events of the day and other subject matters, he asked where in Rockaway did we wish to go. We felt he had already been so kind, we elected to go as far as 116 the Street. He said he lived on a 149 Street. He refused to take any money for his service and wished us luck. Did I mention he was a past Lottery winner? On behalf of my wife and I and the third party, we wish you many more blessing, God bless you and your family.


Some Questions To Be Answered

Dear Editor;

Three years ago I moved to Rockaway with my family and I love it here. The best part of my day is riding across the Marine Parkway Bridge with Brooklyn (where I lived for forty years), in my rear view mirror. But in the course of three years I have noticed some very strange, perhaps bizarre, behavior.

Maybe some Wave readers can provide me with an explanation. Please don't tell me it's the drinking water.

What rocket scientist designed the parking on 116th street? Considering that Sanitation has no sweeper capable of effectively cleaning inside right angles and humans no longer try to sweep it, didn't they know the whole area would simply be a pigsty? Do the same police who write up surfers also give summonses to litterers?

Why do you get panhandled on the east side of 116 Street, yet not on the west side of the street? Is there an invisible force field in the center? Do the panhandlers not like to walk through the trash?

What's happening with the boarded up hotel on 116th, the one that seems to be owned by the pigeons? Is that a Rockaway landmark designed to prevent property values from rising too high? Do we have a local politician interested in that? Does he raise pigeons?

Duane Reade invests a few million dollars in our community along a stretch of rotting bayfront and completes a splendid building within half a year, yet we can't seem to build a memorial park one twentieth the size in twice the time? Then we excoriate them and a local hotel owner complains that they have devalued his property? Yet, down the road 300-400 feet of prime bayfront, used by no one, is allowed to wash away. Is this not a bit strange?

I know the beach is our most valuable asset. It's why my neighbors and I moved here. What then is this fascination with walking one's dog on the beach, despoiling it, and then bringing one's toddler to play in the very same sand the next day? Why is it easier to get a summons for fishing after dark than for letting your dog foul the beach?

Get together with neighbors and the subject invariably turns to the local high school. My neighbors fear sending their kids there. We send them back to the mainland. How come 3,000 residents haven't surrounded the school, closed it down, and refused to let it re-open until the Mayor (he's now in charge) fixes the problem?

Speaking of kids, how about the local kids, our kids, the ones who used

To play touch football in the St. Francis de Sales empty grass lot on 128. There aren't a lot of places left to play. Oops! The church put a prayer garden smack in the middle of the field and then locked it up. Can someone explain that, please?

Please don't blame me; I'm not looking for an argument, just some rational answers...


Outrage at Peninsula

Dear Editor,

I would like to express my concern in regard to treatment at the emergency room of Peninsula Hospital.  Unfortunately, I had the pleasure firsthand of experiencing the lack of proper care in that facility.  My husband was brought into the emergency room after lacerating an artery in his arm last Friday evening.  At first we were told by the surgical resident in charge that he would be contacting the plastic surgeon (why he would contact a plastic surgeon confused me) and would bring my husband up to the operating room for surgery.  A little while later we were informed that when the surgical resident spoke with the surgeon that the surgeon did not deem it necessary for him to come to the emergency room and that the resident should just stitch my husband's arm and release him.  At that point if anything further happened (swelling or bleeding) I would just bring my husband back for surgery as the surgery could be done within 7 days if necessary.  Now the resident didn't really seem too confident as he was explaining this to me so naturally I didn't feel too comfortable with his assessment, but was assured that it would be fine.  Well, sure enough when the resident went to stitch it up, he could not stop the bleeding and told me that he called the surgeon back and the surgeon would be down in 20 minutes to take care of my husband's arm.  When the surgeon finally got there and took a look at my husband's arm, nothing further was explained to me.  I just overheard the resident looking for the proper tools to do the procedure and he was unable to locate them.  I then heard the resident on the telephone with someone requesting permission to open the operating room, which was locked, in order to get the tools needed.  In the meantime, my husband had been there for over 3 hours already and was still bleeding and in extreme pain.  I could tell that the resident was having a hard time getting his request fulfilled as he had to explain that the surgeon was already there and that the patient had already lost and was continuing to lose a lot of blood.  This made me even more nervous as how can an emergency room, which is supposed to be known for dealing with trauma, not have the proper equipment to handle this situation.  When the resident got off the phone, I asked him whether I should take my husband to another hospital as they were obviously unequipped to handle this situation.  I was told he was working on getting the tools.  So, I didn't know what to do and my mother-in-law came in and it seemed to be that after she mentioned Mr. Levine's name, the tools were there and my husband was finally taken care of.  Thank God he is all right and I will say that the nurses who were working that evening were very nice and informative, however, I am still in shock at the whole situation.  I also wonder why my husband's doctor wasn't contacted upon his arrival as I was told is what should've taken place.  Maybe, this situation would not have been as outrageous had that been done.  I think it is a disgrace that this is what we have to deal with as an emergency room.  I cannot believe that this emergency room does not have the proper equipment or personnel in charge that can handle this type of situation.  I think something needs to be done about this as it is a very important part of a community to have a facility that can deal with such emergencies.


Lighting Up Rockaway

Dear Editor:

On Thursday evening, August 14, 2003, Pastor Donald Ventura, the President of Lighthouse Inc. (a nonprofit community program) and Lenward Terry Smith, the Chief of Operations of the Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps were on their way home. Pastor Ventura was just returning home from the movies with his son. Lenward Terry Smith, a paramedic at Long Island College Hospital, had just concluded a 16-hour tour of duty on his ambulance.

Both members of The Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps had no idea what was about to occur until traffic lights suddenly went out. Lenward Terry Smith warmed up the ambulance and checked the equipment. Pastor Ventura made arrangements for his son to be cared for while he attempted to meet up with the ambulance. Both members finally meant and started listening to the only working means of communication available on the ambulance (a police scanner). They cruised the Rockaways from Nameoke Street to Beach 169 Street. They responded with police to an apartment house, walked up to the fifth floor and stood by while the police had the superintendent open a women's door. Apparently a women called 9-1-1 and complained of a possible heart attack. Once the door was finally opened, no one was home. Later they responded to an elderly man having chest pains, treated and transported him to the hospital. The rest of the night The Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to a variety of other calls including two possible fires. When things became quiet, the crew slowly drove through the different neighbors of the Rockaways with the floodlights on to give some illumination to an otherwise very dark community.


More Dissent On HPD Vote

Dear Editor,

There was the distinct impression that a sufficient number of residents who attended the public hearing were dissatisfied with both the process of informing the public about the plans and the plans themselves - enough - to have the plans returned to HPD by the Community Board for improvements and assurances of responsiveness to complaints. When a local government takes the attitude of voting 'ok anyway' since the city will do it anyway, then why vote at all or why act as just a rubber stamp without defending the peninsula based on the public's complaints at the hearing?

Just to cite some environmental complaints consider the following:

1. The consistency form says there is no need to place the project on the coast and even the Duke Kahanamoku Way dedication to the Father of American surfing at B. 38 Street is demapped! This makes sense only if surfers are ticket blitzed to Nassau County or New Jersey. It also makes sense if tourists are blitzed to Brighton Beach Coney Island. What kind of planning/policy approach is this?

2. Instead of a Claddagh Inn Soup Kitchen/Environmental Center the plan removes it entirely ignoring local needs.

3. The need for a beach to bay park at the eastern end to preserve green open space and wildlife numbers is ignored. The reaction from the former Oceanview proposed 116 acre greenspace to 59 acres (Central park 50 down to 35) is hardly an advance in coastal policy compliance and is simply extinction of wildlife for 'sardine can density urbanization' not recommended for coastal planning.

4. The plans are stingy on compliance with water-dependent and related recreational economic development for tourism and why not an RFIP for an entertainment complex along the boardwalk (the boardwalk which the consistency form language hides and need to plan access to and to the beach. So what is wrong with bringing life back to the boardwalk? Why Parks might just replace beach and boardwalk sentries with lifeguards!

5. The Coastal Erosion Hazard Line is inadequate for the eastern end and with flooding potential resort type planning makes more sense with a 200-400 feet setback there with concrete boardwalk as at O'Donohue Park.

6. Congregation Derech Emunah is mentioned as just a burnt-up building of historical note (the FEIS should correctly name it with mapped suggested replacement site with developer cooperation).

7. Pre-Columbian artifact remains of ancient settlements (now on the ocean floor) should be sorted out of beach cleaning sand sifter material for the Rockaway Museum. Shells can also be sorted too for this purpose.

8. Wetland in the dunes of Arverne are ignored as are various animals like toad, garter snake, possum. Various plants are also not mentioned. Also, the landscraping management of HPD by Sanitation Department HUD (and city funded) bulldozing and alteration impact is not mentioned.

9. Dubos Point is mentioned but not in mosquito control nor interpretive center contexts.

10.If the freeway is closed the heavy truck traffic air pollution problem will intensify and concern with Broad Channel and Seagirt Boulevard future problems came up at the hearing.

11.The capacity for schools to absorb increased numbers of new students certainly is obvious and need more be said about this issue for further study....

Etc., etc., etc.


Bring Bay Back To Life!

Dear Editor,

After reading the truly magnificent 110th Anniversary edition of The Wave from cover to cover for the third time (Savoring my own contributions and those of friends and acquaintances) several seemingly unrelated items therein coalesced as I sat quietly pondering the many beautiful memories it refreshed for me. Such disparate things as the following came to mind...

1. The death of Jamaica Bay, now ongoing.

2. My Dad's statement (back in the 30's) that "The only hope for Jamaica Bay is to re-establish the tidal flow" (Previously supplied by Norton's Creek, long gone).

3. Me rowing our small boat in the street, on the many occasions when the bay and ocean met around 417 Beach 119 Street.

4. A story told to me by my sister Elsie (which I had suggested that she submit for the Anniversary edition, but she didn't); she and her Hunter College friend, Helen Shea, while returning home on stormy day found that the good old L.I.R.R. could not pass through Arverne because the bay and ocean met there. The girls waded West until found by a police car sent to find them by Helen's father, Captain Shea, NYPD.

5. Long time controversy over construction of a huge housing group in Arverne, now seemingly being resolved.

6. Your inclusion in the 110 Anniversary edition of a clipping of an article in 1956, describing a proposal by Robert Moses to construct a canal joining ocean and bay at 40 Street, right in the heart of the new "Arverne By The Sea" (aka Arverne In The Sea sometimes).

I note with interest that Items 1, 2 and 6 above stand out as a way to bring Jamaica Bay back to life, per my Dad and Bob Moses.

I further note, with deep alarm, that the other items above say to me as a retired architect, as follows:

A. Let's be sure to ascertain and verify the frequency of occasions on which the bay and ocean joined on the site.

B. Design all aspects of the project in anticipation of flooding.

Once again, heartfelt thanks to The Wave for the truly great 110 Anniversary edition.

Wouldn't it be great to bring Jamaica Bay back to life? I live in hope...


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