2003-10-03 / Columnists

On The Bayfront

By Elisa Hinken
On The Bayfront By Elisa Hinken

Glad (and much relieved) we didn’t get the brunt of Hurricane Isabel two weeks ago. I’m also glad so many people took serious precautions in our community, including publication in the WAVE of emergency shelters available, should the need have arisen. I couldn’t find that information anywhere else too easily, so I am thankful the WAVE was prepared to share that information with the community.

Unfortunately, we just have to look at Virginia and North Carolina, two areas that were hit hard by Isabel, to see what could have been in store for us. Approximately one million people are still without power. Three serious breaches occurred between Hatteras and Frisco. The breaches sliced Highway 12 to cut off vehicle travel to Hatteras Village. At this time, residents fear one of the breaches will now be known as Hatteras Inlet permanently. These breaches also threaten the intercoastal waterways and the mainland coast of North Carolina.

Fishing access on both the bay and the ocean is still a major issue. I will report further on that in my next column.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share some bits and pieces of interest with our readers.

Trying to juggle a professional career, family, children, civic interests, fishing, this column and sleep has been quite challenging! The sleep part is what usually loses out in the shuffle of things.

This past week, a new $9 million fishing pier at Midland Beach - now Staten Island’s longest pier – was officially opened. The pier, near the foot of Seaview Ave. and Father Capodanno Blvd., stretches 835 feet into Lower New York Bay, giving fishermen a deep-water spot for angling. The new pier features fish-cleaning stations, educational displays, renovated bathrooms and night lighting. Kerry Sullivan, chairman of the Natural Resources Protective Association, called it "the greatest thing that has happened to Staten Island in 40 years."

So, why no investment of this type in Rockaway? We have enough open and available waterfront to choke a horse. It is apparent our Parks and Recreation Department doesn’t want to invest one dollar more than necessary here in Rockaway, to the point of where sites will be closed down due to safety concerns rather than investing in Rockaway’s recreational needs. Even though Rockaway is represented by Councilman Joseph Addabbo, the chair of the New York Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee, whom we would hope represent his constituents by providing viable solutions to our beach access, surfing and fishing venues as well as boardwalk restrictions, we’ve been deceived.

All this does not underscore the wonderful programs the RMAC provides for the Rockaway community. We are very lucky and privileged to have such dedicated volunteers organize themselves and provide such high levels of entertainment and artistic appreciation. Of course, there are other activities of recreational interests, but they are all one-shot deals over the course of the beach season. Now it is September. Where do our kids go to play in a safe, reasonably supervised manner? You don’t see PEPs out there chasing people out of the water anymore, do you?

Now folks, I ask you if it is only me that has the "why me" attitude? Here in Rockaway, for recreational purposes, I have the "why not me" attitude. It’s time for inclusion folks. They city’s money is going every which way but here. The city brought Rockaway to its knees in the 1960’s and the Urban Renewal era, so the city should bear its fair share in restitution. When Playland was alive and kicking, there were cops brought in from all over the place to subsidize the 100 Precinct’s ranks during the summer season.

I challenge the community to put together a parks and recreation coalition. We can organize a levelheaded dialogue with Councilman Addabbo to address the Rockaway-wide waterfront access issues in a non-threatening venue. Apparently the Councilman has never once reached out and initiated such a venue, rather to meet a few, select individuals for a photo opportunity. This is an open invitation. Is the Councilman up to the task? Is the community? If so, e-mail me or contact me through the WAVE and we’ll get something off the ground. Apathy (i.e.: indifference, uncaring) is what keeps Rockaway status quo, which isn’t good. If you’re happy with "status quo", which is what the Councilman and the Parks Commissioner has been saying, then we have nothing to complain about. If you want to be part of a change, contact me at the following e-mail: medmalnursing@msn. com or leave a message for me at the WAVE.

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