2003-10-10 / Letters



Doing Us A Favor

Dear Editor:

Last Monday morning, I was standing on the corner of Beach 134 Street awaiting the Carson-Horizon express bus to Manhattan. The bus is supposed to leave 107th St and Rockaway Beach Boulevard at 6:45 a.m., so I arrived at my corner at 6:50 a.m., as I had done on previous mornings. The previous week, the driver came to the corner by car on Monday and Wednesday mornings to inform us that the bus had broken down, and there would be no service. I did not see the driver this Monday morning, and the bus never came. 

So, I called the phone number listed in their advertisement, admittedly in a somewhat annoyed tone of voice (since this was the third time in a week that this had happened), and left a message asking if there would be a bus today and if someone was going to notify the passengers.  I got a voice mail of someone named Michael (no identification of the company), who promptly called me back and told me that I had probably missed the driver. He then proceeded to voice his frustrations about how there weren't enough passengers, how difficult it was to run a business without ridership, and how he couldn't control the fact that the bus broke down. He boasted about the fact that he
rented a mini-bus for a few days last week, losing money in the process, and that the service was more reliable than the consistency of the passengers.  I did not hear an apology for the inconvenience until the very end of the phone call, and, given the tone of his voice and the context of the rest of his lecture, it did not seem sincere. I won't go as far as to say this man was rude, but he certainly did not sound like he was trying to keep a customer.  I hung up the phone almost convinced that this company was doing me a favor and that I wasn't paying for the service.

That being said, as a customer, I feel the following factors may be contributing to the lack of passengers: Price - $5 each way is quite a bit of money to pay for people who are
used to paying the MTA price of $2. Yes, there are many benefits to the bus. It is comfortable, fast and convenient. However, it is still an increase of 150% that a lot of working people and students cannot afford on a daily basis. Try lowering it to $4 (what most public and private
express buses charge from the outer boroughs to Manhattan), or at the very least, provide discounts for multi-trip tickets. Flexibility - I realize it is difficult to work this out with only one bus, but not every commuter in the Rockaway Park/Belle Harbor area follows your schedule. I leave 20 minutes earlier than I normally would in the morning in order to catch the bus. But, it gets me to Lower Manhattan in 35 minutes, and that is definitely a plus.  However, it is not worth it for me to take it home in the evening since it does not
reach Lower Manhattan on the return trip until 5:30-5:45. If I get on
the "A" train in the base of my building, I am halfway home by the time
the bus arrives. Timing / Reliability - the only way good "word-of-mouth" is going to spread is if the service is reliable. I realize this is not intentional
on the company's part, but the only thing passengers are concerned with
is if they can rely on the fact that their ride will be there. Also, you
cannot expect to have full buses immediately. It takes time to establish ridership. Customer Service - Riders will understand if something is out of your control, such as major damage to the bus, as long as it is conveyed in an apologetic tone and you can provide a time-frame as to when the problem will be remedied. That's all the information they need. While I
did have sympathy for this man, I didn't need to hear his frustrations
about lack of ridership, specific repairs that the bus needs, and how he his losing money, almost blaming the people of Rockaway for his woes.

I will give this service another chance because it is worthwhile and I
want to support any comfortable alternatives to the MTA. But this experience did leave me a bit annoyed. It wasn't the fact that the buses didn't show up, but the attitude of the company that I was paying for a service.


Memories Of Rockaway Past

Dear Editor,

In reference to "Pat Remember When (by Pat LaRuffa Coleman, 9/19/03):

What did I know? A smart aleck kid from the Bronx! At twelve I thought when someone said we're going to the beach, I figured we're going up to the roof. We called it the beach - sand - what's that? An ocean - isn't that something in "Moby Dick."

Well it didn't take long for me to eat humble pie as soon as we landed here for our first full season. A love story began that first step into the sand and dip in the ocean and has lasted so far for over fifty years!

Being first generation Irish and very proud of my heritage, I don't think anywhere in the world could you find so many others in your same situation!

The wonderful Irish town (the Dublin House, Sligo House, Leitrum Castle, etc.) with marvelous music, entertainers, dancing and just wonderful great times!

The great basketball games at 108 Street and also on the weekends at Riis. Evening baseball on the beach with the boardwalk being the backstop. Also the fantastic American Legion ballgames at the 149 Street field!

Families after dinner on Wednesday nights heading to St. John's Home to catch the "Peanuts" in concert (three time winners on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour) and then turning around on the boardwalk and face the ocean where the "Schaeffer" barges were setting off fireworks! Schaeffer beer also sponsoring the striped bass contest for surf casters!

I vaguely remember the Chinese laundry on 115 Street, but I always wondered what happened to all those other people on that block that summer we were there! Next to the pool were the Garcia's Gerace's and LaRuffa's, then Mary Holland, the Carberry's (Luke and Sheila Finn), the Healy's, Hickey's Cullens (Bill and Bob), the Corry's (May, Kay, John, Danny and youngest sister), the Lang's, the Curtain family (Frank, Lucretia, Eileen) in whose basement thanks to Eileen and Loretta, I lost my horrible two left feet and became less klutzy and learned the Lindy.

These wonderful people sure made a wonderful summer for me, and a great initiation to Rockaway! Mr. Trautman in his bakery, let me and his son Billy write on the birthday cakes and munch away on their black and white iced cookies - then the wonderful 116 Street small town flavor from beach to bay.

The five and dime (F.W. Woolworth) store that now has risen to ninety-nine cents (Odd Lot). The library where we would go and raise our voices to vex the librarian! John's Lobster House with those lobsters in the window and how we would bang against the glass to stir them up. And who could ever forget the Park movie Theater. It wasn't those early Saturday funnies and matinees. But I'm sure everyone remembers the balcony and Friday and Saturday nights!

One can never forget the wonderful penny arcade and how you would collect and save all your coupons (from pokeroll and skeeball to get a bigger prize around Labor day). Then the beach and the lovable Mozic Dave Bunion and all his SP's (seasonal park helpers).

The marvelously huge Curly's Bath House - and beside the soda fountain at Jacob's now about the juke box, Rohr's Chocolates, Harbor Bake Shop (my breakfast break and their great crumb buns as well as everything else), Cushman's on the corner, the lovely little art shop is now a realty office, Brown's has now expanded on the next block close to the same firehouse, Jamaica Bank is now Northfork. Anyone remember the Paragon Restaurant and the diner? Calucci's Bar is gone now on the Newport corner!

One of the most treasured memories of those days was those anchored boats outside of that marvelous hotel on the bay and 116 street. I do remember it had a dance floor there in the days of "Sha-Boom," "Rock-A-Round The Clock," -"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" (the Platters), and I remember being there in a white sport coat and a pink carnation dancing with an Earth Angel (a beautiful daughter of a policeman from 120 Street). I always wanted to thank her for taking the kid out of the Bronx and introducing him to Rockaway with lasting and warm-hearted memories!


Arverne Project Illegal

Dear Editor;

According to the NYC's Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP) all actions including development must be certified consistent with the WRP program policies and the State's Coastal Management Policies (CMP).

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement, City Environmental Qual­ity Review states that the City Planning Commission in its role as the City Coastal Commission confirms that the Proposed Action in Arverne meets the findings of the WRP and the CMP. A review of the Coastal Policies WRP 8 and 8.1 and CMP Policies 19 and 20 would reveal that the Arverne project cannot be certified consistent with the policies and according to the Coastal Assessment Form shall not be undertaken.

The WRP Policy 8 sets standards that protect and maintain public access to the waterfront that includes repair and maintenance by NYC for enhanced enjoyment by the public.

The States Coastal Management Policies 19 and 20 state that "existing access" to a waterfront recreational area that includes a public beach must be maintained and shall not be reduced especially if the public access connects with a proximate public land. For an example; the city mapped streets connect the waterfront with Rockaway Beach Boulevard which is a proximate public land.  These policies also state that any future potential use of these public access areas shall also not be reduced.

The DEIS- CEQR review lists 46 public streets to be de-mapped and 10 public parklands will be eliminated. These public streets are "existing access to the waterfront from a proximate public land and are protected under WRP Policy 8 and 8.1 and CMP Policies 19 and 20.

The Developers of the Arverne Project must complete a Coastal Assessment Form that contains a list of questions about the NYC WRP and the State's CMP Policies. The de-mapping 46 Streets would reduce and eliminate public access to the waterfront and according to the CAF shall not be undertaken.

It is good that the new Arverne Development plans to include additional private streets within the development for increased public access BUT they cannot eliminate or reduce the "existing" public access street system, nor could the development be fenced off as a  private gated community depriving the public access on this property. The Public Trust Doctrine which was incorporated into the CMP Public Access Policies 19, 20 and the WRP Policy 8 prevents such a private use of property, which denies the public access to the waterfront.

The Arverne plans was approved by the City Planning Commission at the September 24 public hearing despite the objection by members of the public.  The City Planning Commission cannot approve a project that is inconsistent with the coastal policies, which are part of the City's principal coastal zone management tool approved by the federal government.

The City Planning Commission with the approval of the Arverne project acted "ultra vires" or outside the scope of their authority as they shall not reduce or eliminated any "existing" public access to the waterfront. Existing public access also includes easements on privately owned property and any pedestrian way extending from a public recreational area one being public beaches.

The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 list as a priority providing public access to the waterfront and public participation in this national and regional land and water use plan mandated by Congress.

It is important the people contact the City Planning Chair Amanda Burden, Aburden@planning.nyc.gov to let her know how important it is to maintain and preserve these public access areas.


What To Do With LILCO Site

Dear Editor;

I read with interest the article in the September 19 edition of The Wave on the Lilco (now called KeySpan Energy) property along the bay near Beach 108 Street. I am pleased that public comment will be taken soon on what to do with the property after the toxic soil cleanup. Other communities have successfully had brown fields cleaned up and satisfied both the public and commercial interests. Rockaway deserves the same.

More than four years ago the Rockaway Action Committee met with DEC and LIPA when it was brought to our attention that the land was listed as a "brownfield" on the state's list of such properties. At the time Federal superfund money was filtered down to the state and lots of communities received money to mitigate their problems. I recently read the superfund money has dried up so I am assuming the owner of the property will be responsible for the cleanup.

Although I know commercial development will be part of the "plan" for the property I feel KeySpan has a responsibility to provide the general public with some amenities once the site is cleaned. They have let it lie dormant along our bay for many years and they need to comply with the state's requirement to provide the public access to the waterway but not just a walkway.

When we met with them more than four years ago, this is what I envisioned. The property abutting the bay would have an environmental kiosk with information about the Rockaways natural environment and the "Kevin Callaghan" pier would jut out. An educational tour boat would take people for a ride along the bay to various educational environmental centers, namely Ft. Tilden Environmental Center and the Bayswater State Park (An environmental center is being planned). Once on land they could picnic and learn about the natural environment and the history of the Peninsula.

I'm sure there are lots of great ideas on how to best use the property but KeySpan and any commercial interests must give back to the community. If I am recalling the block and lot maps correctly the City of New York owns the property adjacent LIPA's along the bay.


Brain-Dead People

Dear Editor,

The effort to improve the education of school children is problematical. Why? Because I sit in the doctors' offices and see nothing but "brain-dead" people. Loads of reading material available and they sit there with glazed eyes. I put magazines on the table yesterday. Some came by and picked up the Readers TV Digest. Goodbye America! You're going down the tube.


Dr. Moss Touched Many Lives

Dear Editor,

In recognizing the passing of Dr. Doris Moss, the Trustees of the Rockaway Museum mourn the loss of their leader, mentor, and friend, while at the same time celebrating her life as a wife, mother, political advisor, community leader and noted educator.

Under her very persuasive, very "hands on," very passionate direction, Doris exhibited boundless energy and enthusiasm as she turned a dream into reality. She turned a vision into a working museum, which tells of the long, complex history of the Rockaways, to thousands of residents, visitors, and most importantly the children of our local schools,

As Doris will be missed by the many people she touched in her long illustrious career, there is a special void in our hearts, as we continue the work she laid out. She set goals and had dreams for the Museum, and we shall make every effort to bring those dreams to fruition.


Want Coupon Promotion Here

Dear Editor,

A few weeks ago, Waldbaum's on Amboy Road in Staten Island was offering a quadruple coupons promotion. I called 1-800-4-Waldbaums and asked customer service about having this same promotion for its Belle Harbor store.

I was told that the Amboy Road promotion was prompted by stiff competition. I suggested that Waldbaum's give a similar bonus to its Rockaway customers because the Belle Harbor store has done so well for the firm through the years.

In addition, the Amboy Road store has open access to the parking area for shopping carts. There is no need to hope that an attendant is available to open the lock, as is often the case in Rockaway Park. Too, there are wonderful trees that grace the parking lot for shade and beauty on Amboy Road.


Ground Zero Clamor

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your September 19 column which tells us of the plot to deconstruct the term "authentic" so that it means artificial - okay, fake.

I disagree with your dreary conclusion, believing all it takes for such assaults on the senses to stop is to place sunlight on such assaults - as you have done!

We don't hear the observation much, but Lincoln was said to have observed, "You can fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all of the time; but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."

And, of course, some fourscore years earlier, Madison in Federalist No. 41 noted: "A bad cause seldom fails to betray itself."

Last week, I traveled to Shanksville, PA and Gettysburg to get a sense of the present conditions at Ground Zero compared to those sites of national sadness. At Shanksville, there is a fence for people to leave memorial tributes, a form of expression denied visitors on Church Street. And at the Gettysburg cemetery a sign requests: "Silence and Respect." At Ground Zero, we proceed with construction and clamor, perhaps having concluded this is not to be hallowed ground, a view I think many would quarrel with, given the chance.

In Chambersburg, I got a copy of Public Opinion and just noticed the September 16 column by Neil Rudel on the sportsmanship of Nebraska football fans. Good to find sportsmanship still flickering somewhere in the land - if not in these parts, certainly not at our City Hall (and I can attest personally to this).

All best for the New Year.


Need To Combat Terrorism

Dear Editor,

It has been more than two years since our beloved city witnessed the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. My nephew, a fireman, was involved in the rescue and cleanup at Ground Zero. I work in downtown Manhattan and the sights I witnessed that day will scar my memory forever. That night I received calls from all over our nation and my relatives in France and Italy called. The majority of the world was in solidarity with our great nation over the vicious, evil attack on our way of life.

As a young man, I was fortunate enough to visit Italy each summer. At that time many internal terrorist groups were inflicting pain and sorrow throughout that nation. Trains were derailed, crowded shopping centers and cinemas were bombed, a prime minister was kidnapped and murdered. All the political entities, both right and left, joined to defeat this peril. Cars were searched at random, major government buildings were secured, dignitaries were given escorts, and the major sources of finance were traced and dried up. Slowly, the nation returned to normalcy.

Our nation needs to address the issue of what would be the most effective method of combating international terrorist groups. Americans cannot rely on unilateral military success. We will need the support of the entire international community that is dedicated to Democracy and human rights.

The recent action of President Bush's administration perplexes me. In a recent article in the New York Times stated that the interim report by the American, David Kay, could not find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. This nation attacked a sovereign nation to find WMD. Iraq, is a better place without their dictator, but the loss of life of both Iraqis and Americans for a regime change, was not what we were told were the reasons for this war. In the United Kingdom, the British government is under investigation because of a report by the British Broadcasting Company that the government misled the public before the outbreak of war.

Unlike other wars, our government is not advocating sacrifice of the American public. The Bush administration is advocating tax cuts that benefit the most privileged Soldiers that are fighting this war overseas come from the poor or working classes. The sons and daughters of plumbers, janitors, civil servants are on the front lines. At the same time, it is dubious that we are safer.

States and cities that are at the front lines of homeland security are running serious deficits. Resources are scarce to fortify the major targets of terrorists. If you read newspapers on a regular basis, there are articles regularly on soft targets for terrorists.

This nation is a nation based on law and not the cult of personality or group identification. Civil liberties are an important part of our identity. We cannot afford to forget that during the Second World War people of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry were often placed in camps and were not guilty of a crime against this nation. Our borders are spurious and we need laws to control immigration that remembers that people immigrating to our shores deserve dignity and due process. Reports of possible torture by our government of foreign nationals are a blot on our character and possibly our security. This feeds the terrorist cause. It is imperative that our nation lives by standards that reflect our shared values. Our Constitution needs to be respected. A national defense needs to occur as to what we need to do to secure our homeland.

This nation needs to end illegal immigration and allow immigrants to enter that meet economic and social needs of this nation. Soft targets need to be fortified. We should only take military action where we have concrete evidence of a threat to our national security. International cooperation is preferable considering that our enemies desire to weaken us by drying up our resources.

The lack of international cooperation by some of our allies is proof of the diplomatic failures of this administration. Our intelligence services (FBI, CIA) need to be re-evaluated. We need to respect our rights guaranteeing our Constitution.

A famous comic on television said we could give our constitution to Iraq. It is a good constitution that worked for over two hundred years and we are not using it at this moment. Is this funny or tragic?


It's World 'Serious' Time

Dear Editor,

It looks like the Yankees vs. the world.

Manager Bush has the Yanks playing at the Iraq Stadium.

Let's analyze our Yanks: good hitting, strong offense, solid defense, good pitching, weak bullpen.

Did you notice that on every baseball scorecard there's a column marked "E" for errors? That means, Manager Bush, we do make errors. Maybe we shouldn't play so many games away.

Maybe we should have had better plans for those extra inning games.

Maybe we should have more carefully planned our defense against some of those Iraqis hitters.

Anyway, Manager Bush, those guys don't play the game according to rules. They hit you and strike out against you when you're not looking.

Our Yanks need to come home. There are plenty of games that need to be played here - unemployment, taxes, hunger, immigration, elections, etc.

Manager Bush, bring our Yanks home to Stadium U.S.A. and let the Iraqis and the U.N. play their schedule on the Asia-Europe field.

Let the Yanks score at home!

Former Arverne resident

Help Save Endangered Turtles

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, which helps in the rescue of marine life in Rockaway, will hold its Sixth Annual 5K Run for the Ridley on Saturday, October 25.

The event will take place behind Atlantis Marine World Aquarium in downtown Riverhead. All proceeds will benefit the NYS Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, operated by the Riverhead Foundation.

The start of the sea turtle "cold-stun" season is marked by the 5K Run. Each year, sea turtles that do not migrate south become cold-stunned, or hypothermic, and need medical attention to survive. The most endangered sea turtle in the world, the Kemp's Ridley, is one species extremely susceptible to cold-stunning.

The 5K Run for the Ridley raises funds to rehabilitate and release cold-stunned sea turtles rescued by the Riverhead Foundation.

For registration and sponsorship information, visit Riverhead Foundation at www.riverheadfoundation.org.


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