2003-10-24 / Letters

Future Status of the Rockaway Beach Line



Sufferers of Clergy Abuse

Dear Editor,
The disturbing news about clergy sexual abuse and its effects on children in Broad Channel and the Rockaways prompts me to urge those who may have been abused to do something about their abuse. I am a Catholic priest and a survivor of priest sexual abuse. For the past year, I have been working with several former students of mine from Boston who were viciously abused by a school chaplain. I have witnessed not only the ravages of clergy abuse with its concomitant damage, but also the miracles of rescue and recovery that are being performed.

I am convinced that there are many abuse victims out there who do not realize that it is not necessary to continue to live with the negative consequence of having been abused. SNAP (The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) is a self-help organization founded in the early 1980's to provide support for the victims of clergy abuse. Chapters of SNAP have sprung up all around the county, and there is a chapter here in New York City. Our membership numbers five thousand victims, representing a small portion of those who have been abused. I am a SNAP leader who embarks on rescue and recovery missions each day. Please visit our website at www.snapnetwork.org, contact me at the rescue and recovery hotline 862.368.2800, or email the local outreach person at snapoutreach@aol.com. All information is confidential. Admitting your abuse is the beginning of the healing!


Future Status of the Rockaway Beach Line

Dear Editor,
A city bureaucrat will explain how the community benefits by the sale of the Rockaway Beach Line railroad property located at Metropolitan Avenue and Alderton Street to a local gas station owner.

Mayor Giuliani, early in his first term, announced the city would sell the Rockaway Beach Line right-of-way, which traverses Western Queens north to south, a block or so east of Woodhaven-Crossbay Boulevard, running from Queens Boulevard to Rockaway Beach. The city's intention at the time was to sell the railroad property to developer Bruce Ratner for his proposed Metropolitan Avenue shopping mall development, which Home Depot was to anchor. The mayor reconsidered prior to his reelection, and the railroad property remained intact. A 24 hour Home Depot and a Sports Authority were built, and as predicted, traffic in the area increased dramatically, at times leaving neighborhood streets tied up in gridlock.

A succession of New York City mayors over the past 50 years have recognized the importance of the long thin ribbon running through Western Queens, and held onto this railroad right-of-way despite the city's never-ending series of budget shortfalls. Who was hungrier than Mayor Koch, or more mercenary than Mayor Giuliani? Yet, the Rockaway Beach Line right-of-way was passed completely intact to Mayor Bloomberg.

The city's divestment of the Rockaway Beach Line right-of-way may signal the Bloomberg administration's eagerness to breakup the furniture, and sell off properties long considered strategically vital to the city's future. It may also indicate a new round of shopping mall proposals for Metropolitan Avenue, and yet even greater traffic snarls looming in the community's future.

This particular parcel is an interesting choice to begin the city's breakup of the railroad right-of-way. Located on the north side of Metropolitan Avenue, and the west side of the track bed, the future Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills station would almost certainly be constructed on this property. The other choice would be to build a station on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue. (The original Rockaway Beach Line Forest Hills station was on the north side.) But the property south of Metropolitan is in the hands of developers, and it will cost the city from ten to a hundred times more than what they're selling the old station site for, to buy another parcel on the opposite side of the street for a new station. Of course, the city could always evict the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps from their permanent home on Metropolitan Avenue on the east side of the track bed. But this heroic group has earned their place of honor, and to hassle them is unthinkable. Unless the city can show that the gas station owner they want to sell this strategically valuable piece of property to has performed some public service equal to the contribution of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, then the decision on where to build the Forest Hills station is a no-brainer; or the city's bureaucratic standard for meritorious public service has become so vitiated as to become meaningless.

Woodhaven-Crossbay Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway are the only contiguous north-south thoroughfares in Western Queens. In order to travel from the north part of the borough to the south part of the borough, one of these two thoroughfares must be used. North-south mass transit is non-existent and public conveyance is by bus, adding to rush hour traffic snarls on these two over saturated roadways. Forty years ago, a huge bureaucratic blunder severed the Rockaway Beach Line and ended north-south mass transit for Western Queens. The city literally told a half-million commuters in Western Queens to take a hike and created the currehaven-Crossbay corridor. Hence, the murderous traffic upsurge was born, and will only grow worse until north-south mass transit is restored - that means, until the Rockaway Beach line is reopened. As long as the railroad property remains intact, the task merely awaits an energetic Mayor to accomplish; which brings us back to the subject of this short work, the next meeting of Community Board Six.

Watch as Mayor Bloomberg chips away at one of the most valuable public assets in the city of New York, and ebbs away the future of Queens County.


Agrees With Adams

Dear Editor:
I agree with Steve Adams' views about Addabbo.  I spoke with Mike Mossa, too.  Aside from complaining about the real estate tax, he really had nothing to say.  I've never seen him anywhere before the last few
weeks.  I've never heard him express an opinion about any community issue at any meeting before he decided to run.  Has he ever been to Community Board 14? 

I think Community Boards 9 and 10 are in the Council District.  Has he ever been to any of their meetings? Before Addabbo tried to run for office he had a track record in his community for voters to look at.  So did
Lew Simon and Chris Jorge for that matter.  Voters had knowledge of who they were and what they stood for from their track records.  Voters had something objective to look at and review besides what the candidates' said in their campaign hype.  What community effort anywhere in the district has Mossa been part of before he came around looking for our

I don't like paying more taxes, but at least I'm getting some services for that money.  I believe Mossa and his family are in the insurance business.  I got my homeowners insurance bill last month.  My bill went up 47% in just one year.  Since that really angered me, I looked more carefully at the last few year's worth of bills.  Yep, up 127% over three years and I've never made a claim!  I've paid big bucks for car insurance over the years too.  Any time I've had a claim I've been treated like I'm looking for something for nothing by the insurance company, not like I'm asking for the service I paid for.  Mossa's making money from insurance companies.  Maybe that's why he's not complaining about those kinds of increases.

Track records are important to me.  I like to know what any person asking for my vote stands for and what kind of person they are.  Take the tax increase for example.  I don't like it, but I know it was necessary.  If the city had gotten its fair share from the Bush and Pataki Republicans who control Washington and Albany, maybe it would not have been necessary.

If the city didn't have to deal with the fallout from Republican Giuliani's spending binge in his last year before 9/11 when the economic indicators all said a "bust" was coming, maybe it wouldn't have been necessary.  If the city didn't have to bear the costs of 9/11, maybe it wouldn't have been necessary. Addabbo could have taken the easy way out of the political dilemma facing Councilmembers about voting to raise taxes.  He could have voted no while knowing full well that a majority was there to pass it. Then he could have used it to his political advantage by saying: "I didn't vote to raise taxes" like a couple of Democratic Councilmen are doing. That tells me, Addabbo's a man who will stand up and do what's right
even if it's not popular.

Summer's over.  I had some strong opinions on the beach rules situation.  So did most people in Rockaway.  Some of us disagreed with Addabbo and some of us didn't.  But his actions again showed that he won't crumble and take the easy way out.  He could have just gotten the rules changed without a full assessment of opinion.  He could have just listened to
the loudest voices.  He chose to listen to all the voices.  It tells me Addabbo will try to do what's right, not just what's easy or politically expedient for him.  That makes him the kind of man I'll vote for.  These are tough times and he may not seem tough but his track record says he is.  He's the kind of man I want representing me. I want more of his type of guy out there running for office.


Remembers Rockaway

Dear Editor;
I was born and raised in Rockaway.  What a memorable place.  I still come back every few months to visit friends and relatives.  Some of my greatest memories go way back.

I first lived on Beach 56 Street.  I remember going to the beach every summer, Playland, Mr. Softie, visiting the library, going to the firehouses and getting to sit in the trucks and blow the horns and run the sirens.  We had our own park at the end of the block. 

My grandparents lived on Mott Avenue.  One set of grandparents lived on one side of the buildings while the other lived on the other end.  We got to see both at the same time while playing in the center court.  The Kosher Bakery on Mott Avenue was always a treat.  We got free cookies and that copper string holder that hung from the ceiling that kept all the kids wondering "how does that work?". Food shopping was always fun as a kid watching the cashiers punch the numbers on the old registers.  However, when Waldbaum's expanded the store on Beach 116 Street with 2 entrances...WOW!!! 

Every summer, we spent most days at the beach, my mother didn't work when we were young.  We would walk down the street, barefooted mind you, and spend all day playing in the sand and surf.  When the day was over, Mr. Softie was waiting at the end of the block with the usual and still running catchy tune.  My children can hear that melody from as far away as a mile, just as we could at their age. 

Playland was the MOST amazing place to be as a kid!  I was a bit of a chicken, so I didn't ride the "big roller coaster" until I was about 12.  My favorite rides were the "little roller coaster", the whip, the tilt-a-whirl and the Himalayas.  I was deathly afraid of the haunted house.   The house of mirrors was such a problem, people got lost in there for hours, I know we did.  A big favorite of the whole family was the bumper cars.  No one had to go "one way" everyone just bumped and pounded each other to a hysterical end.  My grandmother's favorite ride was the Merry-Go-Round.  I think I was strapped onto a horse until I was 11.  The first time I went on the "big roller coaster", I had a sore throat.  By the time the ride was done, Laryngitis had fully set in. 

The other great thing about Playland was the arcade throughout the park as well as across the street.  Wall to wall games and prizes, a kids dream.  We must have spent a total of 4 years just playing skeeball alone.  And then there was O'Garas.  Man, what a place!  you could hear the music from O'Garas 3 blocks away over the sounds of the park.  You could see people standing outside the bar waiting to get in for hours, it was so crowded.  I remember the very first time my father took me there.  The band that played sang mostly music from the 50's.  My dad listened to that stuff all the time, so we love it.  Because of that, I am also a great Elvis fan.  After a short break of everyone dancing and sweating their butts off, the band came back and the singer came out as none other than the "King".  I gave my dad the biggest hug and kiss I can remember!  They were fantastic!  I don't think we went home until the bar closed.  What a night! 

I also remember the Fireworks!  Every week, we would leave Playland out the back way, and cross Shore Front Parkway to watch.  I remember laying on the grass in the park area, yes laying on the grass; no broken glass, no dog poop, no cigarette butts.  It would get dark and the fireworks would start off the beach.  As a kid, this lasted for hours!  It was amazing, the colors, the sounds and everyone in sight would stare up at the sky and just go "oooooh, ahhhhh, wowww!".  Awesome!

Later on in life, I became a teenager.  In Rockaway, a teenager meant bar hopping.  Boy, when you live in a place that is lined with bars, that is a lot of places to visit in one night.  We mostly went to listen to the bands that played, but a bit of drinking was also done.  Murphy's was "my place".  We knew the bartenders, the bouncers and the owners of "our bar".  We were regulars who had the run of the place.  Dancing all night long every weekend to the beat of the DJ or the bands was the best way to spend the night after a long exhausting day on the beach soaking up the sun!

What memories I have!  I wouldn't want to grow up in any other place.  Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of raising my kids here.  It isn't quite the same as it was when I was young.  I do bring my children to visit, and they love it!  Mr. Softie, the beach, the parks, the food and the stories of when I was a kid keep them enthralled.  The Rockaway Museum has the pictures and the books of the history and my kids love to go look and touch what is there.

We will still come and visit, long into the future.  Hopefully, we can gain some of the nostalgia back with the museum renovations.


Sanders Will Raise Taxes

Dear Editor,
Politicians have emerged from their cocoons, the politicians who want to be elected or reelected. They lie. They cheat us now that it is election post time. They have their dirty hands in our tax money pockets by feeding the gullible public self-serving nonsense to further their own selfish ambitions. James Sanders running here in Rockaway for City Council is irresponsible for raising your real estate taxes & for doubling sanitation and parking fines. He did not raise a finger of objection when he voted yes to more taxes before the infamous City Council along with his fellow members satisfying our Mayor's dictates.

Mayor Bloomberg along with Sand­ers and the City Council raised your taxes. His excuse was that the City needed revenue to continue in business. We, in Rockaway, as part of Queens County along with the rest of the outer boroughs paid their fair share of the tax burden. However, James along with other council members and the Mayor did not tell us the real reason for the tax hike along with fines and other thievery of the people. Manhattan was not paying their fair share of the tax burden. Many real estate developers were not paying taxes at all. Case in point, Madison Square Garden property does not pay taxes; Broadway theaters and so-called cultural centers don't pay taxes. Donald Trump erected along the Hudson River massive rental and condo buildings that have been given tax breaks. Manhattan is one big tax break and we, the small homeowners, are getting shafted. The mayor blames the shortfall on 9/11. Properties were wiped out of business. However, the horrendous shortfall in Manhattan was taking place before 9/11 because of the tax burden. Stock market companies were moving out in droves along with other large tax paying companies to other states in nearby New Jersey and Connecticut who have offered great deals to business who come there.

Office space in Manhattan goes begging for customers. The result is that the developers are not paying their tax burden. Case in point: Time Warner Center, a high profile new office building complex where they have given up on renting the spaces and are occupying the building themselves. There are no takers. Asking rents at $70 a square-foot. The question is: who will pay the taxes since there is no income for this exclusive center? Time Warner will move 1,700 workers into these buildings vacating the buildings they came from. Who will pay the taxes in Manhattan? Does the Bloomberg administration foreclose these properties INREM foreclosure? No. The administration elects to raise taxes on the backs of homeowners. James Sanders, the guy who wants to be reelected, raised your taxes instead. He supports more taxes on homeowners. Dump him on Election Day along with the other scoundrels cloaked in their political prostitute suit of clothes. Think before you vote.


Arverne Project Illegal

Dear Editor;
The property right in question at the heart of this complaint is the elimination of 46 public Streets that are public access easement extending from the public beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Any approvals by City Planning for this is inconsistent with the Coastal Management Program Policies and violates the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and the relevant federal environmental laws and regulations. 

Citing Town of North Hempstead, et al. v. Village of North Hills, et al., 482 F. Sup. 900 at 905, the court noted that theses statutes of the Coastal Zone Management act (CZMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by their express language, operate only on federal agencies and impose no duties upon municipalities, unless that municipality is acting in partnership with the federal government. New York City, acting in partnership with the federal government with the federally-approved Waterfront Revitalization Program is a participant of the federal Coastal Zone Management Program.  In addition, the elimination of any public access easement violates a person's 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution as confirmed in Leydon v. Greenwich 257 Conn. 318 in which the judge ruled that the Town of Greenwich in denying access to the waterfront to Mr.. Leydon violated his First Amendment rights to access a public forum.

Clearly New York City and State have not followed their own standards of NYC's Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP) and NY State's Coastal Management Program for land use within the coast zone boundary by approving and permitting actions outlined above that unreasonably restrict and exclude land uses and water uses of regional and national benefit pursuant to the CZMA 1451, 1452.

The City in the approval of Arverne Urban Renewal has acted "ultra vires," or outside the scope of their authority and the law and may be considered an act of official misconduct Title L 195; A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with the intent to obtain a benefit or deprive a person of a benefit: The obstruction of a public access easement depriving the public of it use in favor of a private developer. A benefit includes any gain or advantage to the beneficiary or to a third person pursuant to the desire of consent of the beneficiary [ 10.00 (17)].

In addition to, and all inclusive of the land and water use regulations of the CZMA, citing its legislative history, P.L. 92-583, the Council on Environmental Quality made recommendations which were incorporated into the decision-making process of the coastal management programs. In its First Annual Report, CEQ recommended reforms in Government activity needed to institute a national land use policy are undeveloped at this time.  It would necessary first to be determined which levels of government must assume which specific responsibilities and to identify the appropriate mechanism at each level to achieve such a policy. However, this chapter has identified certain aspects of a strategy, which the council feels merit special consideration. On this list of considerations is: Home mortgage and interest subsidy programs should be used to encourage the proper siting and environmental compatibility of the subdivisions in which new housing is constructed.

This recommendation was incorporated into all environmental reviews and coastal assessment of federal, state and local government participating in the CZMA coastal management program for concurrence at each level of government pursuant to NEPA with the enforceable standards for water and land use regulations in all permitting and decision-making for actions within the coast zone boundary.   In addition, a statute designed to protect the environment may, under certain circumstances warrant a liberal interpretation.

The city acting in partnership with the federal government and the developer are responsible for their actions within the coast zone boundary.

The developer, in a pre-partnership agreement with the Federal Housing Administration to give mortgages for the homes to be constructed is also required to do a "detailed environmental study" and " coastal assessment"  as the public is entitled to know about the actions and its environmental compatibility in clear concise language. And also not to prevent any violations of an action to be swept under the rug.       

 New York City with their approval actions to eliminate 46 public access streets from proximate public lands, the public beach and Rockaway Beach Boulevard and 10 parkland areas, is a null and void action as it cannot be certified consistent with the enforceable standards of the New WRP and, does not further the goals and objectives of the CZMA, and its federal programmatic objectives.


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