2003-11-28 / Editorial/Opinion

Development Is Fine, Diving School Is Better

Development Is Fine, Diving School Is Better

The recent stories about the rescue of a man whose SUV dropped into the East River in Manhattan once again points to the fact that the rescue divers who work for both the fire department and the police department are a vital resource. Divers from both agencies are constantly at work, rescuing people from perilous water situations. Why do we write about that in The Wave? Because most of those involved in water rescue were trained in Rockaway – at a dive school on Beach 9 Street called "Almost Paradise." The dive school, along with the restaurant of the same name, has been sold to developers who will soon put luxury homes on the waterfront site. We are not opposed to development and new homes. We understand that this prime waterfront land is too valuable for a restaurant. We still believe, however, that its real value lies not in a waterfront view, but in the diving school that is a one of a kind in this area. Last year, a visitor from The Wave to the site found FDNY divers training in the school’s underwater "classrooms." They were joined by three divers from the New York State Police. Days later, a number of NYPD divers were spotted at the school, learning how to make water rescues the right way. Borough President Helen Marshall has recognized the importance of the school. The mayor and other citywide officials should do the same. We urge the city to allow the new homes to be built off the beach while keeping the beach and the underwater schoolrooms for training our emergency divers in place. The life they save may be their own.

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