2003-12-19 / Letters



Arverne Give-Away

Dear Editor,

(This is part two of a four-part letter on the environmental impact of Arverne By the Sea developments.)

As to corruption by "LCD," the Lot Cleaning Division of New York City's Department of Sanitation: LCD for years has been operating a racket, strip mining Arverne for topsoil. Literally thousands of truckloads of quality dark-brown top soil have been re moved by LCD from Arverne, never to be seen again. Bulldozers/Pay loaders and fleets of multi-ton tricks have taken whole fields within Arverne to 3 and 4 feet below street grade, on a thin ocean-fronting peninsula where every foot of ground of elevation is critical in keeping salt water to the south and salt water to the north from once again meeting and overwhelming the terrain. Instead of hand-removing the occasional discarded bottle and spare tire with laborers (as suggested by me in writing more than a decade ago), LCD leadership pressed for and got expensive machines which put into motion large-sum money transferences and kickbacks, while denying needed jobs to local youth and ready workers. Instead of handpicking the bottles and spare tires, shady LCD picked up the earth underneath them. As per a shell game, when material was re turned to the naked vegetation-strip ped depressed fields, it was the dregs or construction-and-demolition deb ris. Beneath the thinnest veneer on these fields, if you dig you'll now find horrors.

(The systematic leveling of trees and bushes in Arverne - to get at the costly topsoil - added to mosquito problems in the Rock aways by (1) driving out birds and other natural mosquito larvae predators, and by (2) replacing plant root-drainage networks with mudflats which form stagnant pools after rains.)

In past years, I have personally seen multi-story mountains of purest sifted topsoil, taken from Arverne, at the entrance of the Edgemere Land Fill, Beach 59 Street at Jamaica Bay. Those valuable mountains were not in their entirety put back into Arv erne. I can suggest some likely destinations: Quadrozzi Concrete; Waste Services Incorporated; The huge topsoil mountain to the south of COSTCO; The Little League ballfield, built on a marshland on at the southern edge of Jamaica Bay; and the filled in parking lots of Call-A-Head in Broad Channel.

I proposed specific, inexpensive scientific irrefutable means of tracking the theft of Arverne topsoil, which government officials chose to ignore. I also, in 1994, asked in writing the following precise question of John Doh erty, the NYC Depart ment of Sani tation Commissioner, which was never explicitly answered:

Since 1 January 1990, has the Lot "Cleaning" Division of the NYC Department of Sanitation transferred - directly or indirectly - any topsoil or topsoil derivatives to Quadrozzi Con crete Corporation, Quadrozzi Equip ment Leasing Corporation or Quad rozzi Realty Corporation of Amstel Avenue or to private enterprise business-associated with Quadrozzi?

Other outrages against Arverne, that want accountability before proceeding with decisions on Arverne's future, include:

The building of a temporary mountain of asphalt millings, three stories high by 150 feet long, within Arverne on the block between Beach 72 and 73 Streets, between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Rockaway Freeway;

Donation by corrupt NYC employees of parts of the said asphalt mountain (1) to construct a parking lot in Brooklyn and (2) to extend an en croaching paved zone for the company stealing land in the interior of ecologically sensitive Terrapin Point, (the stolen asphalt millings were dump ed directly onto plant life, witnessed by this writer and officers of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.) The squatting company has within past months constructed an enormous cylindrical (oil-storage?) tank on Terrapin Point, changing the nature of what was, until the final years of the 20 Century, a wetland on the south side of Broad Channel vitally supportive of the nearby Wildlife refuge on the north side;

The digging of two tunnels under the Boardwalk, at Beach 44 Street and Beach 64 Street, for the convenience of NYC vehicles, inviting the ocean to wash in through the tunnels and the cut dunes, front and rear;

The arson-torching and hurried bulldozer-razing on 14 May 2002 of a landmark 99 year-old active synagogue (Derech Emunah) in the center of Arverne that inconveniently sat on prime footage which interfered with the land-thieves' plans for maximum exploitation;

The recent removal of street identification signs within Arverne east of Beach 73 Street, increasing the alienation of the land from its 8 million owners by making it near-impossible for those owners to orient themselves in a visit.

Where in the thieves' proposed designs for Arverne are the changing rooms and bathrooms that would allow and welcome the 8 million owners of Arverne to (A) come to and enjoy the public's Arverne-adjacent beaches and (B) get into and out of bathing suits?


The Powerful Pen

Dear Editor,

Long, long ago, since George Washington's time, cartoonists have captured the political events of the day.

A history of the conflicts confronting the United States, reflecting national mood, incidents and personalities are revealed by America's satirists. No one is spared. The editorial cartoonist in praise of criticism waves a powerful pen. His/her message is graphic and the impact is felt by millions.

Ulysses S. Grant is purported to have said in 1868, "two things elected me, the sword of Sheridan (a great general), and the pencil of Thomas Nast (a famous cartoonist).

One the other hand, President Nixon admitted in 1962 that he "had to erase the Herblock image."

These are two examples of the pen being mightier than the sword.

Editorial cartoons also reveal a social history. Costumes of men and women, slave drivers, Bowery boys, pop ular songs, colloquialisms, slang of the past, slogans, banners, food, drink, tobacco, and street scenes are all depicted.

Symbolic figures such as Uncle Sam, the Republican Elephant and the Democratic Donkey can likewise be traced through these cartoons.

As long as the United States has a free press, the pen and ink satirists of every important newspaper will be busy capturing the moment forever.


Praise for 180 Action Center

Dear Editor,

I just had to write this letter of praise for the Action Center Program located at MS 180. My daughter has been an active participant in the Action Center at MS 180 and we have watched her grades soar and her attitude about school improve.

I am so thankful to MS 180 for allowing the Action Center to operate their program in the building.


Elevator Crisis at Beach 100

Dear Editor,

When did the elevator nightmare start? It's difficult to remember. It still exists, however, and continues today. The residents of Bay Towers on Beach 100 Street, have suffered far too long with the elevator service disruptions and the defective service of two elevators that service a population of roughly 1500.

Residents have been known to wait ten minutes for the elevator to come. When it does come, people with laundry and shopping carts are already inside. Sometimes it's impossible to board the elevator with so many people on. On the first floor garage level we have mothers with their carriages, school-age children, the wheelchair bound and workmen all waiting to enter the elevator.

Then the elevator doors won't close or it may give you a scare and drop a floor or two. The floor indicator reads "10" for the eighth floor. When you are forced to take the staircase you ask yourself, "what floor am I on now?" There are missing floor indicators depending on which staircase you're on. When you get home from work and would like to pick up your mail, you know that if you go back, you will have to deal with the elevator.

The elevator. Singular. We have two cabs, however, we only have one semi-operating since April with a promise, I believe, of an eight-week repair time according to management. It is now December. Maybe they meant eight months or eight years.

You may have the privilege of getting stuck in an icky elevator that has been soiled after hours of spillages or have the adventure of being in the elevator with an elderly person when it drops two floors. (They appear to be having a heart attack!)

We tenants meet at the elevator and mumble and grumble about the fact that we are powerless over the situation.

Management clearly loves to paint the building; surely they must have a paint contractor as a relative. The money could be better used to maintain the stairs, where tobacco-using tenants leave remnants on the staircases.

Because I live on a floor above ten, I am forced to take the staircase and have fallen several times. My knees are now rebelling against descending and ascending the stairs. How many times have my physically challenged guests been forced to spend the night because there was no elevator service? How many times have I not been able to have my little relative over who can't climb stairs? How many times did I have groceries and had to put them back in the car or beg someone to help me carry them upstairs? The supplies I need for my business requires me to use the elevator. I am constantly late because the workmen are using the elevators to do their job.

I pay rent to have the use of two working elevators. In this Christmas season, I look forward to the live trees getting on and off the elevator.


Don't Knock Mark Twain

Dear Editor:

As the parent of a child who currently attends Mark Twain Inter mediate School for the Gifted and Talented (I. S. 239), I wish to publicly state that I am thrilled with the quality education my child is receiving there. As a matter of fact, I do not believe it possible for him to be getting a better education anywhere else.A0

I am simply disgusted withA0the parents and administrators who continually "knock" the amazing success that this school has had, currently has,A0and, hopefully, will continue to have for many years to come.A0 I find the Mark Twain bashing offensive and when people make remarks like, "It's not what its cracked up to be," or "If you think your child is getting a better education in District 21, he's not," or "Mark Twain is not a magic formula for success," or "There are incidents all the time at Mark Twain,"I feel sickened.A0 My child is having a wonderful experience at Mark Twain.A0 It is a school thatA0happens to afford childrenA0an unusual opportunity to develop a talent during their regular school day, to gain complete mastery in many advanced subject areas, to partake in enrichment classes that provide an even more well-rounded education, and to be in a totally safe and nurturing environment with a staff of experienced, consummate professionals and mostly students who are there to work hard and learn.A0

I can only hope that my younger child is given the very same chance to attend the phenomenal Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented.A0 The parents that haveA0children who are lucky enough to attend or have previously attended Mark Twain, should all be grateful and thankful instead of double-dealing to sell the proposed changes for our local Rockaway Schools.A0 We should all support and applaud the right to have choices and fight to maintain those choices.A0A0I would like to see positive educational reforms in the Rockaways too, but please do not try to elevate a vague proposal for Rockaway schools to the position of being better than Mark Twain before anything is even in place.A0A0It takes a lot more than a Power Point presentation to create a learning environment with all of the components in place for it to become one of the best schools in the City of New York.A0 It also takes time to build.A0 My advice to those administrators is to take your time.A0 Do it, but do it right, do it for the benefit of all children, and do notA0eliminate choice.A0 Please, the stakes are high and IA0urge you to consider the safety and educational success of all of the children of Rockaway before implementing changes.


Millions in the Toilet

Dear Editor,

Once again, the dredging company is going to pump sand on the beaches. The last time they did this, our elected officials came out in the spring to look, and said, "where did it all go?"

Meanwhile, the Parks Department wastes more money each spring by bulldozing every blade of dune grass, which holds the sand in place. They make the beach as flat as can be, which ensures that Rockaway will suffer more flooding than any other South Shore beach when a storm hits.

I watched amused as the bulldozers pushed up little hills of sand recently. The sand promptly was washed or blown away.

I guess the idea is, 'why fix a problem once, when you can do it every five years with a contract to boot?' Put in the jetties, let the dunes grow, and the problem will be fixed once and for all.


Need More Than Curriculum

Dear Editor,

Guns in schools, vendettas, beatings. AA0scene out of a mob movie? No, recent incidents at Middle School 180.A0Sounds to me like there are bigger problems that the community should be focusing on thanA0a possibleA0change in the educational curriculum. A safe environment is the first priority, without it everything elseA0is lost. How about a parent -teacher conference (or a community board meeting) on this issue and what underlying factors would contribute to 12 year old students having access to gun?

HowA0about a conference onA0fostering a culture of learning and respect for oneself and others, about the failure to protect the child who was severely injured for speaking the truth about a life-threatening situation? Incidents like this occur through out the country, our failure to address them leads to larger problems. I would hope that the community sees these issues as deserving of even a small portion of the activism and public outcry that is being aimed at the discussion of MS 180's future curriculum.


Jamaica Bay Borrow Pits

Dear Editor,

The problem of the borrow pits is both bureaucratic, political and economic. Maybe there are "ego-nomic factors" to consider also.

So for Friends of Rockaway, I monitored the various work groups at the NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program associated with disposal of dredge spoils out in the ocean and on land. There were even meetings at the World Trade Center Port Authority offices. (There has been a dredging forum that became a section of the Com prehensive Conservation Man age ment Plan for the Harbor.)

I recall that once Sierra Club representative who had some expertise pointed out that the sand caps on top of the shallowed pits 'yummy batches of toxic dredge spoils' are subject to biological activity from marine life. There is also the diffusion gradient effect of toxic chemicals moving up through the cap from where there is greater concentration to where there is less in the Jamaica Bay water column. Then there is disturbance from extreme storm generated currents to consider. It is also of concern that when introducing crud to the pit area there is evaporation into the air which children and adults will brea the and also dispersal in the water column (though curtains are used to reduce this.) There are sincere regulations and specs for public health protection as well as for marine life.

But is it all necessary to turn Jama ica Bay/Gateway National Park into a toxic storage facility? Experts at USEPA have pointed out a vast de mand (exceeding supply) for all the toxic and not so toxic dredge spoils to mix with brownfield crud from contaminated land e.g. LILCO site for all kinds of industrial treatments that chemically stabilizes or destroys the toxic agents. The products obtained are safe to use. Consultants cram meet ings to get part of the action.

Columbia University's Lahmont Doherty Lab has claimed that the former view that the flushing action of Jamaica Bay has been impaired by the borrow pit and JFK Airport Runway 22R/4L extension onto Joco Marsh is wrong and that it flushes alright. If readership aggress there is no need to shallow up pits for water movement (bottom water drags) im prove ment.

So what stakeholders need to portray the bottom of the pits as so degraded that the disposal of toxic spoils (with cherry on top clean sand cap) will restore the ecosystem of the pit?

Eugenia Flatow (Coalition for the Right) at the estuary meetings (and maybe in outer space) has called 'disposal restoration' when I tried to get Jamaica Bay de-listed for both disposal and restoration. The Natural Resources Protective Association of Staten Island (Jim Scarcella, Presid ent, Ida Sanoff, Brooklyn Coor din ator) sent submersible equipment into Norton Basin and the tape has been shown to the bureaucrats and public that plenty of marine life exists there. I have yet to get a report about Little Bay.

Also not that the bureaucratic definition of clean sand caps differs from that of the public's.

One is led to conclude that there must be a political mix and economic consideration for bureaucrats with contacts to companies who will be involved. Then, maybe there strong egocentric forces at work for those who proposed the pit filling operations decades ago.

Of course this is all educated speculation that needs to be examined by a wider "snoozing public." Then again, the beach nourishment program of the US Army Corps of Engineers is linked with all the Corps programs and maybe just chalk it all up to the "dredging industrial and ego complex." Len Houston is the lead scientist at the Corps on these pit projects and is friendly with Eugenia Flatow and other Bay aficionados (maybe in outer space too.)


No Plan Will Help Education

Dear Editor;

I have been following the debate over the new school plan proposed by Kathleen Cashin for the west end schools.

I first have to add a disclaimer. I am a teacher in a Brooklyn middle school who has no students in a school that would be impacted by the plan. Unfortunately, the schools near by where I live do not offer me a public school option so my wife and I have opted for the private school option.

While I think that Cahsin's plan to make the local middle school into a magnet school for gifted students has some merit and will bring some of the parents of middle school students back "home" to Rockaway rather than to the District 21 middle sch ools, I still do not think that it would be an option for my family, because no public school is allowed to educate kids.

I say that as an insider with 24 years of experience.

The problem is not curriculum, nor is it race, nor is it grouping kids into educational levels.

The problem is discipline and the failure of the city's public schools to rationally address the question of disruptive children.

At the school at which I teach, we have a rather large special education department. One of the special education students, a rather large 15-year-old, roams the halls at will. He has already this year stuck a pencil in the eye of a student who "looked at him the wrong way," has attacked several school security officers (sending one to the hospital), has caused several riots in the cafeteria by starting fights that required police intervention, has assaulted an assistant principal and has sexually assaulted a young mainstream girl by walking up to her in the hall and grabbing her breast.

What has happened to this young man? He has been suspended for five days on three occasions, the maximum number of times he can be suspended this year. No matter what he does from this point on, there can be no sanction for the school for his action.

Because he is a special education students, he cannot be given a longer suspension without the permission of the Department of Education and they will not allow a longer suspension for a special education student unless he or she uses a weapon in an assault - something about not punishing a student for activity arising out of his or her handicap.

So, the kid wanders the halls, doing as he will, assaulting children and staff with no chance of punishment.

Even the good kids in the school, and they are in the majority, have begun to understand that there will be no punishment from the school should they break the school rules.

When the majority of students in a school come to know that unfortunate fact, we might as well close the schools down and go home.

Why is this happening? Because the courts, the Advocates for Child ren, the ACLU and others have decided that the rights of a few miscreants to halt the education of all of the other students are paramount to the rights of the students who still want to get an education.

Until that changes, all of the new plans in the world will not make a difference.

It is time to go back to the time when there were special and very tough schools for students who disrupted the education of others.

It is time for the Department of Education to get its collective head out of the sand and realize that it has to stop coddling students, both academically and behaviorally.

Don Loper

The Real Hero Of MS 180

Dear Editor

This letter is directed to the brave young man who reported a fellow student for bringing a gun to school and was subsequently beat en for it.

I believe I speak for all Rockaway residents, especially parents of school age children, when I say that you truly are a hero.A0 Young men like you are the leaders of tomorrow.A0 Despite the adversity and overwhelming pressures from the negative forces that you face everyday just by simply attending school, you stood up for what was right.

Your brave actions may have saved the lives of your fellow students.A0 I am sorry that you had to endure the
wrath of thugs who were not raised with the same moral integrity as you. Please don't let it discourage you from continuing to be the shining example of what a young man should be.A0 There are lots of students out there who feel the same way you do but are afraid to stand up for fear of not fitting in.

You are their hero.A0 They are quietly admiring you right now and are harboring great respect for you.A0 We all are.A0 Never forget that.A0 Your par ents, your teachers, your neighbors, your friends and fellow students are all extremely proud of you.A0 God bless you and keep your head up.


Use It Wisely

This summer, one of New York's Finest casually voiced what would be the best land-use option for Rock away's wilds - that exquisite stretch of dune-prairie from Beach 25 to Beach 59 Streets, between the boardwalk and the A Train line.

"They should let it revert back to its natural state," the police officer said.

We would be lucky if that police officer moonlighted as an urban planner. I wish I had asked him his name.

The land there is unique and special, a real anomaly, and the envy of any major city (quiet, we don't want them to know about it). Properly cared for, it could become one of Rock away's most prized properties.

Imaginative planning and some grant writing ability could make of this space a place where nature could be rediscovered in all of its power and marvel - and its economic power. It should be managed much like the Appalachian Trail, for ecological and social research, for an outward-bound program, for families to enjoy recreation and education that is almost inaccessible today to urban families.

Reading about another 12-year-old walking into a local school with a loaded gun, we are reminded of the very serious and imminent need to do all that we can to steer children in a more positive direction.

Rockaway is a great gem that can be used for the benefit of many, if it is used wisely.


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