2004-01-30 / Front Page

Mayor, Parks Department Look At Sites For AA587 Memorial

By Howard Schwach
Mayor, Parks Department Look At Sites For AA587 Memorial

Mayor, Parks Department Look At Sites For AA587 Memorial


Queens Parks Commisioner Rich Murphy looks at photographer as Jonathon Greenspun, the city's Commissioner of Community Assistance (facing camera) and their staffs talk at Sunset Diner.Queens Parks Commisioner Rich Murphy looks at photographer as Jonathon Greenspun, the city's Commissioner of Community Assistance (facing camera) and their staffs talk at Sunset Diner.

Representatives from the mayor's Office of Community Assistance and officials of the Department of Parks and Recreation came to Rockaway on Monday for a relatively secret "unofficial" meeting to take a look at two sites for a possible memorial to those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crash ed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001.

The two sites they looked at were the Rockaway Tribute Park on Beach 116 Street and Beach Channel Drive and the triangle of land on Beach 126 Street bet ween the bay wall and Beach Channel Drive.

Lark Anton, a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, told a Wave reporter who got wind of the meeting and appear ed at the site of Trib ute Park, "This is real ly an unofficial meet ing to look at some sites in Rock away that might be appropriate for a mem orial. We are real ly trying to be fair to everybody."

Queens Parks Com mis sioner Rich Mur phy was not as sanguine. He demanded to know how the rep orter found out about the secret meeting and challenged his right to be there.

What Murphy said to the reporter cannot be reprinted in a family newspaper.

Also at the meeting, which began at the Rockaway Sunset Diner's parking lot, across the street from the park and end ed at a table at the local eatery, were Jon athon Greenspun, the Commissioner of the Department of Community Assist ance and Joann Ariola, the mayor's representative for Community Board 14.

Late last year, the families of those who died on the Airbus A300-600 were offered a spot in the Rockaway Tribute Park, which was designed as a tribute to those local residents who were lost in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in September of 2001.

Later, a memorial to all of the firefighters who died that day was added to the plan.

While there are a number of groups who purport to represent the AA 587 families, at least one of them has formally turn ed down the Tribute Park idea and asked for a separate memorial at Beach 126 Street.

Hector Algarroba, whose mother and father died in the crash, said that he believed that the Beach 126 site was better suited to a memorial for the crash.

"We understand that the neighborhood is against a memorial in a residential area and we respect that," Al garroba said. "We don't understand what the problem is with the Beach 126 Street site."

City officials have cited two problems with that site, however. Last year, An ton told The Wave that there was not adequate parking nearby that site and that crossing Beach Channel Drive to get to the site could be dangerous.

Liz Sulik, the executive director of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, who was eating lunch at the diner at the time, said that she had not been invited to the meeting although the chamber has been the lead agency in developing the Tribute Park.

Neither Congressman Anthony Weiner nor any of his staff were present.

Weiner has been working with both communities to come up with a compromise solution that both could accept.

"I hope you'll let me know what's going on," Sulik said to Murphy as he pass ed the booth in which she was eating.

Murphy nodded.

At the second anniversary of the crash late last year, Mayor Bloomberg promised the Hispanic community a suit able memorial, but did not say where it should be placed.


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