2004-04-02 / Editorial/Opinion

Bayfront Is The Answer For AA 587 Memorial

Bayfront Is The Answer For AA 587 Memorial

The families of those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor more than two years ago have asked the city for a triangle of land along the bayfront from Beach 126 Street to Beach 129 Street for a memorial rivaling the memorial that was built last year in the Dominican Republic. While both the mayor and Congressman Anthony Weiner have said that the site is not adequate for a memorial, we think that it would be the perfect answer for both those who demand a site close to the place where the Airbus A300 crashed and those who do not want the memorial in a residential area.

The mayor has looked at several other sites for the memorial: Tribute Park; the southern end of Beach 116 Street; the bayfront at Beach 108 Street; Riis Park. The families have rejected each of those sites, as well they should. Tribute Park should be reserved for those who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. That site carries enough baggage without the added angst of flight 587. The southern end of Beach 116 Street is summer gaudy, with beachgoers tossing garbage on the site and a new, luxury condo about to be built. The bayfront at Beach 108 Street, across from the water treatment plant, looks like something out of "On The Water front," commercial and dull. The National Park is far from the crash site and there is a NPS rule that a memorial cannot be built on park property until many years have passed since the person or persons died. The mayor and Weiner cited two reasons why the bayfront at Beach 126 Street is not suitable: the danger of crossing Beach Channel Drive and the lack of parking in the area. Both of those problems can be remediated. The city can place a traffic light with a "walk button" at Beach 126 Street that would allow visitors to walk safely across the street. Perhaps the light at Beach 128 could be removed to make way for the new light. Parking is a problem everywhere in Rockaway, particularly in the summer. Perhaps the city can designate parking spaces at the north end of the 500 blocks from Beach 124 to Beach 130 on specific days to allow for visitors. Perhaps visitors can walk the ten short blocks from the municipal lot on Beach 116 Street to the site. The park site in Astoria requires a walk from available parking spots to the memorial sited there. Why not in Rockaway? We urge the mayor to approve the bayfront site. It would satisfy both the needs of the families and those of the residents. What more can he ask for?

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