2004-05-07 / Editorial/Opinion

Once Again, The City Kicks Us In The Teeth

Once Again, The City Kicks Us In The Teeth

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, when city welfare officials were looking for a place to put the most incorrigible families, those with drug-addicted family members and without hope of getting a job, they looked to Rockaway’s city housing projects and filled them with those families. When the Department of Sanitation needed to dump toxic waste more than a dozen years ago, there was no doubt where that toxic material would go. A DOS memo at the time directed the waste to the Edgemere Landfill in Rockaway and only that landfill. When city officials needed to site a nursing home, a group home, a homeless shelter, a welfare hotel, the first place they looked to was Rockaway. For the past several years, Mayor Bloomberg and his cohorts in the Parks Department, Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Director of Operations Liam Kavanagh, have done their utmost to take the beach and boardwalk away from Rockaway residents by limiting surfing and fishing, by restricting the hours those amenities could be utilized, by insuring a wave of tickets for those who dared to think that the beach belonged to the public. Most recently, the city has cracked down on the amount of parking (a most-valuable resource in the summer) available to west end residents by restricting parking on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and by taking away a portion of the only municipal lot in the area for a construction project that it insists must be completed over the busiest part of the summer. Then, we have Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris. Harris was reportedly reading The New York Times story about Patrick Clark’s war with Duane Reade and saw Tribute Park called a "memorial" by writer Robert Worth. Community parks do not have to be vetted by the city’s Arts Commission. Memorials do. Therefore, she picked up the phone and called Parks (the agency that actually owns the land) and "suggested" that they get the plan approved by the Arts Commission, the same group that wanted to deep six the G.I. Jane statue because it was not artistic enough to stand on public land. Now, our tribute to the 70 Rockaway residents who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center is on hold, perhaps permanently. The Firefighter’s Tribute, in the same park, is on hold as well. Those who lost a family member in the attack are devastated, especially when they read daily of other "memorials" that are moving ahead with no problems. Those who donated to the park are angry. Those who worked so hard to make the park a reality are chagrined that this happened so far along in the process. Does this all mean that the park may never get built? Once again, the city has kicked Rockaway in the teeth, and we have to ask, "Why us?"

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