2004-05-21 / Columnists

Simon says...

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Once again this year we have gone from winter directly into summer with no spring in between. We got weather in the upper 70’s and low 60’s with thunderstorms. I don’t know about you but I like the cool weather better.We look forward to a summer with use of our beach and boardwalk as well as fishing and surfing for all.

This coming Saturday, May 22 is our monthly Atlantic City bus trip to Trump Marina, leaving 5:30PM and returning 8AM. The cost of tickets is $30 with $17 returned.

We wish to congratulate James and Danielle Dengler Zizza on the birth of their daughter Amber June Zizza. She weighed in at 6 lb. 1 oz. and 18 1/2 inches.

We wish to correct an error in my last column. It was my late mother’s Girl Flag that was presented to the St. Camillus Girl Scouts. They include Troops 4524, 4534 and 4544.

This past Thursday evening the Good Government Regular Democratic club expected Queens Department of Transportation Commissioner Connie Moran to help answer many questioned that plague our district. Connie was called by Mayor Bloomberg to be with him at a meeting in Kew Gardens. Her replacement for the night was G. Peter Goslett, Community Affairs Director at the Queens office. Commissioner Moran told us she would be available at any other time to come back and speak.

Goslett told us that the DOT’s job is to make sure street signs and parking signs are up and legible, that streets are paved and safety zones are set up around schools. He said that they don’t control franchise buses, the MTA or railroads, only the Staten Island ferry.

We understand that the important decisions about the franchise buses will be made in the Mayor’s office, but the DOT does give subsidies to bus lines and decides where bus stops are located.

Among the questions asked were what will happen on July 1 when the MTA is expected to take over the private bus lines. The DOT could not answer. We were told on Friday morning by Commissioner Moran that she would provide us with the proper person and phone number to ask questions and hopefully get answers.

The second big question was about our local ferry. Will it be subsidized and have an affordable price? Mr. Goslett said DOT had nothing to do with it. We had to remind him three times that DOT oversees transportation subsidies. DOT will be putting out a Request for Proposals for operating the ferry as well as overseeing subsidy of the ferry. Our local Councilman claimed he has $300,000 and the Borough President has said the same thing. This would be a small drop in the bucket compared to what is actually needed to run a ferry.

TWFM Ferry says that with a subsidy they could run two ferry trips to Manhattan daily at $5 a head, yet nothing is being done.

Residents of Dayton Beach Park and Surfside told the DOT that they want to use the southside of Shorefront Parkway for parking because the average family has more than one car. Other questions concerned the need for speed bumps on Beach 87th Street, crossing lines at the new medical center at Beach 102nd Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd., a missing "No U Turn" sign at Beach 97th Street and Beach Channel Drive, and the need for No Parking signs from Beach 117 St. to Beach 125 Streets. The DOT agreed to follow up on a meeting at Beach Channel High School concerning the hazardous conditions which occur when the students are dismissed in the afternoon.

The Good Government Regular Democratic Club will be having its 17th Annual Dinner Dance on Thursday, October 21 from 7 to 11:30 p.m. at Rockaway’s own Beach Club. The tickets are $60 per person which includes dinner, dancing and live music. The honorees are Dr. Kathleen Cashin, Regional Superintendent Region 5, James Mahoney, Business Agent of Ornamental and Architectural Iron Workers Local 580, Charlotte Kulovany, community activist, Steven Greenberg, President of School Board 27 and Chairman of the Breezy Point Cooperative, Mae Hegarty, community activist and Miss Rockaway, Gerald D’Albora, President Dayton Towers Cooperative, and Grace D’Agostino, Ozone Park community activist and coordinator. Tickets are available by calling my office at 718 945-1216. The chairs of our dinner committee are Anna Bacchia, Barbara Kilfoil and Ginger Smith. Checks can be made payable to the Good Government Regular Democratic Club and sent to the club at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park, NY 11694.

On Tuesday evening Community Board 14 heard a presentation from Cross Island Y which has been chosen by Benjamin Beechwood the developers of Arverne-by-the-Sea to operate a community center for the community. We were promised this community center by Mayor Ed Koch about 30 years ago. They proposed a state of the art center at Beach 73 Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd.

The center will be designed by Donald Blair and Associates which has designed several Y’s in New York. It will include a pool and lockers, a cardio room and gym on the second floor, a daycare center, a ball field for Little League home games and parking near the elevated train. Large windows will make them visible to the public.

The main branch of the Cross Island Y is on Hillside Avenue in Bellerose. They operate a Beacon program at M.S. 210 and other school programs at PS 197 and PS 156, Senior Adult programs and a Special Olympics training center. They have a 7 1/2 million dollar budget and share resources with other Y’s. They are a non-profit organization and must raise enough money to cover their expenses. They expect to run a deficit in Rockaway in the first few years and they ask for donations from the community to support After School Child Care, Summer Camp and other value-based programs.

The Y expects to hire most of their staff in our community. They have a Board of Directors and propose to have an Advisory Board in Rockaway.

They are asking for committees of volunteers as well. James L. Sanders (not the City Councilman) is the Executive Director. We are concerned that the cost of membership in the Y will be too high for some of our residents.

The costs include a $55 initiation fee and a monthly rate of $80 for a family, $47 for adults, $38 Seniors over 65, $66 for Senior Couples, $20 for Teens and $15 for Youth under 11. The initiation is $80 in all adult categories. There are additional fees for most activities. Some are a teenage cooking course which costs $85 for members, an 8 lesson swimming course for members at $68 and Microsoft Windows course for members at $88. The costs for the courses for persons who do not have full Y membership is higher.

It is quite obvious that families and seniors with low income will not be able to afford these programs. Many years ago the Hartmen Y on Hartmen Lane in Far Rockaway was cost prohibitive to many families.

As a youth I could not partake in those activities.

We definitely welcome the fact there will be a place for all to go to, but we need to come up with scholarships and assistance programs to make the programs available to all.

We must all work to see that the programs at the new Y will be available to tall the people who live in Rockaway on a sliding scale that they can afford.

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