Who Doesn't Belong?
I attended the monthly meeting for Community Board 14 on Tuesday June 8. I went to support the Committee Against No Parking Anytime Signs (C.A.N.P.A.S.). As a Belle Harbor resident who currently rents an apartment , the parking ban affects me directly, and I am already feeling the negative effects. There were opportunities for public speaking; there were three speakers against and two for the ban. This is where I learned that C.A.N.P.A.S. is currently focusing on the portion of Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 126th Street and Beach 130th Street. This is a start, and I have a lot of respect for their efforts. However, believe that I am in the minority when it comes to ban from Beach 130th Street to 139 Street.
The two Belle Harbor residents who spoke in favor of the ban had very different approaches. Peter Larkin stated his case and, although I did not agree with some of his issues, he presented his opinion and findings while still respecting others' views. He was a gentleman. The second speaker was Hank Iori. He extolled the virtues of the mall's aesthetic appeal, then went on to say that those who are complaining about the parking are "people who either don't live or don't BELONG in Belle Harbor". I don't know what exactly he meant by this, but it is comments like this that give Belle Harbor an elitist and arrogant reputation. There were several gasps throughout the room when he said that. The bottom line is that he did not present a solid case against the No Parking signs. Judging by the applause received from all five speakers, the community is overwhelmingly in favor of lifting the parking ban.
I have to agree that the malls are nice. However, there weren't any safety issues when parking was available for several months before the signs were posted. If parking cannot be restored, I would like to see the right traffic lane eliminated for a bike lane and/or jogging path with strict speeding enforcement. While this may not satisfy those of us who would like to see parking, it would eliminate the speeding problem that seems to have gotten much worse with the narrowing of the boulevard. This is a unanimous observation among people I have spoken to, even those in favor of or indifferent to the ban.
A fair amount of Belle Harbor residents rent apartments in their homes. If these homeowners cannot guarantee adequate parking for their tenants, and street spaces are scarce (especially for those on the beach and 200 blocks), they will not be able to charge the rents they currently charge. This could affect home values, quality of tenants, and affordability of mortgage payments for those who depend on this income. I am a lifelong resident of Belle Harbor, and my family has been here for almost 70 years. I happen to rent and am against the parking ban. I certainly hope that doesn't mean that I don't BELONG in Belle Harbor. Perhaps by some people's standards I don't. I know that, in light of the ban, I would never take another apartment on those blocks without year-round parking. I would sooner go to another community.
MATTHEW E. MCLEAN
Explorers Program Gives Thanks
This past Friday, the 100 Precinct Explorers held their fourth annual Beach Channel High School dance to raise money for their program. And for the fourth straight time, the event was very successful. These events would not be possible without generous contributions and support from local business members in the Rockaway community. On behalf of the 100 Precinct Explorers, we would like to give a special thanks to the managers at Waldbaums, Mary Martinez and Mike Andracchi; C-Town and its manager, Rafael Diaz; Key Food and their manager, Mike Marra; and Steve and Kenny Good of the Beach Club. Our program would not be nearly as successful without your continued support throughout the years.
The Explorer program is for youths in the age range 14-20. The explorers hold weekly meetings every Wednesday at Beach Channel High School after school. At these meeting, upcoming events such as trips, dances, and the next community service. Trips include Radio City Music Hall, baseball games, museums, and colleges. Community service includes graffiti cleanups, beach cleanups, delivery of fliers or pamphlets, and participating in community parades and ceremonies. The program is geared towards adolescents who may have an interest in a career in law enforcement, or for adolescents that want to work more closely with police officers to improve the quality of life for their community.
With the support and guidance of the commanding officer, Captain Paul Piekarski, we hope to continue our strong partnership with the community to ensure the continued improvement of the quality of life for the youth of Rockaway.
THE 100 PRECINCT EXPLORERS
Reexamine Your Attitudes
In a recent letter, Jesse Plutzer took Harold Paez to task for allegedly being long-winded and getting personal. Well, in case others have missed it, no one gets quite as personal or goes on for quite as long as Mr. Plutzer, so it's a little hard to take such criticisms seriously.
Mr. Plutzer notes Mr. Paez' reference to Bush critics "predictable anti-American fervor" and asks who is Paez "to arrogate a definition of patriotism and Americanism from his own small mind?" Perhaps Mr. Plutzer needs to re-examine his own attitudes when debating with others? Given his tendency to speak derisively of others ("his own small mind") and impugn others' motives, I'm not sure why he should get his nose so out of joint just because Mr. Paez reminds us that sometimes such comments can give aid and support to those who want to hurt us.
This is not to say criticism is off-limits. That's what makes democracies like ours tick. But even free speech has its limits as the Supreme Court has noted on more than one occasion. Shouting fire in a crowded theater is not free speech but incitement. Similarly, repeatedly demeaning our government's motives by cries of "lies" and "fraud" and "greed," continuously dragging the name of our president through the mud, and saying everything one can to undermine current policies can encourage our enemies and sap our nation's will.
Mr. Paez was well within his rights to note this. Noting it is not to demean anyone's patriotism, itself a cry we have heard over and over again from John Kerry and his supporters whenever Republicans or others respond to Kerry's own intemperate remarks or remind people of how Kerry voted during his years in the United States Senate. Personally, I'm tired of this constant incantation of "patriotism," used as a shield by Democrats who want to be free to criticize on their side but forestall anyone criticizing them back.
And, by the way, serving in the military is not the only way one can express one's patriotism though I would ask, in passing, whether Mr. Plutzer, in light of his recent question to Stuart Mirsky, who writes the Rockaway Irregular for this paper, concerning whether Mirsky would send his son to Iraq, if Mr. Plutzer has a military record of his own? I gather from his earlier letters that he is in his golden years, a member of the greatest generation in which so many served. We already know Mr. Plutzer has contempt for the Bush military record. At the least, are we to suppose, then, that Mr. Plutzer's own record is better?
And I would ask the same of Norman Silverman as his letters share similar view points to those of Mr. Plutzer. If you're going to talk about patriotism and such, then we should put our cards on the table.
Thanks CANPAS Supporters
We would like to thank all involved with our Coalition's (C.A.N.P.A.S.) effort to have our original parking signs on Rockaway Beach Blvd. restored (May 15 - Sept. 30 Holidays and Weekends). Thanks petition signers, merchants on Beach 116th St., Beach 129th St. and Beach Channel Drive, for allowing our petitions to be placed in your establishments. A very sincere thanks to all who financially supported our full-page advertisement in the Wave.
To all the C.A.N.P.A.S. members who devoted their time on phones, walking streets, attending meetings, writing letters and collecting donations, thanks for a job well done. Let us not forget The Wave, our local newspaper, for it's continued coverage to keep our community well informed.
It has been a long road and we are still traveling, in the pursuit of our community's safety and parking availability. In the interest of clarifying our Coalition's position we wish for it to be known that the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association accept members who own property from Beach 130th St. and above, we are in agreement. The original signs must be restored from Beach 130th St. - Beach 125th St. Residents within this area are in favor of the original signs.
C.A.N.P.A.S. representatives will be members of the Transportation Committee through Community Board #14 which will be addressing this issue. We feel very certain with the community's continued support, in time our goal will be reached.
To all residents living below Beach 130th through Rockaway Park, if you are not a member of your civic association Rockaway Homeowners/Residents Inc. join, attend meetings, and let's be heard.
DANIEL AND LINDA RUSCILLO
If You Can't Stand The Heat ...
As the old saying goes, "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen". So, as we turn the political thermostat up a notch, Jesse Plutzer appears to be blowing a gasket. His last letter gave me quite a laugh as I sat on my vacation flight to the Caribbean. I could practically feel the white-knuckled grip of partisan acrimony on my shoulder as our plane flew over the vast expanse of this great country. Still, I had to write a response to his incessant falsehoods and outright hypocrisy. Allow me a few words about his muddleheaded mass of muckraking. First, a word about patriotism. Quick definition; love of country. No, not the politically correct version where the term is used ironically. Just pure and simple love of country. Mr. Plutzer admonishes me for calling him out on his lack of patriotism and his anti-Americanism. I ask you then, what is Mr. Plutzer advocating with his outright hatred of our duly elected President? What to make of his continued, outspoken efforts to discredit our effort against terrorism? What should one make of the way in which he consistently denies that over thirty states voted for President Bush in the last election? Despite the facts, he would re-write history, simply because it doesn't fit in with his world view; if we let him. The American electoral system is clear and so is the winner in 2000. Mr. Plutzer's continued attempts to deny and denounce that victory are simply anti-American in that he wants to erase the opposition's win. Yet, he talks to me about censure! Next, the hypocrisy. Mr. Plutzer is quite fond of quoting from the Bible and playing at Talmudic scholar, never once does he see the contradiction in that it is the Left, under the guise of the ACLU, that is systematically dismantling any and all reference to scripture in the public forum. And here we have Mr. Plutzer, the very definition of the Left wing in America, cynically trying to hoodwink us with biblical references and feigned piety. The hypocrisy goes on with his lambasting of my contribution to the democratic process in an open exchange of ideas as some form of nouveau McCarthyism. Logic would dictate that a person attempting to stifle opposing views, something he accuses me of, would not be bothering with letters to the editor. Still, he takes me to task for not placing the term: "nabobs of negativity", a common saying, in quotations. I'll be sure to submit footnotes and annotated references with my letters in the future as I'm sure he has. The only consistent part of his letter is the outright disdain for anyone who would dare oppose his views (could delusions of grandeur and visions of gilded marble thrones be far off?) and the entirely pessimistic view of our current state of affairs. Perhaps it's because I still have the optimism and humor of youth within me, but I'm not buying it. Afghanistan is nearly complete in its development of a Democratic constitution, Libya is giving up nuclear ambitions, a despotic ruler is gone from Iraq and what's this? The latest economic reports for May show continued huge increases in jobs production, healthy manufacturing increases, strong personal spending reports and continued low unemployment (5.6%). Oh, and don't forget the new government in Iraq Mr. Plutzer. All within the span of months. It seems I'm not the only one on holiday. Doom and gloom must also be on vacation. Maybe Mr. Plutzer just needs some sun. Sincerely,
Curb Your Dog!
Ed Shevlin's picture of Memorial Circle in last week's issue was great! There should be a "shame on you" photo every week to highlight the neighbors who deface our beautiful community by not curbing their dogs. It is bad enough they go to Memorial Circle, but those that allow their dogs on the lawn of Temple Beth-El - a house of God - should really hang their heads in shame.
To those that claim they pick up after their dogs - you can pick it up off the street just as easily as the grass - urine and other waste kills the lawn. That's what those big brown sections are on the lawn.
When I point this out to people they get annoyed and sometimes hostile. The senior citizen on Beach 120 Street who owns two dogs and persists in using Memorial Circle as his personal backyard for his dogs is especially nasty, and claims he is a veteran. I find if hard to believe anyone who served their country would dishonor the men who gave their lives for freedom in this manner.
The single most effective way of cleaning up the beaches was the issuing of summonses by our local precinct. Perhaps we should try this strategy here. Until then, keep on taking those pictures Ed.
Keep Fishing Beaches
For the past 30 years many of my colleagues and I have been fishing on Beach 13 and 14 streets without interference or incidents.
This location has always been designated a "FISHING BEACH". Only fisherman with fishing poles who are actively fishing were allowed in the water. Swimmers have not been allowed in the water in this area. We fishermen are being ordered out of the water by an agent from the Parks Dept. who tells us it is illegal to go into the water at this location subject to fine and arrest.
We have been fishing here for the past 30 years. We are now being ordered out of the water. We have contacted the offices of Councilman Sanders and Mr. Ward of the NYC Parks Dept. Due to the restrictive policies of the Parks Dept., fishing has only been allowed on 13th and 14th Streets in Rockaway where there is 17 1/2 miles of beachfront, and now this area is becoming restricted. We are long time fishermen, loyal to The Rockaways. Something must be done to keep our fishing beaches available to us, and get these ludicrous restrictions lifted.