2004-06-25 / Editorial/Opinion


Get The Streets Right
Dear Editor;

Get The Streets Right

Dear Editor;

This letter is to keep our community informed, as we continue our never ending journey toward our parking being restored on Rockaway Beach Blvd. from Beach 125 Street to Beach 130 Street.

On Tues., June 15, we received through E-mail a response from C.B. 14, concerning our first transportation committee meeting. The E-mail stated C.B. 14 transportation committee will plan to set a date in late July. C.A.N.P.A.S. was disappointed that we must wait until the end of July for our first meeting. Unfortunately we do not have any control regarding the date set.

Within the E-mail Jonathan Gaska C.B. 14 District Manager referred to Beach 125 St. through Beach 128 St. as the streets involved in this parking issue.

This is not accurate as per the C.B. meeting on Tues. June 8, we clearly stated the streets in question are Beach 125 St. through Beach 130 St, those streets are to be discussed at the committee meetings.

Once again to clarify Belle Harbor Property Owners Association only accepts members from Beach 130 St. and up. We do not challenge the interruption of where Belle Harbor begins. Our Coalition and the majority of the Rockaway Park Community, Beach 125 St. through Beach 130 street demand the restoration of our original parking restrictions May 15 - Sept. 30, Sat. Sun & Holidays

On June 13, the Ruscillo's received a letter from Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer to quote Assemblywoman Pheffer "I am confident that through this process, all of the area residents will have an opportunity to voice their concerns." The process referred to by our Assemblywoman is the C.B. 14 transportation committee meetings. We are also optimistic that the transportation committee will listen and agree to the needs of the Rockaway Park Community from Beach 125 St. - Beach 130 St.


Great Lifeguards!

Dear Editor,

Kudos goes out to the Beach 86 Street lifeguards on duty last Saturday, June 12. The lifeguards from this shack helped apprehend some young teenage boys that stole items from a bag that belonged to a female surfer.

While the woman was out surfing, the boys rummaged through her bag to find a cell phone, an undisclosed amount of money and a wallet. Some of the Beach 86 Street lifeguards who were on break at the time chased the thieves on foot managing to assist the police officers that quickly came on the scene. A 15-year old boy was arrested and the woman's cell phone was recovered from his pocket.

The lifeguards (they know who they are) did a fine job protecting the beaches on Saturday. All of this was done in an effort to "right a wrongdoing," despite some racial epithets being slurred in their direction by a Parks Department employee because of the color of the lifeguards' skin differed from that of the thieves.

The lifeguards guarding our beach should be commended for their hard work each and every day. Unfortunately, this was not the case on Saturday when these lifeguards helped the woman surfer retrieve the items that were stolen from her bag. It is a great misfortune that in this great community that when "righting a wrong" the issue of race becomes apparent.

I was saddened to see such a display of racial prejudice coming from a uniformed Parks Department employee. After going home with my two children that day, I was still quite shocked at the loud threatening words shouted publicly from this particular employee. I would have imagined that she would have been sensitive to years of racial inequality. We may have spent years trying to reach racial equality in this world, but apparently we still have far to go in some of our city agencies.


Beach 116 Street Needs Help

Dear Editor;

Not only can we not find parking on Beach 116, but now we can barely walk. There seems to be an extraordinary amount of clutter and junk taking up our public sidewalks that hasn't left room for our feet!

Please tell me that there are zoning laws in effect somewhere in NYC that can help us. I know that restaurants are required to have permits for outside areas, does that hold true for stationary stores and others? There must be some sort of law which these stores need to abide by.  Looking at Beach 116 Street everyday and watching it disintegrate into an abhorrent mess has become rather mundane.   

How many more issues need to be written about in order for someone to take notice. Let's all wake up and realize politicians are not going to help our area change unless we really fight for it. Some seem to be concerned for bigger issues like pools and a ferry!! We need  to take real action here and get people in office that might actually care about helping Rockaway. Let's all take one giant step for our community, provided we have room on the sidewalk.


Why Selective Enforcement?

Dear Editor,

Here we go again! I had read in the paper that this summer we would have enough lifeguards and that we would not be harassed about boogie boarding in Rockaway. What happened?. Beach 101-104 are closed during the weekdays! Beach 104  has an access ramp and 3 buildings of ROCKAWAY families with children who want to utilize OUR beach. Why are 4 consecutive beaches closed? Why are their five lifeguards on beach 105? Why can't the lifeguard who is on foot kicking out the boogie boarders and swimmers on beach 104 just sit up on the lifeguard chair at 104? Who is making these decisions and why? Why all of a sudden on June 16 does someone decide  we can't use our boogie boards? Why the selective enforcement? We need answers not inconsistent excuses.   It is so frustrating to watch my neighbors and friends have to lug their children and wagons on to an overcrowded adjacent beach. I called Addabbo's office and was told by Sandy that he could not do anything about it . I called Lew Simon and he told me that Addabbo could do something but he doesn't. 

We were assured by Addabbo that we were not going to be harassed again like last summer. We are sick and tired of being harassed when we want to boogie board. Rockaway's children look forward to boogie boarding in the summer. Why take that away from them? It makes no sense. It is hurting them. Addabbo, are your listening? Let our children have the  freedom to boogie board.  They don't have these ridiculous problems in other beach communities I have visited. Enough is enough.  Give us back our beaches!


Archaic Beach Laws

Dear Editor;

It is apparent that the community's requests to lighten up on some of the PEP enforcement on our beaches and boardwalks are going unheeded by our local officials. We've moaned and complained in the newspapers. We had a large demonstration to voice our disdain for laws that are unequally enforced throughout the city. This plight has reached the front pages of daily, weekly and even international newspapers, apparently falling on deaf ears.

Now, the east end fishermen are being harassed. The waters where they fish are unsuitable for bathing because of the deep channel and fast currents by the inlet. Ladies and gentlemen, we have no fishing pier. Until only recently did Rockaway have a boat launch for the first time in years. Besides, the majority of people who surf fish purposely choose to endeavor that type of sport - similar to those who like to fly fish. You would be surprised at the knowledge and intellect of those true surf fishermen. They are not the slobs who litter our beaches and bays or destroy property. You would also be surprised at their tenacity too.

My suggestion is for everyone to go down to Coney Island and observe what goes on at those beaches and boardwalks, specifically around 9 p.m.

See if you will be harassed the same way you are in Rockaway. The surf fishermen have it safe there because they have FISHING PIERS IN BROOKLYN!!!! Unfortunately, the spots with the fishing piers only shadow the excellent choices we have for surf fishing in the Rockaways. Don't forget your camera too. Take lots of pictures of all the activities that go on there, especially near by KeySpan Park. Then make copies of your pictures and circulate them to every newspaper and television news program you can and let them know that YOU KNOW FOR A FACT that the laws in the city are not being equally enforced.

Going forward, two years down the road, people will be paying in excess of $600,000 for a small water view townhouse at the Arverne By The Sea project. Do you SERIOUSLY think those folks will put up with such archaic laws? Is the beachfront to this development going to be EXEMPT from such laws?

The local Community Board has been noticeably silent on this issue. As residents of the catchment area of Community Board 14, EVERYONE, whether RENTER or HOMEOWNER is a stakeholder in the community (don't renters PAY some of the owners' mortgage) and should take the Community Board to task to handle this issue for once and for all.

You can bet your sweet boots that Rockaway is purposely being ignored when it comes to bringing the code books up to date with the times and logically supporting laws that should be indigenous to our beach uses and our way of life.


Protect Waterfront Access

The following letter was sent to Secrtary of State Randy Daniels. The Writer of this letter, Richard George, is the President of the Beach and Bungalow Association.

Dear Secretary Daniels,

In your letter to Council Member Tony Avella on June 2, 2004 you forgot to recite the Department of State's responsibilities pursuant to the  Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, Federal Code of Regulations 15 CFR Part 923, cited below. As you correctly point out the local zoning is only a small part of the Coastal Zone Management Program. The local waterfront zoning requirements for
public access and visual corridors does not concur with the federal CZM Program and it is the State's responsibility to revise the local zoning and waterfront zoning to be in compliance and concur with the State and Federal criteria, otherwise it will make this program ineffective.

Ineffective implementation of this program by NYC using the local zoning that does not comply with the CZMA Rules and Program. Ineffective implementation and monitoring and enforcement by NYS Department of State, and ineffective Section 312 Evaluations by NOAA/OCRM has lead to the privation of the waterfront for developers profit and gain and to the detriment of the public, public purpose of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), the Federal financial assistance awards and work plans.

The elimination of 46 Streets in the Arverne Project, public access in
Wavecrest Gardens II on Beach 24 Street, which is subject to all federal and state environmental laws and regulations, and public access to Jamaica Bay with the Duane Reade project on Beach 116 Street, are projects that cannot be certified consistent with the CZM Program and enforceable policies and should not
have been approved much less undertaken.

Wilber Woods of the Department of City Planning should not be relying on the local zoning laws that do not concur with the federal CZMA program. Wilber Woods should not be the Director of Waterfront and Open Space Division if he cannot follow the law and regulations with permitting activities and projects of the WRP which by the way each agency and level of government is not following with development in New York and Rockaway.

15 CFR 923 923.42   State establishment of criteria and standards for local implementation-Technique A. A State must have a procedure whereby it reviews and certifies the local program's compliance with State standards and criteria.

The State must have developed and have in effect at the time of program approval enforceable policies that meet the requirements of 923.3. These policies must serve as the standards and criteria for local program development or the State must have separate standards and criteria, related to these enforceable policies that will guide local program development.

A State must have sufficient authority to assure that land and water use decisions subject to the management program will comply with the program's enforceable policies. The adequacy of these authorities will be judged on the same basis as specified for direct State controls or case-by-case reviews.

A State must be able to ensure that coastal programs will be developed
pursuant to the State's standards and criteria.

 Establish a monitoring system which defines what constitutes and detects patterns of non-compliance. In the case of uses of regional benefit and facilities in which there is a national interest, the monitoring system must be capable of detecting single instances of local actions affecting such uses or facilities in a manner contrary to the management program.

(ii) Be capable of assuring compliance when a pattern of deviation is
detected or when a facility involving identified national interests or a use of regional benefit is affected in a manner contrary to the program's policies. When State action is required because of failure by a local government to enforce its program, the State must be able to do one or a combination of the following:
(A) Directly enforce the entire local program; (B) Directly enforce that portion of the local program that is being enforced improperly. State intervention would be necessary only in those local government activities that are violating the policies, standards or criteria; (C) Seek judicial relief against local government for failure to properly enforce; (D) Review local government actions on a case-by-case basis or on appeal and
have the power to prevent those actions inconsistent with the policies and standards; (E) Provide a procedure whereby the responsibility for enforcing a program shifts to an intermediate level of government, assuming statutory authority exists to enable the immediate of government to assume this responsibility.

The New York City Council approved the NEW Waterfront Revitalization Program in 1999, but the new Council Members and Mayor are not aware of this program, which is NYS DOS responsibility to educate and inform through workshops, lectures and printed material. When will the State comply with its legal obligations under the legal instrument of the federal financial assistance awards and Education and Public Outreach requirements of the work plans and tasks approved by the Secretary of Commerce and NOAA. And NOAA with its so called
oversight and enforcement capabilities has turned a blind eye to, and left out of, this Section 312 Evaluation.

So, when will you send a revised letter to Council Member Tony Avella that will recite all your legal obligations pursuant to 15 FR 923, 922, and 921 and the federal financial assistance awards of over 2.5 million dollars each year and the 2.5 Billion  dollars of EPA Funds already spent to supposedly advance the LWRP and public access wetland restorations and park development for New York and Rockaway?


Reminiscing On The Past

Dear Editor,

On the last day of school our parents took us out of class early in the day to go off to Rockaway Beach. We packed up our car, and sometimes another car, to take us and our things to Rockaway.

The drive over the Marine Park Bridge and under the trestles was always fun. We'd pass 44 Street and Rabinowitz' house and make that great right turn onto 39 Street. There was our brick bungalow and the familiar street which we came to know and love like few other places, if any. Soon we would reacquaint ourselves with our friends from summers past. Kids from The Bronx, other parts of Brooklyn and the City were there. Stoopball, punchball, slapball on the beach, body surfing and swimming were only a few of the games we played. Stratego and Risk seemed to be played often.

At night we would have much fun on the boardwalk. Amusements, all kinds of food and lots of kids up there. People came by train from all over to spend a day at the beach. Crowds were on the beach and under the boardwalks too. Children unfamiliar with the scene would often get lost and require police and lifeguard assistance.

The jetty was a wonderful place to learn and enjoy the marine life. The art of picking up a crab without getting bit by the claw, catching a fish by hand, and scrutinizing hermit crabs, starfish and jelly fish. Understanding the tides helped avoid drowning as did knowledge of the undertow.

Some kids would jump in shallow water and hit rocks with their skull. One such episode was sufficient to alert the kid to never do that again.

Search your whole life and you will be lucky to find the peace, harmony and state of mind we had at Rockaway. Each day was centered around going to the beach. As long as the sun was shining, which was most all the time, beach going was the natural way to spend the day. Those of us who have enjoyed the pleasure of waking from sleep with no difficult obligations, no deadlines, no worries and a beautiful ocean and beach at our disposal, should all recall the fresh ocean mist and sweet smell of the beach in the morning, when it is too cool to hit the beach, but you know it will be warming up after breakfast and before lunch. It is waiting there for you.

Wave after wave, tide after tide, it waits patiently for you to call. To go in it. To swim, to walk, to play. For a minute or an hour it is there for you. Year after year it is there. Even now I know if I returned it would still be there - the surf, the waves, the smell.

As kids we did not spend much time bathing for sun tan's sake. There were so many activities to engage in that laying on a blanket was primarily done after coming out of the water to catch a breather or eat some food or some ice cream. If the tide was out it would be good for slap ball. We would make a field by outlining bases in the hardened sand with our heels. Usually three bases, first and third were sufficient unless there were a lot of players in which case all four bases would be made. I would still be happy to play slap ball on a beach if the sand was hard and players were willing. There was great strategy to dropping down a bunt and trying to beat it out and running home to slide at the plate on a close play. If you got too sandy, you'd just take a dive in the water and clean off.

Leaving the beach after a day of fun was also enjoyable. There is a distinct feeling we would get near the end of the beach day when the sun's warmth is replaced by cooler temperature and a wet bathing suit does not dry fast enough. This would lead to a sudden race to the bungalow to be first to get in the shower and insure getting hot water. That feeling of clean after showering, while sporting fresh sunburn or new tan, coupled with that hungry feeling and dinner cooking is quite nice.

There is much to do after dinner. The fun is not nearly over yet. Stoopball is always at the ready and manhunt can be played after dark. There was not much TV watching then. I remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and Sandy Koufax pitching and Willie Mays batting but not much more. There were records playing at times but mostly fun times were spent with friends and family. The Boardwalk became more and more fun and more and more Interesting as we grew into our teens. Unfortunately the damn "Urban Renewal" crap and boardwalk arson caused a gradual decline and general decay of this wonderland starting at the end of the 1960's and continuing until this dreamland was turned back into a sandy lot with the bungalows and boardwalk amusements demolished and turned into squalor.

Like Ebbets Field before it, another place of legend was removed from our lives forever. Sure there are other beaches or wonderful places to be in the summer or anything but those days in Rockaway involved so many things that many things that made it unique in the annals of our world.

We had a softball team, as small kids, which was created and run only by us kids. We made up the team, scheduled games with other kids from other streets, and kept score and had fun with no adults anywhere anytime. Kids ran the field, the games, the teams and everything. We would get players together in the morning and walk from Beach 39 Street to the parking lot on Beach 29 - Beach 32 Streets to play. Games would start at 10:30 a.m. and be completed before the cars came in for parking at the beach. I think we played on weekdays mostly. We also played evening games around 6"30 p.m. More adults and older kids came out to play these games.

The allure of the boardwalk was ever present. From dawn to dusk and at all times of every day, then and now, being up on the boardwalk was a pleasure. The ocean at night, with the moonlight, in the day, with the sun, at sunset, at sunrise, at any time, is a beautiful peaceful thing to see and feel. The ocean air, the mist, the cool breeze, the sand and the place itself make you feel relaxed and happy.

Coney Island had the Cyclone and Nathan's, but Rockaway was our summer home. It was there, always, day and night, right outside our bungalow and inside it too. Fireworks from Rockaway's Playland every Tuesday night, Jerry's knishes, Fascination, Faber's, bumper cars, archery, pizza, hot dogs, you name it and it was up there on the boardwalk and we loved it all. Each and every store. Why did they burn it all down? I will never know. Things happen. Life moves on.

Where for art thou, Rockaway? In our minds, our memories, our past? Or is it waiting for us somewhere else? At the seashore? With another name? Venice Beach? Santa Monica? Marina Del Ray? Miami? Fort Lauderdale? Your beach?

Wherever there is an ocean, a lake, a seaside resort, with laughing and fun and swimming, there is Rockaway. There has to be. Yet, like the old neighborhood that's been torn down or rejuvenated or otherwise not like it was then, there's that feeling. You may know how it feels. It was there. We know it. We just cannot go back except in our minds. Yet wherever we are, it is there too.

Robert Zitkowsky

Quality of Life Update

Dear Editor,

As you know, I have been having a problem with the parking of a commercial vehicle at a house nearby where I live.

I received calls from and have spoken with representatives of Council Member Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Assembly Member Audrey I. Pheffer. We finally heard from the office of James Sanders Jr. and they offered to look into my complaint.

I have heard nothing from the others, nothing!

While waiting for those that offered assistance to get back to me, I took pictures showing that the commercial vehicle in question, when parked, overhangs into the sidewalk used by pedestrians. I also did some research on the Internet.

According to the buildings website; www.bluelines.co/zoning-browser.cfm under article 11, residence district reg. We are a R4/R4-1 zoning. There are a number of pages that have references to parking spaces.

Page 57 refers to the size of the parking spaces to be provided. The minimum space to be provided is 8-1/2ft wide x 18ft. long. The space in question is approximately 8ft. wide x 14 ft. long. This alone means the vehicle in question is being parked illegally.

When we originally went to the police precinct, we were told there was nothing they could do as long as the tires of the vehicle did not extend onto the sidewalk.

Both copies of the pictures and the above information off the Internet were delivered to representative of the offices of Joseph Addabbo Jr. & Audrey Pheffer around lunchtime May 28. at approximately 3p.m. That afternoon, I called each office to verify their receipt. The office of Ms. Pheffer had already closed, the office of Mr. Addabbo was still open, and I spoke with the representative and was advised that the information had been referred to the local community officers who stated that they would make courtesy calls to both the bus company and the landlord. Two weekends have still passed and the bus still parks in the illegal spot nightly.

A complaint was filed with the building dept. over one week ago; they were advised that the bus did not usually show up till 6:30 p.m. or a little later. They said that was not a problem because they have inspectors working both days & evenings. The complaint is still open and it has been over 10 days & no inspector has come yet.

What does someone have to do to get laws that are on the books enforced???

Maybe the Wave should ask this question! Your help would be appreciated. Before I end this letter I must express my sincere thanks to the office of Mr. Addabbo for their assistance, time and effort in trying to get this matter resolved even though we have not yet been successful. As for the offices of Ms. Pheffer & Mr. Sanders who took the original calls, said they would look into it, yet failed to get back to me even after several messages were left and to those that did not give me the courtesy of a call.


An American Hero

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to let your readers know of the death of a real American hero.

Rosario "Bob" Catalano was a WWII veteran, a paratrooper and a prisoner of war. He was also a devoted husband, father, grandfather, friend and neighbor.

He was one of those guys who just took it for granted that in life you did the right thing. His country needed him, and he went. He came home, married his lovely wife, Grace, raised two children, worked hard and went to church.

He died on June 11, the day we laid our 40th President to rest. He was buried on June 14 - Flag Day. Nothing could have been more appropriate than to lay him to rest in a simple ceremony on Flag Day.

He was truly an American hero.


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