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Recreation, Not Harassment
(The following letter was sent to Deputy Parks Commissioner for Operations, Liam Kavanaugh.)
As policy it appears as if the Parks Department is a Manchurian Candidate destroying not only the memory of Rockaway as a recreational resource but in the here and now as a one dimensional residential development is underway in AURA. The development hardly takes advantage of the seaside beach and boardwalk and even the Appendix M of the EIS admits the proposal does not need to be located by the sea.
So the Parks Department 1988 guidance map has become an omen for this terrible future time for Rockaway surfers, swimmers, beachwalkers, naturalists, etc. Rigid enforcement, thus, appears as shrewd policy even Spanish speaking tourists are directed to Coney Island of the Brookyn outer borough.
Who voted for this shrewd policy? At what level is it conspiracy versus consensus to direct Rockaway away from the tourist recreational economy? And did you know that the NYSCMP has accepted over 40 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Commerce for seeing to it that appropriate waterfront revitalization takes place and Rockaway is state waterfront?
So how does entering a beach and the water at own risk in off hours or on keep the Parks Department or police from ensuring safety under most circumstances? The rock groins were also built with flat surfaces for fishing piers and so what is the problem with fishermen and women using them or even wading into the water to cast their lines as has been done for years? Are you training your workers to be jailguards with stakeholders as guinea pigs for their degrees of comportment towards the public? So as a beach user/stake holder of the Arverne beaches (which is adjacent to the Beach 67 Street Gaston Avenue subway station), I ask you the following:
Will you work with the NYSCMP and other agencies to produce a welcoming and safe beachused environment and not a harassing one?
Will you provide a letter of discretion to the Chief Enforcement Officer (with police liaison) for allowing discretion such that the sentries on guard and on 4 wheel drive vehicles don’t feel pressured to harass beachusers away from the beaches of Arverne (with bird sanctuary areas still protected)?
Will the gates and locks be removed from Arverne and other stairwells to promote a friendlier atmosphere for beach tourism? Will you allow the public in streetclothes to walk along the HTL un-harassed or wade to ankle depth or to put down a blanket (can of beer optional even if it was sold at the federal Riis Park for beach enjoyment there or elsewhere.) Note war against family groups enjoying a beer on the west end of Rockaway while wine is sipped in Central Park, is a distraction to the prime issue of beach access promoted by the CMP (the tabloids though churn out the print about authoritarian tactics used.)
Thank you for your kind attention and concern.
BERNARD J. BLUM
100 Precinct Cruise
On behalf of the 100 Precinct Community Council, I would first of all like to thank all of those who attended our Ninth Annual Community Cruise for all their continued support. With good spirits, fellowship and picture perfect weather, the evening was a very successful one.
A very special thanks must go out to Tom Hennessey of Breezy Point Travel. Without his kindness and efforts, our cruise would not have been possible. After learning that Riis Landing was under re-construction, I contacted Tom and asked if we could use the same dock space for our cruise that is used for the cruise to Monmouth Park the following day. After some phone calls to the Breezy Point Cooperative Board of Directors, permission was granted to use the dock. Further arrangements were made by Mr. Hennessey for the use of the Reid Avenue parking lot and with Dr. Geraldine Chapey for the use of her Trinity mini-bus and a driver to shuttle us to the boat and back to the parking lot. Many thanks to Geraldine as well.
There can never be enough thanks or praise given to the Council’s Executive Board for all their hard work and selfless giving of their time. All I can do is try to thank each and every one of them – Nancy Woods, Andre Mangone, Joanne Greenberg, Liz Sulik, Joe Young, Terry Harris, Jerry Rashkis, and most especially to Sandee Doremus, for giving of her time and efforts and putting up with me.
Thanks also to Geoff Rawling and the artists of the RAA for donating the artworks that we raffled off; to our DJ Timmy Tubridy for keeping us all rocking throughout the evening; to the captain and crew of “The Mystique” for a safe and smooth trip; and to the many others who helped make the evening possible.
We cannot leave out our Community Affairs officers Kenny Beecher and Pete Rahaniotis and thank them both for all they do every day of the year. Thanks also to Captain Paul Piekarsky and the men and women of the 100 Precinct for the fine job they are doing to insure the safety and security of our community.
Last, but certainly not least, many, many thanks to Doug MacLeod for all the help and assistance he always gives anytime he is asked.
HOWARD (JATE) DOREMUS
PRESIDENT 100 PRECINCT COMMUNITY COUNCIL
Police Beach Patrols
On July 6, my husband and I were walking along the phone line on 106 Street at 6:45 p.m. We observed three Parks Dept. enforcers on quads telling people to get out of the water. When I questioned them, I was informed that this was their job and police van would be following them to give out tickets to people who remained in the water. The tickets would indicate that these people were trespassing in the water later than 6:00 p.m.
The majority of people living on the Rockaway Peninsula don’t have pools in their backyards. Many of our residents can’t afford to join pools at Dayton or Surfside. In previous years, residents would return to Rockaway after a hard days work and would be delighted to take a dip in the ocean. That’s why they live in a beach front community.
When I questioned the officers if the same rules apply to Coney Island, they informed me that this is another borough and there are concerns in Rockaway regarding drowning and law-suits. Another community activist told me that Coney Island beaches are zoned “commercial” so our rules don’t apply to them.
I’m urging every resident on the Rockaway Peninsula to write or call our legislatures and community organizations to stop this nonsense. It’s a waste of tax payers money to have three Parks Dept. enforcers on quads to patrol the ocean after 6:00 p.m. Get the police out of the vans, giving tickets to swimmers and have them patrol our neighborhood in high-crime areas. Let’s take back our beaches. It’s part of God’s Creation to enjoy all year long not only until 6:00 p.m. in the summer!
MARY DEVER KELLY
Giff Will Talk To Joe
Last week, I was invited to the home of a close friend and business associate to attend a ‘Test the Waters’ gathering with Gifford Miller, the President of the City Council.
After Mr. Miller made his case as to why he thought he would be the best choice as our next Mayor he opened the floor to questions. Not being one to shy away from controversy, I immediately raised my hand and said that we needed to sit down and have a talk as to why I was unable to take a stroll on the beach with my wife after returning home from a day at the office. Mr. Miller smiled and looked at me and said, “You are obviously talking about Rockaway”. When I replied that this was, in fact, the case, he added that he thought the beach issue had been dealt with and that there was an understanding with the police regarding enforcement of the existing beach regulations. When I answered that this season was actually worse than previous ones with the Parks Police picking up any slack being accorded by the NYPD and that Joe Addabbo was aware of the issues and was trying to find some sort of resolution, he replied ‘“I’ll have a talk with Joe and see what we can do”.
As someone who will certainly be asked to return for the next gathering, should Mr. Miller’s campaign proceed forward, and one who will undoubtedly be asked to write a check the next time, I intend to follow up on this issue going forward.
As a father of four teenagers, safety is of the utmost importance to me. As someone who enjoys the proximity of the beach and loves to stand and watch the waves crashing in - whenever I can find the time to - random and arbitrary enforcement of overbearing and draconian administrative regulations is inappropriate and has no place in this community.
We are the Association of Auxiliary and Volunteer Firefighters of Greater New York – a weather and special disaster team. We work with an ongoing weather station and we work with FEMA and Homeland Security to help protect our country, state and city. We are now in the process of enlisting volunteer members to join our organization.
Requirements are as follows: All new members to be active must be 21-65 years of age; all members must be of good moral background; must be able to give time as volunteers; must be able to take basic training; must be able to respond to most incidents as needed; we are also in dire need to get new members who can play a musical instrument (your own) to help us start an organization marching band. Members who are retired from the following are welcomed: FDNY, NYPD, EMS – Auxiliary Fire Corps, and other related agencies. At this time, we cannot enter any members of the NYPD Auxiliary Forces due to a conflict of interests. For more information call Chief of Staff Ray Lukcas at *82-718-241-2689, Chief of Operations Robert McCressen at *82-718-257-1007, Chief of Organization Jake Goldstein at 718-327-2888.
A Dangerous Situation
On Sunday, July 11, at about 3:30 p.m., while returning from Bay Ridge, and enroute to work in Rockaway, I ran into the worst traffic jam that I can remember in years, on the Marine Parkway/Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, and on eastbound Beach Channel Drive, alongside the Riis Park parking lot. It is the first time in many years, to my memory, that the traffic came to a complete halt on the bridge roadway, and, except for rain related flooding conditions, on B.C.D.
At about 8 p.m., in my employ as an EMT with the FDNY’s EMS, I was assigned to a “standby” in Riis Park, where my partner and I, the crews of 2 other ambulances, and the area FDNY EMS supervisor, witnessed a total jam-up of traffic attempting to leave the park.
It seems that there was a “Guyanese Family Fun Day.” It was on a permit with the Gateway National Recreation Area.
The estimated number of participants, per my supervisor, was about 100,000 people. It is my understanding, following the original Woodstock concert, New York State law requires that, if a planned event expects a certain number of people, they must have contingency plans for at least one ambulance to be assigned on a “dedicated to the event” basis, per each multiple of that number. They should have marked access and egress routes for emergency responders, and sufficient law enforcement and/or security personnel assigned for the participants and others protection, so as to not adversely affect neighboring communities.
This appears not to have been done.
The Federal Park Police had, perhaps, 12 officers assigned, their usual number for a routine day. That number was probably reduced even further, with officers assigned to the “Big Band” concert next door in Fort Tilden. The park’s First Aid attendants numbered 7. Ambulances from 9-1-1 usually respond to the park as needed.
That evening, the access to the park had been cut off by the Park Police, who, in my opinion, were overwhelmed by traffic control detail. The 9-1-1 ambulances were unavailable for the possible usage by needing Rockaway residents, as special events are usually either done by private ambulance services under contract to the event organizers, or FDNY EMS “extra” crews on “day off” overtime, using spare ambulances, as to not affect local community responses by emergency workers.
The event organizers apparently did not do anything for the event participants protection, and, due to the traffic jam, effectively cut off access to Roxbury, Rockaway Point, and Breezy Point, whose Volunteer Fire and Rescue departments were notified of the traffic only after they had already been isolated.
People who had come down on the Q35 were shocked to be told the bus stops running into the park at, I think, 7 p.m., and had to walk to the bus stop at Beach 149 Street, not to mention the buses were probably full, as well as not running on the Sunday schedule due to the disruption of traffic flow by the event itself.
Thank goodness nothing adverse happened, and all the participants I saw and spoke with seemed happy, if tired, as they waited out the traffic jam.
I mentioned the need for the preplanning as a part of New York State law. I don’t know if Riis Park, as a Federal area, has to follow this, as they voluntarily did with the “Nude Beach” ban years ago.
Perhaps 30 years ago, a radio station ran a basketball “tourney” in Riis, at Bay 5, offering free food and beer. The “tourney” went OK, but the food and beer never materialized. Also, people were still coming down to the park when normally they would be enroute home. The bridge had 3 lanes out, and one in, to Rockaway. The food concession stands were sold out, and when the “free food” didn’t materialize, the tills were robbed by out of control crowds. Someone tried to stab a lifeguard. People flowed out of the park, and started using private house walls in Neponsit as bathrooms, and using garden hoses as water fountains. Due to the jam up of Flatbush Avenue that day, the NYPD couldn’t get additional resources in, as nobody thought to redirect them to come down via Cross Bay Boulevard, or through Nassau County on Rockaway Turnpike.
The Wave has long spoken of problems if a full crowd at Riis tried to leave at the same time, due to a lightning storm. This time, we dodged the bullet.
If things had gone differently Sunday, people could have been badly hurt. I wouldn’t blame the NYPD, the Federal Park Police, the Federal Park Attendants, or the FDNY EMS. I lay this strictly on the event organizers, who didn’t organize fully or properly.
I do charge, however, the Park management, in the future, to work with event organizers, to work out these logistics before granting the permits in the first place.
One suggestion I have heard, would be to place mobile signboards indicating alternate routes back to Brooklyn, as via the Cross Bay/Veterans Memorial Bridge. This would have diluted the jam up somewhat. There are probably other items others might think of to add to this.
These are my personal opinions only, and are not necessarily those of my employers.
RICHARD C. BERGER