2004-08-20 / Front Page

Rockaway Neighborhoods Sprayed To Eradicate Pesky Mosquitoes

By Carrie Jones

Some Rockaway residents may be able to enjoy the rest of the summer months in relative comfort due to recent mosquito spraying by the New York City Department of Health in their communities.

A traveling truck sprayed the communities of Arverne, Sommerville, Edgemere, Bayswater and Edgemere Park on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

The long-standing mosquito problem has been a cause of frustration on the part of the community and anger against the city government.

This has been a big fight,” said Councilman James Sanders, speaking of the attempt by many local politicians and community activists to get the spraying program underway.

Sanders, who lives in the impacted area, suggested the city get a number of “mosquito magnets,” a machine that attracts and traps the bugs.

His suggestion was ignored by the “beancounters” in City Hall because, according to him, the “They have a hard time understanding that [the machines] would be a capital purchase,” meaning the money would not come out of the overstressed operating budget. The city agreed to buy one machine.

“We need to surround the mosquitoes with the magnets,” he told The Wave. “We need to envelop them.”

Sanders also said he “floated the idea of van spraying,” and said he would fund a permanent van, with the city’s understanding it must stay in his district at least 75 percent of the time. Because of the neighborhoods’ proximity to Gateway National Recreation Center, mosquito spraying must be done with great attention to ecological concerns.

“I was pleased to be granted permission from the DEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) to address the mosquito nuisance problem in this community,” said Heath Commissioner Thomas Frieden.

Residents are also pleased now that an end to their suffering may be in sight. In a letter to The Wave titled, “They Heard Our Cries”, Arverne Civic Association Secretary Sarah Colson expressed gratitude to all the local politicians and health officials for “helping with the mosquito problem.”

According to Colson, a long-time Arverne community activist, a number of politicians were active in getting the spraying program for Rockaway, including Sanders, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Assemblywoman Michele Titus, State Senator Malcolm Smith and Borough President Helen Marshall.

Colson sees the spraying as only a temporary solution.

“We have to bring in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clean up Dubos Point,” she says, adding that Meeks has promised to bring other politicians and the Corps of Engineers together to solve the problem.

“This problem is on the top of our agenda,” she says. “And, it will probably stay there for a long time.”

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