2004-11-05 / Community

RPHRA Meets On Ferry, Dunes, Parking

The Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents met on October 13 at The Beach Club to address issues of interest to the community.

The evening’s agenda included the dunes, parking, the financial report, and the slate of honorees who will be honored by the association at its December 13th Holiday Party at the Knights of Columbus. 

Invited Guest Speakers who made presentations were 100 Precinct Captain Paul Piekarski, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joani Omeste, Councilman Joe Addabbo, and Tom Palladino, President TWFM Ferry Company.

The question of the controversial removal of the dunes on the beach last summer was discussed, with the organization’s president, Edward Re providing documentation that the organization recommended that only one dune be removed and the others retained.

The issue of the parking regulations along Rockaway Beach Boulevard. between Beach 126 and Beach 129 Streets was also revisited.

Stating that he empathized with those who are impacted by the loss of parking along the Boulevard, Re also explained that the vote of those who were among the majority who voted in favor of the construction of the center medians must be respected. The matter is currently under review by the Department of Transportation (DOT). A report of its finding will be distributed to each association member.

 Piekarski addressed the issue of troublesome SROs and stated that a Task Force will be canvassing these buildings for poor conditions. In the wake of recent incidents at 123-11 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, the Captain stated that of the 39 apartments, there are only 13 which are occupied and that the owner is cooperating with the department in trying to bring the building up to standard.  Piekarski referred to this time of year as the “silly season” and urged residents to be more watchful for crime in our area.

Local resident Tom Palladino, whose company, TWFM Ferry Corp., addressed the membership about his proposal for ferry service to Manhattan from Riis Landing.

“It all comes down to the money and the politicians’ refusal to release the $300,000 that was put into the budget to subsidize the service and reduce the amount to a more affordable five or six dollars each way,” Paladino said. A non-profit group, Friends of Gateway, was established as a conduit to receive the funding; but according to Palladino, “DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, won’t release the money.” He urged area civic groups to put pressure on our elected officials, including Congressman Weiner and  DOT Commissioner Weinshall who is Senator Schumer’s wife.

Palladino concluded by stating, “the dock at Riis Landing is in place. The lot is paved. It’s handicapped accessible..and we’re ready to provide ferry service for the Rockaways, but the politicians are in the way. It’s your money and they won’t release it.”

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joanie Omeste discussed the Doe Fund, the Business Improvement District, and the status of Tribute Park.

Omeste described the program as providing those who are re-entering society with job training, living skills, and a place to live while earning money. 

“We were able to see the a difference [to the clenliness of Beach 116 Street] within one hour of the fund’s work,” she said.

The B.I.D. (Business Improvement District) provides funding for cosmetic enhancements to the businessarea, and works to bring retail stores back to an area. It’s paid for by Property Accessment Taxes.

“I’d like to bring a Starbuck’s, which is like the ‘Good-Housekeeping’ seal of approval of an area so that other retailers will join and take a chance to do business here,” she added.

The long-awaited construction of Tribute Park and its status was aaddressed.

Omeste, who attributes the delay to the DEC, explained that originally the revetments had only been built halfway because the DEC didn’t permit them to be built the entire way, resulting in much erosion.

“We had to refile our permits and now that that’s been done, we’re at the next step which is to put the foundation in for the Dome. The Parks Department, will then lay the memorial bricks, which have remained in storage at the chamber office, and will then make up the pathways around the park.”,

The Chamber expects that the planting and installation of benches will begin in the Spring. Although there is no set date for the completion and dedication of the park, she insists it will be worth the wait as it will be a beautiful park. 

Councilman Addabbo discussed his new legislation requiring Nurses in Parochial schools, two new laws that increase penalties for drag racing, and the ban on scooters and pocket motorbikes on public streets. 

He announced the designation of October as Disability Employment Awareness Month; and the introduction of new legislation that shifts liability off of the minor who is caught doing graffiti and places the liability onto the parent.

The Councilman spoke about the Flight 587 Memorial and stated that although the families want the site to be close to the crash site, that is “out of the question and off the table.”

Although he agreed that Riis Park would make sense as an alternative and it’s always available, it “looks like the site will be at the circle on the south side of Beach116 Street.” He concluded by saying that American Airlines will most likely be the entity that pays for the Beach 116 Street memorial.

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