Borough President Addresses Tough Issues During Rockaway Appearance
By Miriam Rosenberg
It was standing room only as Queens Borough President Helen Marshall spoke at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club on December 2. During Marshall’s first appearance at the club in four years, she addressed such issues as transportation, overdevelopment, education and the future of the old Beach 91 Street courthouse.
Marshall said the old courthouse would become the home for the newest college in the City University of New York (CUNY) system.
She explained that engineers have looked at the courthouse and $3 million have been put aside for the reconstruction. Until the courthouse is ready, the college will be housed in PS 180 and she has given $150,000 to set the school up there.
“It will not be a full college right away, but [people] will be able to register and take courses there,” said Marshall.
“We hope to open sometime in the spring, but we don’t want to begin unless we can begin right. If we can achieve that, it will be a great asset to the Rockaways.”
“I know that you have been disappointed many times. I don’t believe in disappointing people.”
Marshall said engineers, City Planning, the Dormitory Authority and School Construction have all been in the building.
“It’s a good sound building…. I told them that as soon as they get…all the [primarily studies] finished…then we can start giving them the money to do the design. It’s going to be in your lifetime and my lifetime.”
Marshall also announced a chartered high school for nursing would be coming to Rockaway.
The borough president spent much of the session talking about transportation.
The new deadline for the MTA takeover of the private buses – including Green Bus, Jamaica Bus and Triboro Coach – is April 30, leaving the area to contend with the old buses that are currently on the road. Marshall said the MTA has 100 good buses that could be leased to the private companies to replace some of the current fleet.
“I cannot allow people in Queens to go through a whole winter,” said Marshall. “I’m asking for right now – let the companies lease these.”
The Wave asked the borough president when these buses would be on the road.
“It’s going to be soon. This is December. January, February, March – no new buses? No, that can’t be. I’m going to make sure it happens,” she replied.
Marshall also was confronted with the long-time fight to revive the L.I.R.R. Rockaway Beach line.
While she supported the idea, she would not let District Leader Lew Simon pin her down.
“It’s just crystallizing in front of me that this is a possibility,” she told Simon and those at the meeting. “I will stay in touch with you and keep you informed of whatever we can do to make it a reality.”
Marshall applauded Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Jr.’s fight to get ferry service for the Rockaways. She called the difficulty in getting the service a “prejudice toward Queens” and said the “city is not ready to give up the $300,000” it has put aside for the ferry despite a proposal by one operator to run the service twice a day.
Marshall was also queried why a direct ‘A’ train cannot run constantly to Rockaway Park. As it stands now, the direct train runs on weekdays four times in the morning and four times in the evening.
The borough president, who was amazed to learn that there was a direct route to Rockaway Park without taking a shuttle and changing at Broad Channel, called the 30-year-old situation “weird”.
“I can’t wait to see what kind of explanation they’re going to give me,” said Marshall.
The Friends of Mott Creek, representing homeowners on Beach 3 Street and Seagirt Avenue, brought the problem of overdevelopment to Marshall.
They explained that the builder in their area had violations and was not building what was on the permits, and they requested that Marshall help them get a moratorium on the building.
“It’s not legal, then there’s an issue of as-of-right…but this, for generations has been bungalows…now they want to put up apartment houses and we are on this little edge, the eastern end,” said a group representative. “There is water on three sides…and we think that it’s dangerous because, we think, if you pave all of this you’re going to have a flooding issue.”
Marshall promised to come inspect the area herself.
“I want to stay in touch with you about this,” Marshall said. “Let me see if I can get a moratorium.”
Claude Monereau, principle of MS 53, told Marshall about his school’s problems.
“From the outside [of MS 53] it looks like a jail,” said Monereau, explaining there are no windows or clear signage on the school.
“I will come, walk through and bring my education person,” she told Monereau.
Also discussed at the meeting was the issue of a Rockaway Task Force that Marshall said she created.
“We have a very good representation,” Marshall said, who explained that it meets about four times a year at Borough Hall. “We have about 30 people that come…including all your elected officials.”
As of December 14, Simon told The Wave that he has been told of no follow-ups from Marshall’s office.
The Wave is also waiting to hear from Marshall about specifics concerning the task force.