2005-01-14 / Columnists

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23 rd A.D. Part B

We wish all of our readers and constituents a happy and healthy New Year.

Did you hear that some people want to turn the old Rockaway Beach railroad line into a bicycle path? They are tired of seeing this valuable right of way go to waste as a dumping ground for trash, a shelter for a few homeless persons and a hangout for unsupervised teens. There are a few people who have extended their backyards on to the unused property.

While bike riding is a good form of recreation and exercise we don’t expect that many residents of southern Queens will be able to use their bikes to get to work in Manhattan.

On Friday our Assemblywoman, Audrey Pheffer, told Channel (1) that she favors reopening the Rockaway Beach line for the use of the thousands of people who have to get to Manhattan every day.

We have a great champion and fighter in our Assemblywoman. She helped local transit advocates get their message to the highest levels in the NY State Assembly. She worked with former Borough President Claire Shulman to get the MTA to study a one seat ride from southern Queens to Manhattan. I think it is preposterous that a small group of people can stand in the way of a one seat ride to Manhattan.

The other day Mayor Michael Bloomberg was discussing our one seat ride. Well, duh, Mr. Mayor, call us. We will explain to you how to make a real one seat ride to Manhattan from central and southern Queens with a link up to Long Island and downtown Brooklyn.

We hope that one of the Mayor’s people will read this and call upon us to discuss this.

Now is the time for all our readers to send letters to Mayor Bloomberg at City Hall, New York NY 10007. Tell him we agree with District Leader Lew M. Simon that the old Rockaway Beach line is the way to go.

If you sit now and are silent you are throwing away the chance of a lifetime. It is time to demand our tax paid dollars to provide better, safe, cheaper and faster transportation. Better transportation will also make our property values increase.

Please hear my plea and get started writing these letters. Send copies to my office at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive.

At this time we are suggesting that our Borough President choose to retire and not run for reelection. It would be fitting to allow our great Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer to run for and become the next Borough President of Queens. She is one who knows what is going on in the borough. She has her finger on the pulse of the people and her heart in helping all individuals.

We do not believe that Borough President Helen Marshall is helping our community as she said she would. At a meeting of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club on April 11, 2002 just four months into the Borough President’s term she stated that in the coming months a Task Force would be created  to bring together civic leaders from Rockaway, Breezy point and Broad Channel for the betterment of the quality of life in our community.

Instead, during the month of December 2004 we were fed lies that a task force exists and that it has been meeting. Yet nobody knows any of the members or when or where they meet.

Under sunshine laws meetings must be open to the public. Helen Marshall stated that they are open. We requested a list of board members and when they met. The Borough President promised to furnish us with these lists, but as of Sunday, January 9, nothing has been received.

If anyone can step forward and say they are members or have attended these meetings, please call us or forever hold your peace. It is quite embarrassing to this community that we’ve been hoodwinked.

We are deeply upset, as many of the residents of Roxbury are, that one of the nicest, kindhearted and loving priests, Father Jack Cullinane, has received orders from the Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese to leave Roxbury. Due to reaching the age of 75 he would be relocated for retirement in Brooklyn. He may be assigned to a Brooklyn parish due to the shortage of priests.

This would leave the family oriented community of Roxbury without a spiritual leader. The possibility of closing St. Genevieve’s due to the shortage of priests exists.

We are prepared to start a petition drive to the Bishop of Brooklyn, the Most Reverend Maurzio, to explain that Father Jack is most beloved by his parishioners in Roxbury.

If need be, we will make an appointment to join with the parishioners to urge the Bishop to keep Father Jack in Roxbury.

It is quite obvious that the parishioners and Father Jack are heartbroken. I’d like to weigh in myself by saying how Father Jack held the community together after the two little girls were killed in a traffic accident.

He served as a rock of strength for neighbors and friends. Father was even my rock as we fought with the Department of Transportation to get a traffic light on State road. I’m proud to stand with Father and the parish of St. Genevieve to keep him in the community.

On Saturday evening we attended the Beach Channel High School band fundraising concert for their Florida trip to Disneyland where they will lead the Make a Wish parade for children with cancer. We presented a $750 check for expenses donated by Benjamin Beechwood, developers of Arverne By the Sea.

This was a great event that put a very positive spin on BCHS students. It is imperative that we continue to support the endeavors of our young men and women who are the future. Send your donation in a check payable to the band at the school at 100-00 Beach Channel Drive.

There is a lot of positive coming out of BCHS. Hats off to this fine group of young individuals and the educators who play a key role in their lives. We are also aware that BCHS will become a school for performing arts in the near future.

We are saddened by the death of a very special lady, Ann O’Connell, widow of the late Joseph O’Connell. For those who remember Joe, he had a low voice, but great spirit.

This feisty man supported all great causes for the betterment of our community. Ann was a great religious lady who always had a cup of tea ready for you when she was sitting and watching the Prayer Channel. She was always available for words of wisdom. She was a wonderful mother and a loving and devoted Rockawayite who many compared to a saint.

Her sons, Joseph and Patrick, daughters Mary, Sharon and Nora, her brothers and sisters Michael, Sean,  Meghan and Grace are deeply heartbroken.

Ann instilled religious values, honesty, integrity and love for mankind. We know that Joe was waiting at the Gates of Heaven with St. Peter to accept Ann and welcome her into God’s Kingdom as a very special angel. The showing of the who’s who of the Irish Catholic community at her wake and funeral show the respect they had for her. God bless the family.

A very special happy birthday to one of the finest women in Rockaway, Dorothy Chirappa. She has a heart of gold and shares her love with her domestic cats and stray cats. Her devotion to helping  animals in need makes her special. God bless you. We love you.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Bill Diffley. Bill was one of the kindest, most giving persons you could ask to meet. Through his strong commitment to the Catholic Church he gave charity for all. He was a gentleman who loved his wife Cathy and treated her like a queen.

  Cathy and Bill were a lovely, generous couple like my mom and dad. Just pick up the phone and call them and they would be there to help. Bill always believed in fighting for his community and making it the best place to live. He is another man who could be made a saint. My heart goes out to his lovely widow Cathy and family. Bill will be missed by all.

 

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