2005-02-11 / Columnists

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

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

Once again, the city dumps on Rockaway. The MTA uses the BS excuse of the fire on Chambers St. as an excuse to stick it to the residents of Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor, Neponsit and Breezy Point. Up until a week ago we had 5 direct express trains to Manhattan leaving at 6:38 a.m., 6:59 a.m., 7:19 a.m., 7:39 a.m. and 7:59 a.m. They stopped at Beach 116 Street, Beach 105 Street, Beach 98 Street and Beach 90 Street and then proceeded to Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and then thru Brooklyn to Manhattan.

It was not necessary during this key peak period to use a shuttle to Broad Channel to change to a Far Rockaway A train which is always overcrowded and pulls out before the shuttle gets there. Coming home is another sheer nightmare. People will hop on an A train to Far Rockaway, Euclid Avenue, or Lefferts Boulevard and have to change at Euclid Avenue or Rockaway Boulevard and then wait for the shuttle at Broad Channel. We are the end of the line for the A train. Why are we always punished?

On Thursday February 3 at 4:30 p.m. I spoke to Borough President Helen Marshall concerning the A express to Rockaway Park. She took my call immediately. When I explained the situation it seemed she confused the problem with the constant track work which we discussed at our December meeting. Would you believe nobody notified the Borough President of the suspension of the direct express service to Rockaway Park?

Helen Marshall said she would immediately reach out to MTA Executive Director Katie Lapp. As you all know I have no patience to wait for a phone call. The pit bull in me came out. My teeth were ready to bite. At 4:55 p.m. I placed a call to Katie Lapp. She said she had just gotten off the phone with Helen Marshall.

  Lapp thought the Rockaway Park A train was not running at all. We had to explain the situation again. She said she would immediately contact Larry Reuter, President of NYC Transit. Borough President Marshall called me back at 5:12 p.m. asking what are the Rockaway Park stops. We explained from A to Z and I thanked and blessed her from the bottom of my heart for her prompt response on behalf of our constituents.

At 5:56 PM Katie Lapp called back to tell me that she spoke to Larry Reuter and I was told that on Friday Lois Tendler, government and community relations liaison of MTA, would call me. At 3:55 p.m. Friday, Tendler and Larry Gould called on speakerphone together. After half an hour of going back and forth, he stated that East New York and other areas did not have service. My answer was I couldn’t care less about lack of service in any other area, but the area I’m concerned with. He also stated that he had people checking out the problem.

We urge you to contact Gould at larrygould@nyct. com or try www.mta.nyc.ny. us. Continue to dial 311 and ask for our service to be restored. If it is not restored by February 22, I urge everyone to take some time off from work and sign up to speak at the MTA monthly meeting. You must be at 347 Madison Avenue before 9:30 a.m. The meeting begins at 10 a.m.

I know what you are thinking. Why should I have to lose pay to speak for my rights? Why can’t we do this during evening hours after work? Unfortunately this is not a public hearing, nor will they schedule a public hearing. We must take advantage and let the bigwigs know that Rockaway will not be dumped on any more.

We would like to congratulate Jeff Duran, son of Gertrudis Hernandez, guidance counselor at Beach Channel High School, for being named student of the month at St. Camillus for the month of January. We are so proud of his academic standing.

We are so saddened by the loss of Anne DiCanio, sister of Joseph DiCanio and sister-in-law of Roberta DiCanio. As those who follow my column know the DiCanio family is like family to me. During all of the major holidays, Jewish, Catholic, Thanksgiving etc., I always look forward to spending time eating with the DiCanios.

One of the most special things was sitting and talking with Anne. Talk about one of the sweetest, kindest women you could ever meet. We always looked forward to discussing politics, city, state and worldwide issues. We even compared notes on diets. Just this past Thanksgiving, Anne was so proud that she lost over 40 pounds doing a similar no carb diet. Matter of fact we both drove Roberta crazy at dinner by not eating soup and potatoes which were not on the diet.

Approximately 5 weeks ago they discovered cancer. After just a few days of chemo, we lost a special angel. Roberta has been constantly running back and forth making sure she had good care, moving her from a bad hospital to an excellent hospital. Roberta is the best. You couldn’t believe how these sisters-in-law got along so well, since they were both only girls and had brothers, they became sisters. Their bonds through the years were like glue.

We are so saddened by the loss of this fine outstanding lady. We know that God has a special job as a great angel in the in the kingdom of heaven for her. My heart goes out to the family.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday February 12. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $32 with $25 and a 100 minute phone card returned. We get 8 hours to enjoy. The next trip will be Saturday March 12. Call 945-1216 for reservations now. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller held a meeting with community and civic leaders from across the peninsula on Thursday at the Beach Club. As we are well aware Gifford will be officially announcing his candidacy for mayor soon. He discussed many issues of importance to our community and city.

I will never sell my community out. We must be sure that we get a candidate who understands and will fight for our community.

I have just been notified that that the shuttle will meet the A train at Beach 67 Street, not at Broad Channel. If a transfer has to be made, it should be at Rockaway Boulevard. We will have a meeting of the Regional Rail Working group, the people working to revive the Rockaway Beach line, at my office at 5:30 p.m. on Monday February 21, President’s Day. We realize that if the trains went through Queens, as they did for some 80 years, we would have another route when a fire in lower Manhattan causes delays. In these days of terrorism the city cannot afford to have a system that could be blocked by one simple fire. Join us at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive. No qualifications except common sense and an understanding of the need for affordable transportation are needed.        

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