When Floyd Smith III received a letter in December informing him that Greenpoint Bank would be closing its Far Rockaway branch on April 1, 2005, he thought it was an April Fool’s joke. After all, the letter said accounts would be transferred to a branch about a mile away and uphill, considerable obstacles for this community of over 5,000 seniors. The bank announced it would close the branch in connection with North Fork Bank’s acquisition of Greenpoint.
Mr. Smith and other community members of Concerned Citizens for the Rockaways had worked to promote water safety in the past, but now they were faced with a new challenge in fighting to keep this crucial bank branch in their community. The North Fork branch is located just across a low-traffic, two-lane road from the complex that houses over 5,000 seniors, many of whom are physically handicapped and unable to reach the Greenpoint branch that is not only far away, but across a dangerous six-lane thoroughfare. After researching the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and talking to NEDAP and other advocates, Mr. Smith noted: “I got the impression that banks are obligated to be reasonable in their services.”
Concerned Citizens for the Rockaways collected hundreds of signatures on a petition to keep the bank branch open, and drew local media attention to the issue. In response, the bank pledged to keep the branch open three days a week at a public meeting attended by more than 200 residents, on January 12.
Mr. Smith sees the bank’s decision to keep the branch open three days a week as a positive gesture. But ultimately, he says, the bank needs to meet the community’s needs more fully. “Banks have got to start looking at ways of responding to community needs – more and more people are over 65 years old,” said Smith.
Concerned Citizens for the Rockaways is keeping its eye on the branch, and, according to Mr. Smith, will rev up its efforts again if people find the bank branch’s scaled-back schedule inconvenient.
CELESTE DAY MOORE
Parking An Issue Everywhere
I attended the Community Board Meeting on February 18.
The agenda was focused on the rezoning of some Rockaway neighborhoods. During the meeting a Community Board member mentioned there are other problems that need to be addressed. Parking between Beach 90 Street and Beach 102. Street has been an ongoing issue.
As a Co-Founder of the COALITION AGAINST NO PARKING ANYTIME SIGNS I was not surprised to hear a C.B. member make this statement.
During my last conversation in January with the Department of Transportation Queens Commissioner Moran, she also expressed that Rockaway has parking difficulties. Commissioner Moran said we must all come to a compromise.
Although our coalition is focused on the NO PARKING ANYTIME SIGNS on Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 125 Street and Beach 139 Street, it seems parking is a widespread headache within our community.
As of mid-February, we are still waiting for the meeting with the Community Board’s Transportation Committee, to finalize the decision regarding the NO PARKING ANYTIME SIGNS on Rockaway Beach Blvd. Our coalition members have been contacting us, they are growing impatient for this meeting to be held.
DANIEL & LINDA RUSCILLO
Everything Is Politics
The city has proposed rezoning a 1.6-mile stretch of the Brooklyn waterfront, including the fuel depot and the adjacent neighborhood, for housing and open space. In an example of how all land-use decisions seem to lead back to the city’s bid for the 2012 Olympics, the TransGas site in Brooklyn is currently designated for an Olympic aquatic center as well as a site for beach volleyball.
Jacob Riis Park located in the Gateway National Park system in Queens and Brooklyn, is in much need of repair with little funds and many, many acres of land.
Why aren’t the best natural beaches in New York City being considered for Beach volleyball? Why must we taxpayers spend our hard earned dollars to create artificial beaches in Brooklyn?
Congressman Anthony Weiner promised the Rockaway’s an Olympic pool as an early campaign slogan, here’s his chance to deliver. This whole Olympic thing seems to be more and more about pleasing a Manhattan elite.
Shore Front Traffic Lights
The following letter was sent to State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.
This is in reply to your September 15, 2004 letter regarding the traffic controls at the intersection of Shore Front Parkway and Beach 91 Street. Please accept my apologies for the delay.
We are pleased to inform you that we plan to upgrade all the signalized intersections on Shore Front Parkway by installing mast arm poles (to suspend signals over the roadway) and pedestrian indicators where none currently exist. This project will include the intersection of Shore Front Parkway and Beach 91 Street and is expected to commence in the spring.
Thank you for your interest in this matter.
CONSTANCE M. MORAN
Beach Erosion Must
Be A Priority
For the third year in a row, the administration has proposed far too little money to restore and maintain America’s number one tourist destination: its public beaches. Each year, we see the White House take a giant step backwards. The $46 million proposed for beach restoration work in Fiscal Year 2006 is one-third lower than what the President proposed a year ago and nearly two-thirds lower than what Congress approved a few months ago. That means less money to repair erosion, fewer dollars to restore critical coastal habitat and an attack on America’s economy.
Last November, Congress passed legislation that told the Administration not to make any changes in the federal beach nourishment program without congressional approval. However, that didn’t stop the White House from repeating its claim that the periodic nourishment of beaches should not involve any federal cost-sharing. Ignoring the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, the Administration’s budget proposal sends a clear signal that it wants to end a half century of successful partnership with the states, counties, cities and towns that has prevented coastal erosion and promoted public recreation.
We are extremely concerned that the proposed budget for the entire Civil Works program reflects methods of prioritizing that are at best confusing and at worst inappropriate and arbitrary. It is wrong to create budgeting standards that are both new and unrelated to the basis on which Congress originally authorized the projects. We call upon the Corps and the Office of Management and Budget to remove the veil of secrecy that shrouds the basic criteria it used to select which studies and construction projects would receive funding.
When the federal beach nourishment is fully funded by Congress, as we expect it will be, its total cost will be the equivalent of just two interstate highway interchanges. Americans should be appalled that the European Union annually spends 10 times what the U.S. spends to repair its erosion.
The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association will work with Congress to create wide, clean and safe beaches for American families to enjoy and which America’s economy greatly needs.
MAYOR HARRY SIMMONS
PRESIDENT, AMERICAN SHORE AND BEACH PRESERVATION
Never A Cop
When You Need One
I have a serious question about the police here in the Rockaway’s.
Why is it the cops are always around to give tickets to the residents that live here for being on the boardwalk after 10 p.m., but when you hear gun shots that ring out for about 10 minutes waking everyone who lives near by, you hear no police sirens.
Honestly I would rather see people on the boardwalk than reading about another murder or crime. Cops seem to have nothing better to do than harass those on the beach in the summer, to those with dogs. But when it comes to crime you never catch a cop around.
Dismayed and Astonished
All of us at Peninsula Hospital Center were dismayed and astonished at the recent article by reporter Gale Scott wherein eight New York City hospitals were listed as “ripe for shuttering” - Peninsula Hospital Center among them. In light of the fact that little to no consideration was given to the areas served by the listed hospitals (PHC is located in Queens County and not in Brooklyn), community needs, present and future populations and/or economic factors involved, we considered the article extremely irresponsible and divisive.
While it is clear that all hospitals face many challenges, Peninsula Hospital Center remains a vital healthcare provider to the residents of the Rockaway Peninsula and surrounding communities and expects to remain so for many years to come. We strive on an everyday basis to provide increasingly excellent programs, the very latest in technology and services not available elsewhere in the Hospital Center’s catchment area.
The consequences of publishing such a list from the point of view of only a few unnamed sources who may very well have their own self-interests at heart, are very far reaching and potentially very damaging. Hospital staff and their families, patients and their families, nursing recruitment and retention, residency programs, vendors, potential grantors, benefactors and more – all could be seriously and negatively impacted.
While there are some who may seek to divide and conjecture, Peninsula Hospital Center will steadfastly continue to work diligently with our elected officials, our board of directors, staff, our professional organizations, union leaders, employees, medical and dental staff, volunteers and auxiliaries and community members to continue the viability of the hospital and, we will do so as a team . The communities and patients we serve deserve nothing less.
It Could Happen Here
We mark now the passing anniversary of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. Is it sad that if a movie were to be made of that event, in a war that did need to be fought, today we would be afraid to show it on TV for fear of what our government might do?
Didn’t that happen to “Saving Private Ryan” on Veteran’s Day, when 66 stations refused to show it, terrified by the dark shadow of FCC retribution?
Couldn’t happen in the Land of the Free, you say?
Think again, before it is way too late.
How About Pearl Harbor?
To the Editor,
I’d like to ask Tom Gillen why he neglected to include the fact that Father John Wtulich is the sole reason the Yankees lost to the Red Sox.
Was Anybody Surprised?
Was there anyone surprised by Crain’s report on the NY City Hospital’s that should be closed? Of course not, and you knew that Peninsula Hospital would be on that list, even with the fact that thousands of new people will soon be calling Rockaway home. The sad fact is that Robert Levine and his staff have been trying their hardest to make Peninsula Hospital successful.
Some other important things to think about are, transportation, electric power, police and fire protection, and our infrastructure.
We can’t help our current residents traveling to work, how will we handle so many new commuters? Every time we have a storm in the summer or a very hot day there is a brown out in some part of Rockaway. Let’s add 2000+ air-conditioners into the mix and see what happens. The 100 Pct is always and I say always one of the first precincts in the city to lose men when there is a problem elsewhere. One call and Rockaway’s already short fire protection is a borough away. Our streets don’t handle our current traffic well, let’s add hundreds of daily auto’s to the mix.
I’m sorry for the venting but it all started with reading about the possible closing of Peninsula Hospital which has always been there for my family and myself. I hope all our elected officials are united in keeping this hospital open and also to have a game plan for all the other possible problems I have listed. Why do we always get the short end of the stick, here in Rockaway? Does Helen Marshall even know that Queens extends over the two bridges. I sure don’t think so. The only time we see any of the mucky mucks are for a parade or when they are running for mayor. We listen to all of their bull-s—-, and they go on there merry way. What can we do? Enjoy the beach and thank God for good neighbors!!!!!
He’ll Believe It
When He Sees It
Dear Mr. Schwach:
Your article on page 2 (and continued on page 41) of the Wave from Friday, February 18, 2005, had to be the most ridiculous piece I’ve seen in quite some time. You start off by trashing Jeff Vandam’s article in the Sunday, February 13, 2005, edition of the New York Times, simply because he got some of Rockaway’s ancient history wrong. You then proceed to correct his error by droning on with a small history lesson. If you truly believe that prospective buyers of homes in the Arverne-by-the-Sea (ABTS) development really care about the origins of Rockaway, I’ve got a Technodome to sell you. No, sorry these people are looking from the present forward not at Rockaway’s past.
You then go on about how there is so much more than just Peralta’s bodega & the Dragon Garden Chinese Takeout in Rockaway. Mr. Vandam had mentioned that these stores were the only stores within ten blocks of ABTS. Rather than jump on his oversight of the other “bodega’s and takeouts” that can be found just a few blocks past the dreaded “el” (yes, the other side of the tracks) you went on to question why he didn’t mention the “strip mall” that’s only ten blocks away. Lets be serious here now, the only reason it can be called a strip mall is because it is stripped of stores. That “large super market” you mention (C Town) in nothing more than an oversized bodega. Then there is the restaurant you mentioned, which if I’m not mistaken is actually simply called The Restaurant. Lets just say that most people I know that have eaten there, myself included, have eaten there only once, enough said on that.
Mr. Vandam writes, “A small ‘’Comfort Station’’ sits on the boardwalk just off Beach 73rd Street; a weathered sign above the boarded-up restrooms says they are ‘’temporarily closed.’’ “You then question why he would expect a comfort station to be open in February. Well, could you please tell me when the last time you saw that so called comfort station opened during ANY month of the year? I had thought that was an abandoned lifeguard shack.
You ask if Vandam would label Neponsit as desolate because it has no stores. Well, the fact of the matter is that the hoity-toity rich people of Neponsit have no need of nearby stores because they can simply send the servants out to shop. Young families just buying into ABTS will not have the same luxuries.
Now, let’s be honest here. ABTS, if it does come to full fruition, would be a beautiful thing. However, Vandam was correct when he called ABTS the “Land of 1000 Schemes”. Quite a few homes have gone up and been sold already and things seem to be proceeding nicely. However, I have yet to see one new store go up. Looking at the site plan on the ABTS website I notice that the tiny strip that Peraltas and Dragon Garden sit on is not part of this grand scheme, but when I talked to the owner of Peralta’s he said no one has approached him about what the future holds. The ABTS has an artists rendering a YMCA which according to the site plan will sit on what is now a rinky dink farm and soup kitchen. One might think that if there was a certainty of a YMCA that they would start the development of ABTS with said YMCA, but every mention of it I’ve seen so far has only said that it is a proposed YMCA. I’ve called the US YMCA (their headquarters in Chicago) to see if they have heard anything about this. They said they will get back to me, no response yet, hmmm.
Another worry I have is that the entire development is supposed to have the Beach 67 Street subway station as its “transportation hub”, the focal point of a sort of village square. Now, call me crazy but, shouldn’t they have started work on upgrading the so called “transportation hub” before building houses on the outer edges of the development. But then, we must remember that this is Rockaway so I guess the developers are just trying to make sure they make at least some money before the bottom falls out of this scheme as well.
I think I can safely say I speak for most longtime Rockawayites when I say “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
WILLIAM J. MOLLOY
Thanks To Community
The writer of this letter is the niece of Police Officer Robert Sorrentino, who was killed in Far Rockaway 25 years ago. One of the men convicted for his murder was up for parole in early February, but it was denied.
I just wanted to thank everyone who signed this petition, wrote a letter of their own to the parole board, and voiced their support on message boards and websites. Aside from living with the murder of my uncle for the past twenty-five years, my family has been reliving April 1980 all over again with the prospect of Carroll’s parole.
I am grateful for the community of people from across the country and beyond who have assisted me in my efforts with this petition, and who have offered their indignation, outrage, sympathy and support. Too many times victims and victim’s families are called to defend themselves when it should be the other way around, and without your support, all of this would have been an impossibility.
Boycott The Wave
Dear Mr. Schwach;
How can I say how disappointed many people in Broad Channel are right now. My phone rang at about ten AM asking if I had read your editorial. If you are going to make a point about Catholic vs. public education make some valid points:
The story about the boys from Breezy and Belle Harbor stated that the Breezy boys were from SFDS you never mentioned where the Belle Harbor boys attended school. That is a territorial thing boys do and should be disciplined by their parents.
You should also know that a similar incident happened in Broad Channel recently with graduates of PS 47 intimidating some Belle Harbor youngsters asking them to leave our town. That has more to do with parenting than schooling. I make sure my daughters attend varying activities outside of school that keeps their minds open. For example our BCAC swim team is very culturally diverse with students from St. Rose and St. Camillus. We have African Americans and Hispanics on that team. We also have quite a few young African American boys who play on the BCAC Little League, football and the BCAC CYO basketball team. My daughter also plays AAU basketball and a Muslim girl just joined the team and the girls are learning about her culture. She has a strict dress code, her uniform has to go below her knees and she is not allowed to wear tank tops. The girls were very surprised but very welcoming of their newest team member.
Please if you are going to quote a “close associate” who responded to the closing of our schools as saying “The kids might be forced to learn something,” please put their name I would love to know who that close minded and ignorant person is. I am a graduate of twelve years of Catholic school, many people in Rockaway are, and I feel you insulted all of us. You should be embarrassed to have such an uneducated associate. I have told you once and I will tell you again it is a very good school. Last year’s eighth grade graduation class of about ten students had one young man go to Regis (the top Catholic high school in the city), four students go to Molloy which is very competitive and I know one girl received a partial scholarship from St. Francis Prep which is also a competitive high school. They must be learning something! My daughter received a 4 out of 4 on the fourth grade state math test and a very high three out of four on the fourth grade writing test. Those are the only tests that I know of that both the public and Catholic students take together. (if you remember the scoring system you receive a score like out of a very high number and she missed the highest score of four by only a few points) My first grader is at the point of almost annoying me everywhere we go telling me that she can read EVERYTHING!!! Please do not insult us the way you did today. BUT I know why you did it, you only did it to create the firestorm that you love so much.
Please do not put that in most of our neighborhoods public schools score higher than Parochial when I doubt 198 or 53 are higher than anyone on the Peninsula.
How can you talk about the meeting when you were not there. Personally I could not believe you were not there. I told you we have been told nothing of where our children will be placed if we do decide to attend public school. My mother in law is the Family Coordinator at PS 47 and she told me my daughter’s grade (6th) is full and there is also some kind of technicality that she cannot start there in 7th grade. (Ask Audrey Pheffer she knows) I had a friend who moved to Broad Channel when her son was starting 7th grade and he was not able to attend there. (You can also check this with Margaret Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org, she sold my friend the house and felt terrible about what happened.)
I do not want your tax dollars, I only want my $4,600 in tuition tax deductible due to the fact that I am saving the city money. What does New York City spend per pupil? I think it is more than that! You have to see that the region does not know what to do with the students if they still have not called me back or commented to you. I spoke with an assitant of Rita Geremita and was told she would get back to me in three weeks! We were told that our neighborhood school may not be able to handle all of our students and some of our students would be bused out of town. If this is wrong why hasn’t the principal or Cashin called you to say we all would be welcome at the school? Oh I love how you make a comment about the utilization of rooms! Do you know that there are no extra rooms at PS47? I heard the pre k is in the library. There is no more room since that school went k-8.
I have been in the Catholic school setting since 1978 I have no recollection of anyone being kicked out. You point out that that is why Catholic schools have no problems, we just get rid of them. My daughter has been in St. V six years and no one has been asked to leave (to my knowledge). With the whisk of a pen they do not get rid of the trouble makers. If there are trouble makers they have parent teacher conferences, receive detention, and receive punish assignments (two things I could not do as a public school teacher). When I was a teacher in the public school I felt the parents were not on my side. In the Catholic schools I have attended, worked in and sent my children to I feel that the parents are on the same page.
I know you are not for parochial schools, but I think you disrespected many people today with your editorial. You and I had a friendly debate many times over public vs. catholic but I felt we respected each other’s decisions. I felt today there was no respect . I will not be purchasing your paper anymore and I already posted on a BC website for support of this boycott.
Not To Blame
To Mr. Schwach,
I have just finished reading your column and am amazed that you seem to place the blame for the ills of society on religious education.
The actions that you describe as happening with alarming regularity are not caused by the neighborhood or institutions that these children come from, they begin in the home. Children learn what they live. Please place the blame where it belongs.
I seem to remember from my education (parochial) that one of the reasons this country of ours was founded was freedom of religion. In our democratic government all citizens pay taxes to support public education, and if these same citizens choose to have their children educated in a different manner it is their constitutional right to do so. There should be education tax credits given to any person choosing to do this. The only subject not applicable to this is that of religion and rightly so. All other subjects taught alleviate an overburdened public school system and this should be taken into consideration.
According to your article parochial schools handle their discipline problems by sending them to public school. If I were to use this line of logic then public schools handle their discipline problems by putting the child in Special Ed. (Oh, was that generalizing?)
Yes, Mr. Schwach, my five children attended parochial grammar and high schools and if they acted as the children in your editorial did the blame would be mine and my husbands’, not the neighborhood or school.
Happy St. Pat’s Day
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to our fellow Rockaway residents!
“May you find shamrocks growing everywhere you go. May you find joy in everything you see, and may every single moment of St. Patrick’s Day this year be as happy as a day could be!”
MARY AND JIM KELLY
THE VILLAGES, FLORIDA