2005-04-01 / Columnists


By Joanie Omeste, Executive Director, Rockaway Chamber of Commerce

Joanie OmesteJoanie Omeste It’s time for me to give you an update on Tribute Park without sugar-coating it. It seems that DEC had a big problem with the new revetment that was put in place, even after we were permitted to do the work. The particular color of the rocks we utilized seems to confuse the horseshoe crabs, which are indigenous to this area. Therefore, DEC requested they be removed immediately and replaced with a stone chosen from a particular DEC horseshoe crab color palate. In a meeting at the site, in the midst of a heated discussion, our wonderful project coordinator, who is usually a well-mannered, calm individual sucker-punched the DEC representative. Needless to say they did not look kindly upon this. The Chamber is now in the process of removing the stones. We will have to apply for new permits and find the particular stone they are looking for, which I believe you can only obtain from Kentucky. This will impede progress indefinitely.

Some more bad news, due to extreme budget constraints and security concerns, Tribute Park will only be permitted to be open two hours per day, Monday through Friday.

The schedule will be as follows: Mondays and Tuesdays, Tribute Park will be open from 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:42 p.m. to 4:47 p.m.; Fridays will rotate between two schedules, the first two Fridays of the month from 8:20 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.; the latter two Fridays from 11:12 a.m. to 1:08 p.m., if there is a fifth week in the calendar month, on the fifth Friday, the Park will open at 11:00 a.m. close at 12:00 noon, reopen at 3:00 p.m. and close again at 4:00 p.m.

The Park will be closed on weekends.

On a brighter note, the Chamber has been working diligently with the Marble Union and is saving thousands of dollars through the union’s donation of time and materials. One caveat though, the Union has a statue it wishes to donate to the Park in return for its services. It is an 8-foot replica statue of Michelangelo’s David which was carved out of authentic Italian Carrera marble by the union’s very own artisan president. The Chamber’s strongest concern, of course, was presenting this to the Arts Commission. We held our breath and held our presentation on February 9 and I’m happy to report that the Arts Commission loved the idea and approved it unanimously. Therefore, in addition to the other fine elements of the Park you will now be able to view the magnificent David in all his glory.

It seems like your complaints about the parking on Beach 116 Street have finally been heard! The Chamber has just been advised that parking will be reconfigured to remove the cement medians. In addition, you will be happy to hear that many new additional parking spaces will be created. This is a very large project, which will take place beginning late this May and ending sometime in September. No parking will be allowed on Beach 116 Street during this construction period. In addition, the heavy equipment will be housed in the Municipal Parking Lot, allowing only a few spaces to remain open for patrons to Beach 116 stores. If the work is not completed by September due to other scheduled projects, the work will cease, but resume around Memorial Day of 2006.

More good news….work on the Lawrence Hotel is about to begin, but may not be what everyone was waiting for. Amongst the thousands of pigeons roosting at the old hotel was spotted the rare “Pigeon Van Dwas” an extremely rare European pigeon. The Van Dwas Society has filed injunctions on the Lawrence Hotel to keep its designation as a hotel, and has secured a grant to enable the new owners of the hotel to create a multi-level pigeon dwelling…the first of its kind on the east coast. The plans for this multi-level dwelling are quite extraordinary….like little luxury condos. A representative from the Van Dwas Society stated, “This is a giant leap forward in understanding this much maligned denizen of New York and the world.” Carrier pigeons, homing pigeons, in addition to the Pigeon Van Dwas will roost, nest and be trained at this location. An educational center to help enlighten students and visitors about our fine-feathered friends will be open on the first floor, there will be a nominal entrance fee.

Oh, and by the way, April Fools!

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