2005-05-27 / Letters

Just The Facts, Please Dear Editor,

Please get it over with and rename your paper the Schwach Advocate.

Your political views and advocacy of certain concerns is hardly dedicated to the Op-Ed page, where it truly belongs. Your staunch support for CANPAS is more than obvious, given the fact that every time the Ruscillo’s sneeze it’s in your paper and somehow attributable to the lack of parking on RBB. The mere fact that you could take an article in last weeks issue on a questionable medical facility on RBB and 124th St and dedicate 25% of the article on the parking issue shows your true agenda.

Please be fair and leave your editorializing where it belongs; on page four. You can use your bully pulpit to rail against everything you wish, just do it where opinion is supposed to be expressed.  Do Rockaway a favor and just report the facts.

RAY MARTEN

No Parking Anytime

Dear Editor,

The following letter was sent to Jonathan Gaska, District Manager of Community Board 14.

I am writing to request your support of the above-captioned “No Parking Anytime” regulations on Rockaway Beach Boulevard which are currently under debate.

As a lifelong resident of this community, I have seen numerous changes – most of which have been in the best interest of the community. Removing parking on Rockaway Beach Boulevard not only beautifies the community, but more importantly it makes the busy boulevard much safer for drivers, pedestrians, and especially our children.

Since there is no designated bike lane, the “No Parking Anytime” regulations offer a safe area to ride bikes and jog, particularly for the numerous Belle Harbor/Neponsit residents who bike/jog Rockaway Beach Boulevard to/from the boardwalk at Beach 126 Street and Rockaway Park residents who bike/jog/skateboard toward Riis Park, as riding your bike on the sidewalk is illegal.

If parking is reinstated there will be only one lane, forcing cyclists, joggers, skateboarders (young and old) into the active traffic lane. If there is only one lane and a child runs into the street or a car door is opened (to enter/exit a parked vehicle), a driver’s natural reaction will be to swerve. The motorist can hit the median or worse – a child, cyclist, jogger or skateboarder. In any case, there is a chance of injury or worse, a fatality.

With the current parking regulations, there is clear visibility:

Drivers can anticipate the movement of children running across Rockaway Beach Boulevard, especially to enter/exit the busy St. Francis de Sales schoolyard between Beach 128 Street – Beach 129 Street.

Parents crossing Rockaway Beach Boulevard with children, carriages and wagons currently have clear vision, especially during this high traffic season as they go to/from the beach.

Motorists have clear vision as they exit their driveways.

Motorists are able to pull over to the right as emergency vehicles respond to a call.

If parking were allowed there would be no place for cars to move to the right, as is required by law. The delay in getting through could cost lives, even if that delay is only a few seconds.

Having no parking offers drivers, as well as pedestrian, a clear view of one another. Currently, visibility is clear when stopped at the corners. You are not forced to take your life in your hands as you try to cross/enter the intersection, as is the case at the intersection of Beach 128 Street and Newport Avenue, as cars parked in front of the apartment house block your vision.

I’m enclosing signed petitions from residents, many of whom are members of the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents, Inc., who may have originally supported reinstating parking, but now support keeping the current “No Parking Anytime” regulations in this area.

We all ask that parking convenience never come before safety.

Your support is imperative and I, along with those who have signed the petition, urge you to make our voices heard in keeping the current “No Parking Anytime” regulation in the stated area.

FRAN STATHIS

RMAC Needs More Credit

Dear Editor,

In the Beachcomber column of The Wave last week (May 20), you quote Borough President Helen Marshall as saying that she “reads The Wave every week” because it provides a full range of information on what is happening in the community. Unfortunately, sometimes some information pertaining to a specific article is left out. In the last two issues of The Wave, there were articles about children from P.S. 183 and P.S. 114 participating in the Music Memory Program at Lincoln Center and their being honored for the many Gold Ribbons, etc. that they won.

It’s wonderful to see these articles and to know that our Rockaway children compete so successfully year after year. However, the one very important element that is left out of the articles, year after year, is the fact that the Music Memory Program in our local schools is sponsored by The Rockaway Music & Arts Council. The RMAC is not looking for special praise, only to let our neighbors know that we care about our children and are trying to make a difference in their lives by our continued commitment to their musical education.

Each year the teachers in the schools prepare the program that the children will learn and without them the children would not be able to win as many awards as they do each year. We are thrilled for the children, but we need to be recognized as well for bringing this fantastic program to our Rockaway children.

Along with our Fall Festival, Sunset Picnic Concerts and museum trips, the Music Memory Program is one of the RMAC projects that your membership brings to our community. In appreciation of that membership we will be having a special evening on June 21 at the rededication of the Jacob Riis Park Bathhouse. Please become a member and help us continue with our programs and join us as a member on June 21.

SHARON GABRIEL

VICE PRESIDENT, RMAC

Knuckleheads Got It Wrong

Dear Editor:

It appears some well-meaning citizens have moved to erect a neon plastic McDonald Playland-like thing on the otherwise pristine ocean beach between 104th and 105th Street in Rockaway Park. 

What were the architects of this engineering offense thinking? It’s so bright, even the veil of night cannot conceal it. Is the great Atlantic Ocean, or her fine white sandy shores, or a sun and sea-splashed day with family and friends no longer enough to keep a youngster spellbound for the day?     

There was a three or so-year-old little girl who came to the beach one day last summer. She arrived with who appeared to be a couple of older brothers and sisters, her mother and father, and perhaps an auntie around noon. Her tiny figure poked through a brilliant aqua-colored, one-piece bathing suit and reigned supreme. She was the smallest creature on the beach, but her evident rank as youngest crowned her queen. Throughout the livelong day, she bounded through the sand and ocean air flitting in and around her confirmed admirers, without neglecting to impress her poppa by playing tag with the great, big, fearless, ocean. When the mood for self-pursuits took over, the companion pail and shovel were pressed into service and the beach ball was kicked and tossed and wrested from the ocean’s rim. Throughout the day, every member of the group took their turn in the Atlantic. There were sandwiches, beach balls, kites, pail ‘n shovels; endless stretches of sand, ocean waves, and blue skies that wrapped around everyone on the beach. Around two or three o’clock in the afternoon, a group of older kids set up a game of volleyball just about where this now stands. Everyone in sight seemed to be enjoying the beach alright. The family left the beach and their many footprints in the sand as the last embers of day faded behind the city.   

I recently learned this construction is intended to be a freshwater park. Of course it is. What else would any reasonable committee of knuckleheads erect next to one of the biggest aquatic playgrounds in the world? Would something like this not be better placed in a pastoral park where, perhaps, inner city kids can’t easily gain access to ocean beaches? 

I’m all for anything that enhances the enjoyment of youngsters, but this is ridiculous. A couple of junk cars would have more aesthetic appeal than this obnoxious material that fights with everything in sight, and wins. 

Aggrieved,

LYNN WASHBURN

Round and Round We Go

Dear Editor;

Residents of our Community may be very disgusted and possibly tiring of yet another letter regarding the NO PARKING ANYTIME signs on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. We will attempt not to bore your readers.

At this time it is necessary to clarify our position along with the reason we have relentlessly pursued this parking issue. Seasonal parking restrictions have existed within our Community for many years. The new Median was installed from Beach 126 - 139 on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. We were informed the NO PARKING on the Boulevard resulted from the Project Manager of the Capital Project HWQ331C advising this is necessary for safety.

Jonathan Gaska District Manager of Community Board 14, informed in 2004 NO STANDING signs were originally considered. In the final analyst NO PARKING was established. The Department of Transportation recent studies of the Blvd. state they would be able to restore parking. We find these two conclusions in conflict. New York City Department of Transportation does not find parking to be a safety issue, why and who originally claimed safety was an issue? It now appears the NO PARKING ANYTIME signs were never a true necessity. It seems to have been  simply a desire by some for their own agenda. The desire for the ambiance, keeping outsiders out and the claim of property increasing. We find the repeated statement of the Median increasing property value to be disingenuous and amusing. The value of property throughout New York City has increased in all areas. At this time the Median is a non-issue since it is here to stay. Parking cars on the Boulevard is the only question.

On May 19th 2005 the Rockaway Park Homeowners/Residents Association held their first meeting of this year. D.O.T. Queens Commissioner Moran was the surprise guest speaker that was noted on their agenda. Our Coalition C.A.N.P.A.S. (Coalition Against No Parking Anytime Signs) did not find Commissioner Moran’s attendance surprising. How wonderful it was for Commissioner Moran to

take time from her busy schedule to attend an evening meeting. It appears the intention of the leadership of this civic was not forthright. The members of the RPH/R were left in the dark, except for the chosen few. We are certain many more members would have been in attendance if Commissioner Moran and PARKING had appeared on their agenda. We are equally certain the Commissioner would have quite a different impression of the consensus of Rockaway Park residents concerning the NO PARKING ANYTIME signs. If Commissioner Moran had attended last years general membership meeting she would have had the opportunity to witness a vote favoring the removal of the parking signs. The president of the RPH/R civic chose to discount this vote since it did not favor his own personal position. The commitment by the executive board to reach out for a vote to all 600 members plus was never followed through.

In July 2004 when the Transportation Committee along with us and others discussed in length, this issue it was agreed by ALL to allow the D.O.T. decision to be final. The procedure was to have been another Transportation Committee meeting to present the findings of the D.O.T. The committee would report to the C.B. in order to follow proper protocol. Once again the leadership of the RPH/R is not in favor of the D.O.T. findings, that parking is able to be restored. AROUND AND AROUND WE GO AGAIN. Is this pattern beginning to sound familiar?

Unfortunately we were unable to attend this years meeting on May 19th, however from those present we were informed of it’s Proceedings. To the benefit of our Coalition CO-Founder Daniel Ruscillo had been in phone contact with the Commissioner prior to the civic meeting. The Commissioner presented the findings from the D.O.T. review (to quote)”that we would be able to restore parking”. This letter now in our possession also states “this location was part of a Capital Project where center Median was installed and at that time of design and construction was agreed that NO PARKING ANYTIME would be installed. In discussion with the Community Board it was determined that this change would be reviewed to assure that there is community consensus for this change.” Logically if at the time of the installation of the Median NO PARKING was for safety why would the D.O.T. be concerned with community consensus? Our question is does New York City Department of Transportation operate by voting of communities? A city agency functioning by community vote would render itself ineffectual. Our Coalition members and supporters are both homeowners and renters. All private associations have a right to limit their membership by the criteria desired. RPH/R Inc. includes homeowners and renters however it’s leadership is only interested in the consensus of it’s property owning members. It is unconscionable for any association to not represent all it’s dues paid members. The survey that this association would be conducting on the reinstallation of our original signs will be limited to only property owners. Perhaps the future intent of the Rockaway Homeowners/Residence is to disregard any member not owning property. If there is one thing Rockaway does not need that would be discriminatory separation of it’s residence. Contrary to the innuendo of some we share a great respect and admiration for Rockaway Homeowners. To stroll through this community is marvelous, to view homes with lawns well groomed, houses well cared for, streets clean and an overall beautiful atmosphere is a great personal pleasure of ours.

It speaks aloud of the community as a whole, the hard work and effort exhibited by most. At no time have we ever not recognized the rights of all homeowners, those considered newcomers as well as the solid long time residence who built this community.Our family members are Belle Harbor homeowners. Our desire is not to ostracise any, but to be fair, honest and truthful. Returning seasonal parking signs to our Blvd. will not decrease property value nor destroy our community.

DANIEL AND LINDA RUSCILLO

CO-FOUNDERS, CANPAS

 

Takes Issue With Re

Dear Editor,

At the last meeting of the Rockaway Park Residents and Homeowners Association held at the Beach Club on Thursday evening 5/19, many subjects concerning our community were discussed that I believe need to be further addressed.

A representative of Mayer Bloomberg’s office Constance Moran from the department of DOT came on invitation from the association’s board of which I am a member. Many of the questions asked of the mayor’s representative were not DOT related and understandably Moran said she would take these questions back to the city. However, many other questions were DOT related and little information was provided. I asked Moran what information she could provide to the community without deferring back to the city and what plans and programs the DOT were presently pursuing in our community. Mr. Re abruptly and rudely informed the group that the representative was obliging the community by attending our meeting. Does this mean that we, as a community, are therefore beholding to politicians who attend our public forums and that we cannot ask freely of them what the city and or its representatives intend doing for or to us. While Ms Moran is not an elected representative, she was asked by the mayor office to attend this function as his representative.

As the meeting progressed the issue of parking was inevitably brought up. Mr. Re, it would seem in his infinite wisdom, is of the belief that the issue of parking on Rockaway Beach Blvd should be addressed as a totally separate issue to the overall issue of a lack of parking in the Rockaway Park area. In response to a petition, presented and prepared by Mr. Re listing only the homeowners living on Beach 125th St. through Beach 129th St. and implying that this select group should be the only voice of any consequence as it pertains to the no parking ban on Rockaway Beach Blvd, I asked Mr. Re if he did not feel that the people living further east in Rockaway Park should also have input on this issue. His response was and I quote “do I really have to answer a question as stupid as that?” While somewhat taken aback by Mr. Re’s haughty, grandiose, and insulting behavior I nonetheless persisted, and will continue to persist in seeking a solution to the parking problem, that affects all residents in Rockaway, not just the parking problem in the Rockaway Park area (Beach 97th Street through Beach 126th Street/ 129th Street?) but the whole of Rockaway. During the meeting, and again after the meeting, I pressed Mr. Re on the issue. I asked Mr. Re what his opinions were in regards to the lack of parking available to residents of the co-op buildings on the boardwalk, explaining to Mr. Re that these buildings provided less than twenty percent of the tenants with parking. Mr. Re is a very intelligent man, albeit a tad dictatorial and self-serving, and his answer was both apt while at the very same time both ridiculous and absurd. Mr. Re, and I quote stated, “the boards of these various co-op buildings should convene immediately and pursue the purchase of any and all adjacent properties regardless of price. In doing so each and every owner’s apartment would appreciate at least $100,000.” Following his logic, by my calculations each building purchased by a co-op board would provide an average area (if they are lucky) of 4,000 sq ft, which could provide parking for only 12 cars at most. So following Mr. Re’s advice these boards would need to purchase three or four buildings adjacent to their coop building in order to come close to fully accommodating the residents of just one of these co op buildings. This, of course, would mean that each and every shareholder would have to agree to have their maintenance multiplied by at least five. A tenant therefore paying maintenance of $700.00, which is not uncommon in the area, and whose board followed Mr. Re’s advice, would now be required to pay a projected maintenance of $3,500 per month. This would be in addition to their mortgage payment. Upon further pressing Mr. Re I asked, what about those of our neighbors who cannot afford to pay these astronomical increases? To which he replied and I quote “then they shouldn’t live here.” Mr. Re should pay attention to the fact that many of the residents of not only Rockaway Park, but also Belle Harbor were not born with silver spoons. Many Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park residents have children whom, because of our presently over inflated real estate market are now purchasing houses further down in Rockaway (Lower Rockaway Park). Now it would seem at least from what I’m hearing that these very same residents that you purport to represent are concerned about their children’s lack of available parking. Please if you’re reading this and you agree or disagree, write to the Wave and express your opinion. Mr. Re, it would seem, appears to be the only voice on this issue, or at least the only one being listened to. On the subject of stupid questions Mr. Re can decide which category the following question falls into. How can you in all honesty having a PHD in engineering, and serving as Vice President of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, an association that refuses to recognize that Belle Harbor begins on Beach 126th Street but rather insist that it begins on Beach 130th Street, also represent in good faith, the interests of The Rockaway Park Residents and Homeowners Association as President. As an academic and scholar, Mr. Re should put his foot down and explain to those concerned that Rockaway never did successfully succeed from the City of New York and become an independent city and that therefore Belle Harbor should start exactly where the city of New York says it starts, and not where a few elitist individuals feel they would like to draw the lines.

Following this line of thought I would also like to ask Mr. Re what exactly is his position with respect to a solution to our present parking dilemma in Rockaway. Not just the gateway area to Belle Harbor but the parking problem as a whole in our area. I’m not saying that Mr. Re is required to have the answers to all of these problems, but I do think that since he has had so much input to date he may well be able to address the problem from a broader prospective.

When the malls were first proposed did Mr. Re inform the people of Rockaway that the next thing coming down the pike would be parking restrictions? I doubt it. The truth is sadly that we now do need parking restrictions on the Boulevard in order to maintain some level of safety for all the residents in our community. Would we have, had the malls not been built? I think Mr. Re is qualified to answer that question. On a finishing note Mr. Re stated at the meeting that he had personally down-zoned a property he owned on Beach 128th street from a fourteen-unit rooming house to a seven family in order that the volume of tenancy be consistent with the available parking his lot provided. I believe what Mr. Re chooses to do with his properties is his and his business alone. Since however he decided to discuss this at a public forum he should not have neglected to point out that this community minded move on his part probably tripled the value of his property.

I look forward to hearing Mr. Re’s view on the Rockaway’s parking dilemma at our next Community Board meeting scheduled for June the 14th at 7:30 pm. (That is if I’m not thrown off the board by then!) at the Knights of Columbus. You should early Mr. Re as there is usually a parking problem in that area as well. As a board member of Community Board #14, I look forward to asking you a few more pointed questions. This time we can defer to the chair, the board, and the community at large to decide what is, and what is not, a stupid question.

D. BRIAN HEFFERNAN

Give Credit Where Due

To the editor:

Robin Levy’s article, “Music In Our Hearts,” in last week’s Wave was certainly descriptive of the experiences students are gaining through the Riverside Symphony’s “Music Memory Program.” This program has been in existence since 1999, but what was not included in the article was the fact that if not for Rockaway Music and Arts Council, the Music Memory Program would never have been introduced here in the Rockaways.

Through the sponsorship of RMAC this innovative program reaches some eight schools in our area. RMAC puts a great deal of effort into sponsoring and organizing these great programs, which has made the learning and appreciation of music fun for our children. In 2003, PS 183Q won the Music Memory Competition at Alice Tully Hall—something all of Rockaway should be proud of; and recently PS114Q presented “Sanderella,” which won the audience’s heart and RMAC’s applause.

Rockaway Music and Arts Council’s sponsorship of programs in our schools and the support of the performing, visual, and literary arts here in the Rockaways has been and will continue to be an active part of our community’s cultural experience. Ms. Levy hit the bull’s eye when she wrote of the children who participate in the program: “They all take home with them the greatest gift of all, a gift they can certainly keep forever, a love and deep appreciation for music.” Rockaway Music and Arts Council is proud to sponsor such a program in our schools.

STEPHEN YAEGER

RMAC EXECUTIVE BOARD

MEMBER

Book Swap At P.S. 106

Dear Editor,

The following letter was sent to the parents of P.S. 106.

On Friday, June 3, we will be having our annual book swap. This is an opportunity to get “new” and gently used books in the hands of our children at no cost to the parents. This event is another way we can encourage our children to read and to develop a love of reading.

Here’s where we need your help: we ask that children bring in books from home that they will “swap” or trade for other books they have not read. Each teacher will keep a tally of the total number of books brought in by each child. The children will receive coupons that will enable them to select the books they want at the Book Swap. Books must be in good condition without scribbling inside or torn pages. Please note: no comics, outdated books, foreign language books, religious books or textbooks will be accepted or credited. Please look in your home for books which your child can bring in for this event. (A maximum of six coupons will be awarded to any one student.)

Classroom teachers will keep the books in the classrooms as they are brought in. They will then be collected and set out on display for Swap Day.

MRS. M. BAUM

Lack Of Vision

Dear Editor;

I am a long time resident of Neponsit and a buyer in the Ocean Grande condominium now under construction. I am constantly awed by the complacency and lack of vision of the Rockaway residents. Last week Mr. Feuer wrote a long rant regarding the negative effects of the Ocean Grande on his street and his neighborhood. Thank you Mr. Feuer for caring so much about my investment and my future home. You appear quite angry about a magnificent, new structure being built between Beach 116 and 117th Streets and the ocean.

Perhaps you’re worried that it might take something away from the glorious architecture of the Lawrence Hotel. I know you much prefer more of that ilk in Rockaway. No new construction here….not in your neighborhood. Let’s keep it more of the same….more bars, superettes, laundromats, unmatched awnings, alcoholics and homeless. Now that’s the Rockaway Feuer much prefers, especially if he can park easily. It’s time for all of us in Rockaway to increase our vision for what this beautiful town could look like— Beach, ocean, quaint shops…more Hamptons like. 

Arverne by the Sea is illustrating what money and foresight can bring to our neighborhood. Let’s look beyond our own petty jealousies and resentments, and look ahead to the beautiful place we can all call home.

JANE KANE

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