2005-07-29 / Letters


Before A Child Is Killed

Dear Editor,

Can anyone please tell me why Shorefront Parkway from Beach 95 Street west to Beach 92nd Street has a traffic light on EVERY block, whereas from Beach 91 Street east to Beach 74 Street there are NONE?

  It’s my understanding that the DOT will only put up traffic lights where there are fatalities. Well after Tuesday night’s drag race on Shorefront Parkway, there is now a fatality.

Will the DOT finally wake up and put some traffic lights on Shorefront

going downtown?  If not all the way downtown, at least St. Rose of Lima School at Beach 84 Street should have a traffic light; does the DOT need to wait until a child is killed before they do something on that corner?


To Say Thanks

Dear Editor;

We just wanted to write a short note to say “THANK YOU” to all those that came to our aid on Friday, June 24th  (and the days that followed) when a crane fell on the side of the house at 209 Beach 99th Street (see Wave 7/1/05).  The police, fireman, neighbors (Karen) were absolutely wonderful.

But the biggest “thank you” goes to Councilman Addabbo’s office, and in particular Sandy.  We would not have been able to get back into our home without their assistance. Sandy was tenacious in her pursuit of weeding out the “red tape” in order to get us back home.  They have our undying appreciation.  Councilman Addabbo is truly a Councilman of the People.



Bias Crime In

Howard Beach

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to Joseph Ceder, “Looking Differently At Assault”, from the July 8, 2005 paper.

Firstly, I would like to say, if this wasn’t a bias crime, then there was no need for racial slurs coming out of the assaulter’s mouths.

He could have easily just said, “punks” or “stupid blank” or even “a**hole”. But they were personal and used the “n” word. That made the difference in the case.

And the same would go, “if the victims were white and the attackers were black,” and the attackers would say “white trash”, “honky” or “cracker”, that would be considered a bias crime also.


Keep No Parking Rules

Dear Editor;

I attended last night’s meeting of Community Board 14 to address the issue of the “No Parking Anytime” restriction, which was planned and installed on Rockaway Beach Blvd. as a condition of the center mall construction.

I had never been to one of these meetings before, and I had no idea what to expect. At the time I arrived, and for quite a while afterward, there were no others in attendance who were on my side of this issue. Although I was completely unprepared to speak, and even the thought of public speaking terrifies me, I signed my name to the roster because I feel very strongly about this quality of life issue.

I have been a resident of this community for thirty-eight years, both as a homeowner and a tenant. There has always been a problem with parking in Rockaway and there always will be, but we deal with it. Yes, it is often unfair and inconvenient, but obviously for most residents the benefits outweigh the costs. This is clearly illustrated by the number of people who have lived here all of their lives, and the frequency with which their grown children and grandchildren also choose to stay. I grew up in a multiple dwelling on Beach 113 Street, which was owned by my parents. Many long-time residents will have fond memories of my mother, Mary Schultz, and how she ran the “Cavan House”, as if it were one big family. We had only one parking space (and one phone in the hallway) for the whole house, which consisted of twelve 1-2 room units, with shared bathrooms and cooking facilities. I have great memories of growing up there, and especially the big family parties that we often had. There was no extra parking on our block for guests. Most of the houses didn’t even have driveways for their owners. But somehow we managed, even if it meant paying at a meter or shuttling people to parking lots. After leaving there at age 21, I rented for five years in Rockaway Park and had my first real taste of “shuffling cars”.

Then, my parents and I got together and bought a two family house in Belle Harbor. Luckily my tenant (who came with the house) doesn’t drive, and so I had it fairly easy with a five car driveway all to myself, until I remarried and my husband moved in with his two cars. Now we shuffle our three cars around every weekend just like the owners and tenants of the other (legal) 2-3 family houses on my block. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes it’s difficult, if not impossible to have guests, but we all manage. If we didn’t feel strongly that the benefits outweigh the costs, we wouldn’t continue to do it year after year. I never had an agenda to eliminate parking on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

In fact, when I first heard of the plan for the malls a few years back, I was very upset because I thought they would eliminate a traffic lane rather than the parking lane. I had terrible visions of increased congestion and accidents. I always found it difficult enough to cross the boulevard to get to the beach, especially with a bicycle or a wagon full of stuff. I didn’t see the need for the malls and I thought they would just make the problems worse. But now that they are here, I am delighted by how much easier and safer it is to cross the street and how much nicer the whole area looks. If the parking were reinstated, and only one lane open to traffic, it would cause a myriad of unsafe conditions:

- We all know how difficult it is to see past parked cars when entering a roadway, especially with SUVs parked on corners. Very often you have to pull out into the traffic lane to see. If there were two lanes each way or no median, the oncoming traffic could shift over a little to avoid the entering car, but with only one lane and a concrete divider, where can they go?

- All long-time Rockaway-ites know that the people who come here for the beaches (and even many of the residents) don’t always obey traffic laws or take safety precautions. What would happen if someone went through a stop sign to enter the Boulevard because they couldn’t see the oncoming car, and the oncoming car didn’t see them until it was too late? This may even result in many multi-car crashes because of the continuous line of closely spaced traffic, which would be highly likely on a summer weekend.

- This fairly continuous stream of traffic would make it even more difficult and dangerous to cross the street, especially for children who are not always patient and careful, and may be riding bicycles or skateboards, or come out suddenly from between parked cars.

This would create a definite problem for emergency vehicles. With only one driving lane and no room to safely go around traffic and no place for the traffic to pull over, this could mean the difference between life and death for many residents, such as my 80 year old parents, who have often required ambulance service over the years.

Finally, the argument was raised that the issue only addressed a three-block span from Beach 125 Street to Beach 128 Street. Well, if this group were to win on the issue for these three blocks, how could the same benefit be denied to the next group of people for their three blocks, and so on until it eventually affects the entire length of the boulevard.

I am sure there are even more concerns relating to this issue which I neglected to address in this letter. But I think these are certainly enough good reasons to maintain the original plan of two traffic lanes and no parking. I want to sincerely thank all the people who worked hard on this issue and all those who showed up last night, and at all prior community meetings in order to voice their concerns for the greater good of the whole community.


A Thug Is A Thug

Dear Editor,

In your opinion column of July 8, 2005, a reference was made to a “stereotypical Italian thug.” A thug is a thug, period.

In this day and age, would you be comfortable describing a Jewish thug, a black thug, Puerto Rican thug, etc?


Owners at the Crossroads

To the Editor:

Since I was an owner representative for 5 years, I am often asked to explain the decisions of the Rent Guidelines Board. My answer is always the same; the rent increases approved by the RGB have nothing to do with logic or justice, rough or otherwise. It is all politics. And Mayor Bloomberg has elevated the political manipulation of the RGB to an entirely new level, and his predecessors must be green with envy. It is brilliant politics, but very bad policy.

How did he do it? This strategy has several components. He began three years ago with a midnight massacre at the Rent Guidelines Board. A year after his election he replaced 6 of 9 members of the board giving the Mayor much more than a workable majority. The Mayor was also careful to select four uniformed and docile public members, a strong and experienced chairman and he also replaced the most aggressive and combative owner representative (me).

The new board also has a very distinctive Manhattan flavor, well suited to the tastes and preferences of a billionaire Mayor with like-minded advisors. I do not think any of them could even find Morrisania, Crown Heights or Ozone Park, with or without the requisite map, compass and Boy Scout. The Mayor has created a board that considers the “outer boroughs” fly-over country and as significant to the process as Kansas. Apparently having a billionaire Mayor who owes nobody anything has a negative consequence too. He has very limited understanding of anything outside the sanctified precincts of Manhattan.

The Mayor’s strategy also included making the preliminary voted by the board a non-event. By having the board approve a range of possible increases, the board is fulfilling in only the most technical sense its statutory obligation to inform the public of proposed rent increases. The payoff is to make the preliminary vote no longer newsworthy. The media doesn’t have a story, people don’t know what is truly under consideration, there is no debate and consequently no one shows up at the public hearings. Not even the politicians in an election year! This year the public hearing was so sedate that you could have slept through it. To understand how far we have come you must remember that these public hearings were the highlight of political theatre in New York City for many years.

In addition, as chairman, Marvin Markus also has a very different style of conducting the votes. In past years chairmen were reluctant to make a motion, they preferred to let the board members hash it out. Markus does not feel so constrained. Typically he allows the tenants to make one proposal and then he permits the owners to make one (accompanied by such organized heckling that I doubt ANYONE can actually hear what is being said). Then, Markus makes a proposal that is obviously rehearsed and within moments he has his 5 votes and he moves on to the next order of business. The Public Meetings Law apparently presents no problem to this chairman. Neither do Robert’s Rules of Order.

The final element of the strategy is to keep the rent increases well below the cost of doing business to minimize the outcry among tenants, the largest voting block in the city. Markus is a strong and experienced chairman and he is able to dominate the board to the point where he can get the increases he wants. In fairness, he has certain core beliefs (e.g.: he has aggressively defended the special guidelines several times) and he has established innovation (e.g.: different increases depending on whether the landlord provides heat), both of which are positive.

However, in the past three years, the RGB has approved cumulative one-year increases of 10.75% in the prior three (when I was a member) the comparable increases were 10%. However, the PIOC over the most recent three years has increased more than twice as fast as the PIOC in the prior three. In simple terms, the price increases have more than doubled, but we are getting the same rent increases as before. Other proof of grossly inadequate increases comes from Markus’ innovative concept that if the landlord provides heat he should get a higher increase. In the two years he has adopted such a policy, owners who provide heat have gotten an extra 1% increase. I forgot, just how expensive is a gallon of oil today?

In the final analysis Markus has engineered increases that are woefully inadequate to compensate owners, but these increases do serve the political interests of his patron Mayor Bloomberg. Unfortunately, the political viability of the Mayor is being paid by the property owners who must count nickels to pay their oil bill, their insurance bill and oh, let us not forget the Mayor’s real estate tax increase and his annual water and sewer increase. It should be no surprise, except to some of the public members of the board that the number of distressed buildings has almost doubled since 1999.

Which brings me to my final point. It has been political orthodoxy among owners for many years that we must present a united front to the rest of the city. Perhaps it is time to re-examine that political arrangement. Owners are not like tenants. Fundamentally, property owners are all competitors just like all the delis in your neighborhood are competitors. It is true only in a conceptual sense that the Manhattan owner has the same issues as the owner in East New York. The monthly operating profit in Manhattan of $594 is almost as high as the $675 average rent in the rest of the city. To the Manhattan owner it is about getting a fair price for the most valuable real estate in the world, to the owner in East New York it is about survival. Furthermore, the economies of scale available to the large owner make his business fundamentally different from the small owner.

If such political partnership does not serve the interests of all owners all over the city then why should they participate? Perhaps it is time for some classes of owners to find new allies where the partnership is more mutually beneficial. Let’s face it, there is very little to lose since they could not do worse than they have in the last four years.


CB 14 Is A Joke

Dear Editor:

I would like to say that the last meeting of Community Board 14 on July 12 was a joke; however, the way the people of Rockaway Beach are being misled is far from funny. The Board members just don’t seem to be able to come to grips with the reality of the federal law that applies in a Coastal Zone Boundary. In 1982 after the State of New York joined the federal Coastal Zone Management Program spelled out in the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972, boundary lines were drawn up by NYS’s Coastal Management Program (CMP) and the federal agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Because Rockaway Beach is so narrow, NOAA recommended that the entire peninsula of Rockaway Beach from the tip of Breezy Point to the borders of Nassau County from Ocean to Bay, be declared a Coastal Zone Boundary. At the same time New York City’s Waterfront Revitalization Program (WRP) was approved by NOAA, as was the State’s CMP. There was a contract drawn up between WRP, CMP and NOAA to work as partners to enforce the rules set forth in the CZMA in Coastal Zone Boundaries. The contract gives NOAA oversight and enforcement powers.

When it comes to zoning, the local government must conform to the CZMA.

Board 14 is making zoning recommendations and using laws that no longer apply in Rockaway Beach. The Public Trust Doctrine of New Jersey is part of the CZMA nation wide. A few of the key components of the CZMA and the Public Trust Doctrine are: existing Public Access and Visual Corridors to the water must be maintained and enhanced if possible and never diminished, and parking must be increased if possible. What does all this mean to Rockaway Beach? Money. So far NOAA has given the State of New York three billion dollars to carry out the rules and regulations set forth in the CZMA. How much of that money has been allocated for Rockaway Beach? Not one single Farthing. Zero, Zilch, Zippo. Why? Because we are saddled with a rubber stamp, Community Board whose members are out of touch with the law, and elected officials who could care less. Unfortunately the State CMP has kept it that way in order for them (the CMP) to use the CZMA any way they choose to use it.

When a homeowner in Lloyd’s Harbor wanted to extend his dock, Steve Resler, representing the CMP in court, used the CZMA against the homeowner and won.

Yet, in Rockaway Beach Steve Resler didn’t object to plans in the Arverne Urban Renewal Area eliminating 46 existing Public streets to the water. Nor did he object to the building of the Duane Reade drug store on Beach 116 Street on Jamaica Bay that is built over a mapped walkway to a pier blocking Public Access and Visual corridors to the water.  Jamaica Bay is a Special Natural Waterfront Area, and a Marine Protected Area, signed into law by President George Bush in 2001. The CZMA states that any development in a Coastal Zone Boundary that calls for a reduction in existing Public Access or Visual Corridors to the water SHALL NOT BE UNDERTAKEN. Illumining the waterfront with electric lighting is an egregious violation of the CZMA. Part of the three billion dollars is supposed to go to restoring the pier on Beach 116 Street. Restoring and upgrading the wetlands along Jamaica Bay, Mott Creek, and other areas. Educating the public, the politicians, and the Community Boards is a priority.

When, if ever, has a representative from CMP appeared at a Community Board meeting in Rockaway Beach to teach the Board the federal law? Never, to my knowledge. You would think that at least one person on Community Board 14 would be interested in learning about the federal law that applies in Rockaway Beach. After all, they were supplied with the law for years on end, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars Rockaway was denied because there was no one there to represent Rockaway. Board 14 is depriving Rockaway Beach of Rockaway’s share of the federal funding. That is not fair, and ignorance of the law is a poor excuse, or no excuse at all.



Long, Long Time

Dear Editor,

I to am a life-long resident of the Rockaway’s, and I am also a RN at Peninsula Hospital. I have worked in various departments for over 20 years through out my career. I also know many of the nurses who also have been there for many years.

I think Mr. Weiner was mistaken on one very important fact, ‘ WE THE NURSES AT PENINSULA HOSPITAL HAVE BEEN TAKEN CARE OF THE HOSPITAL FOR A VERY LONG, LONG TIME”. I know I give 100% if not 110% to the Hospital.

It saddens me to see my fellow nurses being totally overwhelmed and throwing their hands up in frustration, because the working conditions are so bad, or being brought to tears at the end of their shift, when being told by management, “you’re being mandated to work”, there is no one to replace you! We nurses have our own families at home to take care of. I can tell you its not a nice feeling, not being able to leave when your time is up.

Mr. Weiner, you stated, Medicare Medicaid cuts are the trouble for the Hospitals today and one solution, as you said, was for the nurses to take a cut in pay. What about the CEO and all the Administrative Directors and Managers, who by the way? I’m sure they have a nice pay check at the end of the week, but you say, lets take it from nurses because a letter written by JA-RN offended you.

One correction needs to be addressed, there has never been any offering of $10,000 increase to the nurses.

Mr. Weiner I ask you? Walk in my shoes for 8 hours—than tell me, WHAT I DON’T DO FOR MY HOSPITAL.




More About Selfish Neighbors

Dear Editor;

This is in regards to the parking letter by Doris Byrnes about selfish neighbors with five car driveways that will not let their neighbor’s park in front of their house. I am one of those selfish neighbors and I would like to explain how I got that way. I have one long narrow driveway between the side of my house and a metal fence. Barely a parking space away I have another driveway in front of my garage. I have told my neighbors many times if you are going to park in front of my house and your car does not fit please do not block the front driveway because there is no way for me to maneuver my car out.

Well, four broken side mirrors later costing me close to four hundred dollars because of my front driveway being blocked and not wanting to hit my inconsiderate neighbor’s cars or not being able to get my car in or out at all. I try to keep the little space in front of my house occupied. Not to mention a winter’s day, taking an hour to shovel my car out the side driveway then having to wait another hour on the street asking people if they knew whose car was blocking my driveway because I couldn’t get out. Just less than a month ago there was a Subaru blocking my front driveway for three days and my wife could not use her car to get to work.

When I saw the guy finally pulling out I was going to put my car there and he made a commotion because his wife was going to put her car there. I explained to him that his car does not fit, my wife could not get to work and the mirror situation. He then tells me he was just going to park his other car and come back for this one. Well, when he got down the block he gave me the finger. I had warned him if you do leave it you will get a ticket, which he did. I could have had him towed but didn’t. Did he learn? No, he did the same thing the next day and got another ticket and I still did not have him towed. That was the first time in ten years living there that I had someone ticketed. I have a neighbor that will park two feet away from the curb and block my driveway they don’t even try and fit in the space provided. What other options do I have? As for the woman who wrote the letter I hope I gave you some insight on why your neighbors maybe so protective of their parking spaces. All I can say is when you were buying your house you should have looked into what your needs were. Most people look at transportation, school districts and if your planning on having a lot of company…parking.


An Open Letter To Parents

Dear Editor,

First of all, let me tell you when I was 13 years old I was no better than the teens of today, with one exception. I always respected my elders. We used to huddle and say bad words, but when we saw a grown up we would hush up.

I know times and styles have changed, but look at what’s happening to our young girls. They are being raped and taunted by grown men. When is all of this going to stop?

I work in a public school and I see how grown up these little girls are. They wear jeans so tight they can’t even bend, and low cut blouses. And they are shaped like grown women. They leave nothing to the imagination.

Some of them curse like truck drivers. It’s a shame to have to listen to what comes out of their mouths.

Growing up, my mother used to take us shopping for our clothes. Of course we wanted to look like other kids so when we got to school, we used to roll our skirts up to our knees, not to our necks. And when we bent over no one could see what we had on under our skirts.

I know a lot of parents have to work and they can’t be home to monitor what their children are wearing, but somebody had to buy those clothes.

I pray that the youth of today don’t have to go through the hell that I went through to get where I am today. It was only by God’s grace that I made it out, and I thank God for it everyday.


Don’t Clean Lots

That Are Already Clean

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

Dear Mr. Gaska,

I seek your help in the following,

On July 14 and 15 several bulldozers from the sanitation department cleared the lots 1, 80, 78, 76 of Block 15954 situated between Beach 37 and Beach 38 Street, North of Beach Channel Drive. There was very little garbage on these lots, mostly plastic bags and candy bags that inconsiderate passersby throw down. In addition there were the remains of what the Sanitation Department left last year during a similar procedure. Again as last year, what they left behind is an area strewn with blocks of concrete, a pile of metal building material. In other words a lot that looks like a bomb hit it. There are ruts created by the bulldozer tires, gashes created by the frontloading arms that were used to remove mostly plant-life and topsoil.

Many beautiful native plants – Queen Anne’s lace, Chicory, Sweet white clover, Sweet yellow clover, Red clover, Rabbit’s foot clover, Mullein and wild plantain - were destroyed in the process. All these beautiful native plants are described in Barrier Island botany by Richard Statler. I hope they will eventually return, but I am afraid that instead we will get another field taken over by Japanese Knotweed – an invasive species that the Sanitation Department’s lot cleaning protocols have actively promoted in the last few years - that can be seen all over the Rockaways this year.

My first request to you is to ask the Sanitation Department to complete the job by removing the concrete and other debris they left behind and to level the field.

I cannot believe that a department with a terrific compost program on the one hand is not willing to revisit this systemic problem on the other, and so my second request is to organize a meeting with the powers that be at the Sanitation Department to review protocols used to distinguish between “LOT Cleaning” and “weed” control and the manner in which each job gets done. As the situation is now, the Sanitation Department does not fix the problem, they are the problem. (photo graphic documentation on request).

I thank you for your time and attention.


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