Several Ridiculous Statements
I would like to address Richard Venezio’s accusations regarding Belle Harbor residents’ resistance to a memorial on the crash site in his letter to Mayor Bloomberg published in last week’s Wave.
Venezio makes several ridiculous statements accusing “lilywhite” residents of Belle Harbor of “pure, unadulterated racism against the Latino & Dominican communities”. What Venezio conveniently forgets is that Belle Harbor residents lost family, friends, neighbors and loved ones in that horrific crash as well. The crash site is not an appropriate place for the memorial several reasons, none of which have to do with racism or community ignorance.
In addition to losing loved ones, families lost their homes and everything they own to the crash. All who were witnesses to the crash, from young children to senior citizens who still live near the site, were traumatized by those events. While no person who died that day should be forgotten, it is not appropriate to place the memorial on a site where it will be a constant reminder of that horrible day for people who still live there. The decision on what to do with the land rests, as it should, with the people who own the land. These people also lost family members and their input is no less important than anybody else’s. Why is that fact either ignored or deemed irrelevant whenever this debate arises?
I happen to agree that Beach 116 Street is not the most practical place in Rockaway to put the memorial in terms of crowding and congestion. However, Mr. Venezio neglects to mention in his letter to Mayor Bloomberg that he is a resident of Beach 116 Street, just steps away from the memorial site. It’s very easy to accuse others of the N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Back Yard) attitude when you are the one who is being inconvenienced. Perhaps Venezio is the one who doesn’t want “those people” on his “pristine streets”. The fact that he did not mention his close proximity to the memorial in his letter takes all credibility from his argument.
MATTHEW E. MCLEAN
Donates To Katrina Victims
On September 10, we had a garage sale and we donated all proceeds to Hurricane Katrina.
Many neighbors on our block donated items to be sold. Our son setup a cookie and drink stand, he made over $90. We made close to $400. The people of Rockaway were so generous. A woman named Michelle donated $100, knowing that whatever we raised, would be matched by my employer.
We donated $500 to Mercy Corp, which was matched by Con Edison to make a total donation of $1000. We also collected and donated six large bags of clothing. Thank you to all, especially the Rudden’s, the DiCiervo’s, the Watton boys and Michelle.
THE BARNES FAMILY
Needs Should Be Met For Katrina Evacuees
The information in the local free press in Queens brought to my attention that Senator Malcolm Smith is in charge of the Louisiana evacuees at the Radisson Hotel. There are only 250 people placed. The food is horrid, with meat patties, mushy rice and salad dinner.
Thank God some churches in Brooklyn and Jamaica are taking them to church services and dinners. The clothes for colder weather are needed. Some people are still wearing flip-flops and soggy wet shoes on their feet. Big sizes for men and women, coats, jackets, etc. are needed. Some people have colds and other problems that need medical attention. School supplies are needed, and better attention for needs for all ages.
Thanks to all of you who are conscious of others’ needs at this time. God bless.
GWENDOLYN D. PRUDEN
Move The Beach
The following letter was recently sent to The Wave by Bernard Blum, the president of the Friends of Rockaway, a local environmental group. Blum has also attached an October, 1990 letter that he received from the Parks Department the last time he made such a request.
Enclosed with this letter is a 1990 Parks Department reply to my request to consider destroying the boardwalk and constructing a concrete promenade that would be placed 200 to 400 feet inland of the present Edgemere boardwalk.
This “visionary approach” would ensure new Coastal Erosion Hazard Lines (CEHLs), which would probably prohibit construction within those zones.
Experts indicate that we are in a new hurricane cycle since the 1960s (e.g. Hurricane Donna, 1960, that flooded Rockaway).
With a 20-foot high dune construction in front of the new concrete promenade there would be better storm surge protection.
Note the Edgemere beach tends to be narrow anyway because the boardwalk was built too close to the ocean. So a plus would be a more permanent beach.
BERNARD J. BLUM
The following is a letter received by Bernard Blum in October of 1990 from Stephen Whitehouse, Director of Planning for Parks and Recreation of New York:
Dear Mr. Blum,
In response to your question of why the Coastal Erosion Hazard line and the Rockaway Beach boardwalk were not relocated further inland:
1. Parks & Recreation did not set the location of the Coastal Erosion Hazard Line. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation sets this line.
2. Sections of the Rockaway boardwalk were rebuilt and are not currently being rebuilt in their original locations. We did not, nor do we have plans to move the boardwalk inland. DPR does not own land north of the Boardwalk that would facilitate moving it to such a position. In some places, DPR does own a 50-foot strip of parkland north of the boardwalk, but we must retain this strip for maintenance purposes. Furthermore, moving the boardwalk would be a large additional expense. The current plans for rebuilding the boardwalk are primarily for redecking the existing structure, with provisions, of course, for installing firestops and replacing any substandard structural supports where necessary.
I hope this answers your questions about Rockaway Beach.
DIRECTOR OF PLANNING
NYC PARKS DEPARTMENT
Clean It Up
I am appalled at the condition of the Hockey Rink on Beach 108 Street.
Some how it has become a place for people to walk their dogs AND NOT CLEAN UP.
I have recently gone there with my child and there are dog droppings everywhere. How do people let their dogs urinate and defecate in a place for children?
I hope something can be done and the rink cleaned up and used by people with respect for their community.
Parents Need To Take Responsibility
This letter is in response to the letter last week from Cynthia Smalls-Williams, who believes there is a topic that the schools do not teach nowadays and that children learn in the street.
The topics she mentions are: What is a husband, what is a wife, what about sex and love and what is the importance of a family? Mrs. Smalls-Williams answers her own questions when she asked, “What is the importance of a family.” Exactly, these are subjects that should be taught by your family, your mother and father, and not by the teachers in school.
Many parents feel it is the responsibility of the school system to cover every situation, but I would like to ask a question; where is parental responsibility? It seems more and more today that parents feel someone else should be doing their work and when things go wrong, it’s someone else’s fault, not theirs.
Teachers teach English, Math, History, Current Events, and maybe art and music, and they may guide children into their future life’s work. It is not their responsibility to bring up the children and speak to them about things that should be discussed at home.
The teachers have a hard enough job as it is. Parents have to take some responsibility or else, don’t have children.
The Good Old Days
The continued boondoggle of Beach 116 Street brings back a lot of memories. It’s like someone, or some evil spirit, has its claws around it in a stranglehold no one can pry loose. It reminds me of the Joel Gerstel days and the stranglehold he had on Rockaway with his band of connivers.
That’s when Rockaway really got the shaft, not that Rockaway hadn’t been shafted before that, or since. That was around 1983 when the Queens Borough President Donald Manes was seen more on Beach 116 Street in Westrich’s restaurant (owned by Gerstel) than he was seen at Queens Borough Hall. In those days, the Wave asked, “How many hats can one man wear?”
Joel was head of the Community Board, head of the Chamber of Commerce, head of the Rockaway Revitalization Corporation, head of the Merchants Association, just to name a few. Not bad for a man who lived in Nassau County. But the heavy hand of the law caught up with Joel for failing to pay sales taxes, and shortly after he was caught, he disappeared and was never seen again, at least not by me.
Before Joel left, he put his finishing touches on the new design for the center street parking and watched and supervised (in a paid position) the completion of the job. The only job ever, in the history of New York, that was paid double. The contractor bargained with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to allow the double rate because he promised he would do the job without disturbing the businesses. The contractor closed down the entire block till the job was complete. When Joel wasn’t wearing a white apron and frying hamburgers and hot dogs with a phone on each ear, he was out on the street with a hard hat looking into the hole at workers hooking up the sewers.
The company that supplied electricity to Rockaway (Long Island Lighting Company, LILCO) had just spent one and a half million dollars to put the electricity underground, down the middle of the street. The DOT said that if you insist on parking in the center there is a crown in the center that must be cut down. LILCO said if you do that our underground wiring will be destroyed. With the help of Queens Borough President Donald (I never did anything wrong) Manes, Assemblywoman Gerdi (I always told my staff everything) Lipschutz, DOT Commissioner Anthony (I never told a lie) Ameruso, and Mayor Ed (How am I doin’?) Koch, Joel prevailed. LILCO took the underground lighting out and placed it on “temporary” wooden poles on both sides of the street. That was 23 years ago.
I can still see Gerdi, Joel, Anthony, and Donald, surrounded by local politicians and wanna-bees, patting each other on the backs for the great accomplishment of completing the 116 Street project. Shortly after that, Joel disappeared. Gerdi Lipschutz was chased out of the Assembly for having someone on the payroll that she never knew. Gerdi was also collecting one hundred thousand dollars a year for a Casino Gambling Committee—ten years after the State of New York had rejected the push for Casino Gambling and never informed her staff. Anthony Ameruso was convicted of perjury during a city investigation into the awarding of contracts and spent sixteen weeks on Rikers Island. Donald Manes allegedly murdered himself in his own house. He stabbed himself in the chest, pulled the knife out, and threw it twenty-five feet into the kitchen. The knife landed on the handle on the kitchen floor, leaning against the cabinet with the blade pointing upwards. I didn’t make this up. No one could make this up. That is what the report said.
The job that is now underway is even a bigger boondoggle. The only reason the center divider is kept is to eliminate the removal of all the inhabitants who reside there, such as the trees, the parking ticket boxes, the lighting poles, things like that. There is no way there will be parking by the curb and alongside the divider. All you have to do is pull out a ruler and measure. There will seldom be space by the curb for delivery trucks to park, and when they double park, no one will be able to move until the truck is unloaded. Down the line the parking by the curb will have to be eliminated, along with many promised parking spaces. The new turnaround on the south side is much smaller than the old turnaround and trucks and busses will have to straddle the sidewalk to get where they will be going. The new (now old) temporary wooden poles will remain in place for who knows how long? Another “quick fix” gone awry on Beach 116 Street. Joel, Gerdi, Anthony, and Donald would be proud.
Lives Are In Danger
We would like to call your attention to the fact that lives can be in great danger due to the lack of care by this present city administration. The meeting, which we had a few weeks ago, which was attended by the Red Cross, the city OEM, the police and fire departments, did not hit out at the major problems that could take place here in the Rockaways.
What we failed to take in to account is the major fact that there are only one or two route evacuation signs in the Rockaways, and there are not enough warnings in all the Rockaways. The city has known about this problem for many years.
If the Rockaways get a very bad hurricane, or a tsunami to hit our water areas in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, it can cause not thousands but millions of lives to be lost. There is no way that the city is set for this action.
In speaking with the chief of OEM, he agrees that there is no set service for the Rockaways. Each volunteer fire department here has its own way of doing things here. This is very wrong, because the Rockaway area should have a central command for all volunteer emergency services and organizations in our area to respond to any incident that could come up.
It would take OEM and other city emergency services (with the exception of fire and police) 30 minutes to get here from Manhattan, and in this time people could die. We need a district OEM chief for the Rockaways, who has the authority to take charge of the area. This could also be done in Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The city has a big deal about terrorists, and all the emergency services are set up for this, but not for bad weather conditions. They are 20 years behind the times. This problem has to be addressed, and someone needs to be put in charge that knows what they are doing. Put people with weather disaster training to run Rockaway, so people will not die.
We need someone to take charge, and not use politics with people’s lives. Our organization, the Association of Auxiliary and Volunteer Firefighters (International-GNY) has over 16 years in this field, and we would like to be of help, if only the city would do something to protect our area.
We need protection by way of proper route signs, by training of certain civilians on traffic control and proper shelters off and on the Rockaways. Meetings with nursing homes, hospitals, senior citizen housing, and other shops and businesses need to take place.
The hotels near Kennedy Airport should be made available as shelters, and bridges from Rockaway to the mainland should have all routes open northbound. We should work with Nassau county emergency operations for the routes in Nassau going north.
Since we live and work between two water areas, we live in present danger at all times. We have to take steps to prevent any loss of life in the event that anything hits us. We have to work together and not just have each emergency organization do its things its community. We have to work together as one body for all the Rockaways.
CHIEF J.R. GOLDSTEIN