2005-10-21 / Columnists

Simon says...

Lew M. SimonLew M. Simon

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23 rd A.D. art B

The last two weeks, which included the Jewish New Year, have been very strange. Who says it doesn’t rain on Jewish holidays? Many of us thought we would need Noah’s Ark to get off Gilligan’s Island. On top of that, I had a cold and bronchitis with a cough so hard that your body hurts.

Many of us were fed up with the flooding that occurred during the past week. I thought I did a miracle by calling DEP and getting them to clear all the catch basins from Beach 113 Street to Beach 116 Street along Beach Channel Dr. For those of us who tried to go to the Post Office as well as any of the stores on the south side, including the entrance to Waldbaum’s, found it really wet. The DEP took swift action by cleaning the catch basins. Unfortunately the moron left all the dirt and grease that was taken out of the sewer in front of the Post Office and other stores. The next day heavy rains pushed everything back into the sewers and they flooded. Back to square one. We will keep on top of DEP until it is done right. We have received many calls about flooded basements including from Ocean Park on Beach 17 and Beach 19 Streets where cars were floating. We received calls from residents of JASA about flooding in their apartments coming from the roof or possibly through the pointing between the bricks. Many of the residents had no lights or running water. We are aware that the maintenance staff has been wonderful to the residents. Although I do not represent the people of Ocean Park or JASA, we took immediate action to assist. Special thanks to The Wave’s associate Editor, Brian Magoolaghan, who took the time on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar to go down to JASA to photograph the damage to Ruth Oringer’s apartment. Ruth is handicapped and uses a walker. This lady is a wonderful, brilliant, loving community activist. My heart went out to her when she called. We immediately returned her call and worked with her.

Another major problem that is occurring for the residents of Breezy, Roxbury and Rockaway Point as well as Neponsit residents and others is the loss of their Post Office. Since World War II or earlier, there has been a Post Office at Fort Tilden. It sells stamps, mail packages and has over 100 post office boxes. The Post Office does not pay rent to Gateway National Park. The boiler is shot, and Gateway is demanding a rental fee and payment for heat, light and other electrical use, which is only fair.

We have reached out to Steve Greenberg, Chairman of the Board of the Cooperative and Mrs. Farrell who is a private contractor who runs the Fort Tilden P.O. She claims it earns over $325,000 per year in postal business.

We have reached out to Chris Connolly, owner of Deirdre Maeve’s, to discuss the possibility of the P.O. being moved to his store. It has also come to our attention that the P.O. has come up with an alternative. They would provide a postal truck 3 days a week, which we find unacceptable. We have also reached out to Congressman Weiner. We are waiting to hear the outcome. We have been appointed as a member of the Public Advisory Committee of the Lower Manhattan-Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project. On Tuesday afternoon we traveled via A train from Grant Avenue to Bowling Green, which was quite an experience. Although it was 12:30 in the afternoon, the trains were crowded and dirty. As many of you remember, we spoke about the plan to use part of the Rockaway Beach line to connect to the Atlantic Branch of the LIRR. They are proposing to run high-speed service from JFK, eastern Queens and Nassau County on the Atlantic line to lower Manhattan. We were greeted and welcomed like family by Chris Bastian, Manager of Transportation Systems Research Planning Division of the MTA. He shook my hand and congratulated me and said he was flooded with E-mail, mail and phone calls about adding the Rockaway Beach line to the plans. We made it clear that good transportation was essential to the continued growth of the Rockaways, where each and every day new construction, including Arverne by the Sea and other development, was filling every nook and cranny with some sort of housing.

People working in Manhattan or hoping to work in Manhattan suffer from the inadequate service and long traveling times. It was great to see that the alternate transportation that we have been fighting for years made the map. It was great to have the presence and full support of our Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, an advocate for us all, and Norman Silverman, whose heart and soul has been put into this project, as well as a great friend to our community, US Congressman Jerold Nadler who was represented by Robert M. Gottheim Esq. his Brooklyn director and transportation policy analyst. Robert grew up in the Rockaways and his parents still live here. He is another fine advocate for us. George Haikalis, the respected engineer and transportation planner who wrote the original Apple Corridor plan to revive the Rockaway line, sat with us.

There are a number of steps before a transportation plan is finally approved. Some involve public hearings and some welcome written public comment. Many public officials have a voice in the three final plans. Our efforts will need your support at these times. At no time will this pit bull let his teeth out of the MTA and LIRR backside.

We will continue with these planning sessions to make the old Rockaway Beach line a reality. They are planning for the next 25 years. We made it clear that we need immediate action to make safe rapid transportation to lower Manhattan available to residents of the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park available now.

The phone that rings in my office and home was down from Monday to Friday. The problem was that the cables were rusted and flooded. We apologize if you were unable to get through. We only found out on Wednesday that they could transfer the calls to my cell phone. I hate to see the bill, but I’m determined to make sure that the phone company pays for it.

We are deeply saddened by the deaths of two fine gentlemen. One was Al Shulman, who we could refer to as Mr. Rockaway. He and his lovely wife, Mildred, spent so many hours advocating for the Rockaways. They worked for better library services. Al acted, sang and entertained us all. Al was a real gentleman and scholar who must be a special angel in God’s kingdom in heaven.

The second gentleman I knew all my life was Orlando Velez, a great father, brother, uncle and husband. He served in the US Army and loved the Rockaways. He was a happy go lucky wisecracking individual and a loving family man who must be a special angel in heaven. He and Al must be making people laugh and smile in heaven. My heart goes out to their wives Mildred Shulman and Marta Velez, and their families.

What is the post office doing? It has come to my attention that a number of people tried to send checks to my office at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive and the letters were returned to sender. This came after my recent article about poor postal delivery.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Sat. November 19. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return 8 a.m. The cost is $33 with $25 returned. Call (718) 945-1216 for reservations.

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