2005-10-21 / Letters


Quoted Strangely

Dear Editor,

In last week’s Wave I was quoted as “strangely” saying I might install the Dome in Tribute Park the day after the Park unveiling ceremony.  I would like your readers to know that I don’t think I said that and don’t recall saying anything like that at all.  I did say that the Dome might not be finished by Nov 6th and thus would be installed in the weeks following the park opening.  The quote makes me sound like I have an antagonistic attitude which I do not.  The whole journey of bringing the artwork in Tribute Park to fruition has been as much agony as ecstasy for me, yet we are closing in on having the whole Park and the artworks complete soon.  Even though other elements in the Park are still being completed now, the Chamber has been very good about setting the Park Opening date late in the fall to give me as much time as possible to get the dome up for the unveiling. If I can’t get it up by then, I think the Chamber is still right about opening the Park for the community, even if the dome still has to go up afterwards.  The bad car accident I was in at the end of July (other driver’s fault), the resulting physical toll on my otherwise excellent body and the physical therapy and doctor office visits up to four times each week have slowed me down a lot.

We are working feverishly at the shop to complete the dome as soon as possible and I hope it will be done on November 6th.  If not then, it will be up shortly after.  I will keep you posted and I’ll let you know in two weeks if we’ll be ready on November 6

Thanks very much.



Concern Over Housing

In The Rockaways

Dear Editor,

Rockaway is turning into a ghetto. My imagination is not playing tricks on me. Section 8 is moving in all over (legally and without certificate of occupancy).

The new housing market is not what you think. Ride around and look what is moving in! Who do you think is robbing the cars and houses? See what happened in Belle Harbor!

What is shopping with food stamps and ten children in tow in Waldbaum’s on Beach 114 Street?

My house in Arverne has dropped $100,000 in value because of Section 8 families across the street that do drugs, smoke pot, sit on their stoop all day and play music with profanity very loud!


It’s A Dirty Job…

The following letter is in response to the “Light A Match!” article from the September 16 article of The Wave.

Dear Editor,

Of all the city services provided to you, how would you value the angels that work for the sanitation department. They are not the finest, they are not the bravest, but known as the quietest. We provide these services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and you never see us. We remove from your house or apartment the most vile and malodorous waste by-products that any human produces. We do not cause the malodorous scent, but just accept the odors that are sent to our plant.

On an average day, we receive 30 million gallons of waste products from all over the local areas. This wastewater goes through a complicated treatment process at the sewage plant for many hours until the treatment is completed. It is then chlorinated and returned to the bay as fresh as clean water. If you would see a glass of this water that is so clear and clean you would think it drinkable, and in fact cleaner than any pool you have been in.

A few people in the community constantly complain about the sewage plant and the malodorous scent. We do not add the ‘mal’ to the odors.

This plant has been here for over half a century, a lot longer than most of the complainers have lived here.


Correction Is In Order

Dear Editor:

In his monthly column, “Social Security and You,” (9/23/05) James Glasser, manager of the Far Rockaway Social Security Center, says that an individual with a total  “Adjusted Gross Income of more than $25,000 would have to pay tax on some of the Social Security benefit,” thus implying that with an Adjusted Gross Income of less than $25,000 there wouldn’t be any tax on the Social Security benefit.  With all respect to Glasser, I believe that a correction is in order.

The Internal Revenue Service states that a portion of the Social Security benefit is subject to an income tax if the “TOTAL INCOME” (not the AGI) is more than $25,000 for single, $32,000 for married filing jointly and 0.0 for married filing separately. With a Total Income (“ the Basis”) of more than $25,000, an individual’s portion of the Social Security benefit is subject to an income tax even though the Adjusted Gross Income (Total Income less adjustments, such as Ira, tuition, student loan deduction, alimony, etc.) is LESS THAN $25,000 and an income tax may be due. I say it may be due for the reason that the Adjusted Gross Income is further reduced by the deductions and personal exemption to the final TAXABLE INCOME, last item that will determine the tax due or a tax refund.



It Takes A Village

To Raise A Family

Dear Editor,

This is in response to Sharon Gabriel’s comment on my letter.

Have you ever heard of the title of this letter before?

These are God’s children, all of our children, and that’s the point. I’m not saying it’s just the teacher’s responsibility or just the parent’s responsibility. It’s all of our responsibilities.

If I see a child in the streets that is in trouble, or in need of something, or needs some help, I’m not going to say, “That’s not my child, it’s the parent’s responsibility.” How selfish would that be?

And what about the child that has no parents? Not all kids are so lucky.

What about the children who are left to raise themselves, because their parents are running around on drugs? And believe me, there are a lot of those. How about our children who are lost in the system, being moved from one foster home to another. Not stabilized, trying to adapt to each new set of rules in each home they are placed in. Some foster parents are in it for the money, and don’t really pay attention or give the foster child guidance.

To me, this program can help those much-needed children.


Signs Should Warn

Of Ponding

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to your recent editorial about the dangers of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel.

Not all accidents in the “strip” (as we call Cross Bay Blvd from 1 Road to the Addabbo Bridge) are the result of a fault of the driver, such as intoxication and/or excessive speed.  The roadway is subject to severe ponding at several locations after any significant rain.  Those of us who live in the area look out for these giant puddles that may extend over one, two, or even three lanes and drive accordingly. Unfortunately, motorists new to the area oftentimes fail to see the danger, let alone appreciate the power of hydroplaning that can propel an auto into a tree or oncoming cars on the other side of the highway.

Many of these accidents do not involve fatalities but rather serious injury.  I once testified at a trial involving an emergency service worker who sued the city for damages resulting from an accident hitting ponding just north of Broad Channel.  He won, if you call being disabled for life winning. I don’t want to see other people hurt or my tax dollars wasted due to the city’s negligence in alleviating ponding.  At least, it could warn motorists!

In 2004, I wrote to Community Board 14 requesting signs that say “Caution:  Road Subject to Ponding After Heavy Rain.” The sign could have a graphic illustrating water covering one or more lanes.  My request was forwarded to NYCDOT who replied that the engineers had completed a field investigation and determined that signage to warn motorists of a flooding condition is unnecessary.  I say they are wrong.

Of course, the city could improve the drainage along the roadway, but until that happens, at least put up some signs!


A Truce, Please?

Dear Editor,

Rumors have been known to hurt. Facts can set these issues straight.

Mr. Baxter, I can fully appreciate your defending a hotel and theater, which you have obviously worked very hard to establish. Since you have been on Beach 116 Street for over 20 years, you must be aware of the serious problems that do, in reality, exist. These problems are not caused by blue-collar workers. We all know that.

Yes, there were rumors that people in distress were residents of your hotel. If I were you, I’d be angry. However, there is a way to defend yourself without attacking Starbuck’s, a wine and cheese lounge, along with the improvement of your block.

I do not know Jane Kane, but I’m certain that her concerns were not children, budding thespians, or blue-collar citizens. I believe that they were the same concerns that most local residents do have. These are not issues with the working class.

Are you aware that last year, the police had to deal with a man who was flashing his privates to the Stella Maris High School girls, in the morning on their way to school via Beach 116 Street? Do you see the numerous people in obvious distress, panhandling, cursing, sleeping in the street, urinating in the street? It is not obvious that there are some very sick people constantly on Beach 116 Street, people who, due to alcoholism, drug abuse or un-medicated mental illness, cannot take care of themselves? These are not blue-collar workers don’t insult our working class because you are angry.

Be angry-you have every right. But direct that anger in a positive way. Set the record straight, as I believe you have. Get angry at the gossip-mongers who pointed the finger at you in the first place.

Jane Kane voiced what we have all heard. In a way, she did you a favor. She did not speak behind your back-it was “out there.” It gave you a chance to voice your outrage. However, this “blue-collar” business went a bit too far. Let’s get “in the faces” of political forces to deal with an ongoing problem. Are there landlords on the block who are feeding off these unfortunates? Probably they are absentee landlords, but if they exist, why not join us to force them out? Then, proceed to improve the tone of the street.

I do not blame you for not wanting to give up your business and there are other properties where there could be a Starbuck’s. Come on, $4-it does not go far. Wine and cheese-why not? Diverse establishments for a broad spectrum of tastes.

Let cooler heads prevail. People in need of supervision should not be in the mix of “blue collar.” No one wants to look at flashers, bloody fights, or watch public urinating. It is scary to be cursed at by someone who wants your money. It is not pleasant to see genitalia every time the “urge” hits a flasher.

I am sure that residents coming into the Ocean Grande will have no problem with your theater. Some may even want to participate. No one minds children’s shows- I wish mine were young enough to enjoy it-you’d have another customer. The idea of cable shows, the New York Times being at The Baxter-Historic Landmarks-sounds good to me!

Yet, so does Starbuck’s down the block…some nice shops-yes, some wine and cheese. I support The Beach Club for catered events, The Surfshop, florists. I mourn the loss of the Harbor Bakery.

None of us want to hurt Beach 116 Street, but take your head out of the sand. It is wounded, not by blue-collar America, but by unattended human beings in severe distress that are being exploited because of society’s neglect-maybe by some local establishments. Perhaps it bears enough fruit that all of us need to get to the root of the problem. Turn the heat up on political forces to deal with these people in a humane way.

But really, no resident, business, pedestrian, or child should be subjected to behavior that is just damn scary!

Isn’t it time to work as a community to get Beach 116 Street up to an acceptable standard of living? Isn’t it pretty cruel to pass it off as contempt for the good citizens of our community, who are blue-collar, when in reality it is fear of people who are not in control of their faculties? Were these people in their sane and sober minds, they would be mortified! Have some feeling for these illnesses, yet do not expect people to face it daily-it is very scary-but it is not, and never was, blue-collar.

Mr. Baxter, I never spread the rumor, but as a resident for over 30 years, I apologize for your being a victim, a part of our community’s misinformed gossip.

Jane Kane I believe was also a victim of believing what she was told. Like someone once said to me, “Where do you think this is coming from?” Meaning that Baxter’s residents had big problems.

Now I know where is it not happening. I still want to know where it is, and I do want to fix the problem.

May Baxter’s Hotel/Theater continue to be a viable presence on Beach 116 Street, along with the Ocean Grande condo.

One day I hope to pick up my Dunkin Donuts on Saturday morning, and sip Starbuck’s on Thursday night. If things go well, maybe I can buy Mr. Baxter and Ms. Kane a cup of coffee and toast blue-collar workers and urinating in private!


KeySpan All Wet

Dear Editor,

The Wave had an article on KeySpan in the October 14 edition. KeySpan introduced a fact sheet outlining the many reasons natural gas prices were rising. Now let me see if I got this right. I want to compare a grocery store business (or any business) with KeySpan and use the same logic Keyspan used in the Wave article. Let’s say a loaf of bread and a pound of gas.

KeySpan claims that they never raise or lower the price of natural gas. They say the price is set at the well, and they sell it to their customers for the well price. They also claim that they can only raise the price if their transportation costs go up. They haven’t done that for years and they are not about to do it any time soon, according to the article. Isn’t that nice? Now the storeowner can explain more precisely why his loaf of bread is costing more, if he (the storeowner) is the only one in possession of whatever you want.

KeySpan explains the cost of gas going up or down. Hurricane damage and winter cold, they say. Currently the price of natural gas is rising due to the reduced supply coming from the Gulf of Mexico, says KeySpan. Now the storeowner can charge whatever he wants for his last few loaves of bread left on the shelf. Why not, since he is the only store in town. It reminds me of a story I heard growing up in County Cavan, Ireland. A farmer went into a store for a loaf of bread. The storeowner said he was all out of bread, so the farmer trudged a couple of miles to the next store in another town. The farmer said, “A loaf of bread please.” The storeowner said, “That will be three shillings.” The farmer said, “My God, that is highway robbery. The store down yonder in the next town sells it for two shillings.” The storeowner said, “Why don’t you run down yonder to the next town and buy it there?” The farmer said, “He doesn’t have it.” The storeowner said. “Sure, if I didn’t have it, my price would be one shilling.”

KeySpan has great news now. According to KeySpan the average price of natural gas is going up 48% nation wide, but KeySpan is only raising the price 30%. Imagine, a savings of 18% and we are still complaining. I wonder if the rest of the country is aware of this great deal KeySpan is bestowing on us here in little old forgotten Rockaway Beach, Queens, NY. One thing is clear. It is never the fault of KeySpan for the sudden surge in energy costs. It is never the fault of the oil companies for raising the prices. So who is one to blame? I don’t know. Could it be that the energy companies are taking the advantage? If you haven’t learned anything from this article, don’t worry about it. I learned nothing from the Wave article, but maybe that’s what KeySpan wanted. It has absolutely nothing to do with monopoly. If you believe that, Moby Dick is a sardine.


We Need A Dog Run!

Dear Editor,

I strongly support your recent editorial calling for the creation of a bona fide dog run in Rockaway. There is certainly a legitimate need for one! The interaction of pets and owners in a safe and controlled environment would fulfill a social good in the community.

I call upon our local politicians to establish such a dog run. LET’S GET THIS DONE! The current “de facto” location, the unused rink on Beach 108 Street of a defunct roller-skating organization, would be ideal for this purpose and a NO COST option. The regulars who run their dogs at this NYC Parks Department-owned location are considerate and clean up after their pets. Violations could be issued to those who don’t by the police, who could be as vigilant as they were monitoring our beaches this summer.


Development Out Of Scale

Dear Editor,

Last year, my husband and I purchased a bungalow to use during the summer with our family and friends. In the short time we’ve been here we have seen a number of other young families coming to Far Rockaway with a renewed interest in revitalizing this community.

In the past year there have been many buildings that have gone up around us virtually overnight. But the most recent and alarming has been the construction going up along the boardwalk on Beach 25 Street, as it presents a number of issues: The Beach 25th waterfront proposal is for a 15-story luxury beachfront condominium, which does not fit in with general footprint of the neighborhood, which is primarily one story bungalows.

There is a very low economic success rate for a luxury building like this going up in this neighborhood. The track record of other projects in this area should be an indication that the supply is outweighing the demand.

This land is protected by the waterfront revitalization program and although bulldozers removed trees and piping plover nests to make way for the present construction barricade, none of the committee members I contacted seemed concerned about this.

Additionally, no environmental reviews have ever been conducted. For the people that come to Far Rockaway for the first time, to buy their first home, I say, “Buyers Beware.” As many of these people are unaware of the fact that the land between Beach 25 Street and Beach 60 Street off the waterfront is a flood zone. Just last week this entire area was flooded with two feet of water just from a few days of rain.

One only has to look at the photo of Beach 35 Street in the ‘92 Nor’easter in last weeks Wave to see the potential for disaster.

Most of these people also may not know that Far Rockaway has no official evacuation plan to get people out of the peninsula in the event of a hurricane or storm. At the last community board meeting it was evident that there is no such plan including the evacuation of many nursing homes, hospitals and where people, in general, should go. Did we learn nothing from the devastation the people of New Orleans are going through now as a result of Hurricane Katrina?

With buildings going up closer and closer to the water, the dangers are obvious. There is no room to build up sand dunes to protect these buildings. And, when a flood or hurricane does hit, who will be there to answer why developers were allowed to build so close to the water knowing full well the potential dangers?

A 15-story building on a dead end street would be logistical nightmare for the 400+ residents of this building alone, not to mention the parking for the rest of the neighborhood. It seems that city officials have no concern for the nearby community though or they would have considered this.

The present 100-year-old sewer system will not support the infrastructure required for a structure like this, in an area with such a high water table. So it will be necessary for the DEP to upgrade the existing sewer lines to accommodate this building.

I do support both residential and commercial development along the waterfront in Far Rockaway. But I believe this city is signing off on proposals without going through the proper steps and the community is not being allowed to have any say in the future of their community.

At the last community board meeting I recommended organizing a meeting for the community, city officials and developers to brainstorm ideas for the waterfront development. If architects, community members, city planners and developers worked together, we could design a future vision that would be suitable for the entire community. A plan for the waterfront that would be good for all of Far Rockaway.

If we do not organize now to discuss the projects going on now and in the future along the waterfront we will create housing that will remain empty and will eventually turn into a slum.

A meeting like this would allow the public to better understand the issues of building on the waterfront and would help the developers to build something better suited for the community. The developers and the community both need one another to be successful, so why not work together.

If the city were concerned about the public, they would initiate a meeting like this and develop an official evacuation plan. This would also allow the city to make the necessary precautions for the safety and future of this community.

I urge people to contact the Department of Buildings, City Planning, and Community Board 14 to demand such a meeting. We only have one waterfront and it seems like there is a rush to put up construction overnight with no environmental reviews or overall waterfront plan. It is such a shame to waste so much time, effort and money, building something that hasn’t gone through the proper steps, just to have so many peoples dreams washed away.

We all want a prosperous future. Let’s talk about the issues.


We Also Want One

Dear Editor;

I have been following your discussion of a dog run for Rockaway over the past few weeks. You speak of a dog run for the west end only.

I live in Wavecrest Gardens, on Beach 25 Street, and I would like to see us have a dog run on the beach at this end of the peninsula as well.

When I walk my dogs on the boardwalk (in the winter only, of course) I run into many other dog walkers as well. We have formed something of a community and often get together even without our dogs. Doesn’t this community deserve some amenities as well?

As I see it, there should be at least six dog runs on or nearby the beach throughout the peninsula – one at Beach 20 Street, one at Beach 57 Street, a fourth at Beach 73 Street a fourth at Beach 108 Street and the final one at Beach 156 Street.

Dogs foster community, and government should do all it can to help that community grow.



Memories Of The ’38 Hurricane

The following letter is in response to “Hurricane Lashes The Peninsula,” page 77 of the 9/30 issue of The Wave.

Dear Editor,

September 22, 1938. I was 16 at the time, and I remember it well. Boats from the bay were in people’s front yards, and houses on the end of the canals were washed away. On West 13 Road, there was a two-car garage (never re-built). The cars landed in the bay, right next to Emma and Charlie Phillipp’s house. Tilly Schepper of West 14 tried to put her refrigerator on cement blocks and had a stroke. They took her to Rockaway Beach Hospital in a rowboat with an outboard motor.

The man that was electrocuted was a Mr. LeBouf of West 14 Road. He stepped on a live wire. Yvonne LeBouf, his daughter, was my best friend.

We wouldn’t stay here during hurricanes, but would go to my brother Bill’s house on Livonia Avenue in Brooklyn. How we hated those things (hurricanes), usually in the fall but sometimes in the spring.

September 1960 was also a pretty bad one, the sixth or seventh. I had just come home from the hospital with my three-day old daughter, Bonny, and opened the trapdoor down to the cellar. One inch more and the rain would have gotten through to the house, like it did in many people’s houses. And the next day, refrigerators, radios and rugs were set out in the garbage.

But nothing like Katrina, but I guess it could happen, and I sure hope I’m not around to see it.


Don’t Print Rumors

Dear Editor;

It’s one thing to complain about underage drinking, but it’s quite another to make false accusations of drinking and driving.  Stella Maris High School is a local school and yes, some of their students may have been participating in some local activities.  Would you not have noticed these girls if they hadn’t been hosting their party across the street from a relative’s house?

If you’re going to point a finger at Stella Maris, how about you at least MENTION the Bishop Kearney Walkathon the week before— those girls were wandering around this peninsula, drunk and in their walkathon shirts.  You could at least give them a mention in this week’s Beachcomber, too. 

Sometimes this newspaper seems more like a rumor-filled, biased-driven newsletter than an actual newspaper.  And for the record, Stella Maris is a great school filled with a wonderful faculty and an even better student body; but that’s my opinion, not a fact. 

Or does it not make a difference when it comes to The Wave?  Let’s try to distinguish the two...this is supposed to be journalism, after all. 



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I, too remember Hurricane Donna . September 12,1960. My first day of High School. We were starting at Martin Van Buren High School in Floral Park. It took hours to travel the long Q43 trip up Hillside Ave. Upon reaching the school, I was amazed to see water in front of the school four to six feet deep. Students were actually swimming back and forth to the front door. I didn't have the heart as the temp was not that high. I was not in Rockaway that day, but the tv.and newspapers showed planks from the Boardwalk making it over to Jamaica Bay. Boats taking flooded out people to safety near the Bay side. Later that week end I did see some remaining debris in the vacant lots on the Pennisula.
McKinley Hightower-Beyah

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