2006-10-20 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

District Leader Lew M. Simon and local attorney Jodi Orlow dined at the dinner and discussed Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park issues. Shown are Congressman and County Leader Joe Crowley, his mom, uncle, sister, brother and his Aunt Peggy and cousin Ellen from Rockaway. 
District Leader Lew M. Simon and local attorney Jodi Orlow dined at the dinner and discussed Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park issues. Shown are Congressman and County Leader Joe Crowley, his mom, uncle, sister, brother and his Aunt Peggy and cousin Ellen from Rockaway.

It's been an exciting week. We are determined to keep the Rockaway community the great place it is. You may remember the great scandal of 1998 when a tropical storm hit on the Labor Day weekend. The N.Y.C. Buildings Department deemed that the Neponsit Home, a Health and Hospitals Corporation residential facility for seniors and others in need of supported living, was in imminent danger of collapse. The residents and staff were removed in the middle of the night and scattered over the city.

Now in 2006 the buildings are still standing. The H.H.C. tried to quietly schedule a hearing to authorize the destruction of the buildings and rezoning of the valuable beach property. If it weren't for my friend Craig Bachrow who was reading the classified ads in the Daily News we would never know. Thanks Craig, we love you.

After this pit bull got on the phone with LaRay Brown,Vice President of the H.H.C., and gave her hell for not notifying me or the community of their grandiose plans, the hearing was cancelled. The hearing would have included requesting state legislation to eliminate land legally designated for hospital or park use. Vice President Brown said the land would be used for low rise, market rate housing possibly townhouses or one family houses. Immediately my pit bull teeth came out and I started to argue and said unacceptable.

During the summer I had heard at a meeting of the Neponsit Property Owners of possible one family houses in a cul-de-sac. We had no problems with that. I spoke to Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer about the legal elimination of parkland.

She said that it could take from six months to six or seven years. Seven acres of land in Rockaway would have to be designated as parkland for each acre removed from park status. We also found that Assemblywoman Pheffer, or any other local elected official, had not been notified about the hearing. Leroy Temple of the Parks Department told me that they were not prepared to take over care of the Neponsit property if HHC relinquished it.

When we received the call on Wednesday at 5:30 PM canceling the hearing, we demanded an informational presentation in our community, to be followed by a public hearing so residents of the Rockaways could speak out.

The meeting should be held after 7 p.m. so that people who work for a living don't have to lose working time and pay.

At the Community Board 14 meeting on Tuesday evening I felt like a miracle had happened. Chair Dolores Orr and District Manager Jonathan Gaska said they actually agreed with me that all beaches should be protected by lifeguards until 8 p.m. We'd like to thank Dan Mundy and the ad hoc committee he put together for their hard work and determination. We don't agree that the City Council Parks and Recreation Committee hearing be held in City Hall. We demand our rights as taxpayers to hold it in our community.

On Wednesday afternoon we attended the first Annual Sukkot Carnival of Yeshiva of Belle Harbor. It was great to see the hundreds of parents and children having a great time. Local attorney and Yeshiva Board Chair Jodi Orlow Mackoff was ecstatic over the great success.

On Wednesday evening Jodi Orlow and I attended Congressman Joseph Crowley's election fundraiser. We had the pleasure and honor of sitting with the Crowley family which included Rockaway's own Peggy Moran, Joe Crowley's aunt, and her lovely daughter Ellen Moran.

It was nice to know that Rockaway is so well represented with the Queens County Democratic leader Congressman Joseph Crowley.

We have made a new connection with the New York City Department of Transportation. An urban planner, Dan Roth, will oversee straightening out the Shorefront Parkway fiasco and overseeing the future development of Shorefront parkway and other streets in our community. It is our chance to be heard about one lane going each way. Call Dan Roth at (718) 391-2713. Tell him we need our two lanes and to get rid of the striping and other art work.

He's looking into a proposal for parking on the south side of Shorefront Parkway along with a bicycle and skating lane.

On Saturday the sun was shining down on Rockaway Beach from God's kingdom in heaven. Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 95 Street to Beach 102 Street has been renamed Msgr. William F. Burke Way. In 1995 community leader and local attorney Terry Flynn Sr. and I worked diligently to obtain 862 signatures to rename Beach 100 Street at St. Camillus for Msgr. Burke. After getting support from the Rockaway Council of the Knights of Columbus and Father Dunn of St. Camillus we found out that streets cannot be named for living persons.

Immediately after the death of Msgr. Burke we went back to Community Board 14 and the Knight of Columbus Hall to rename this street.

On Saturday, Msgr's world renowned St. Camillus band, which he started and which continues to play in his memory, played proudly. Sandee Doremus of Councilman Addabbo's staff officiated at the renaming ceremony. We were proud to speak along with Dolores Orr Chair of Community Board 14, Barbara Dunn of St. Camillus and Richard Knott of the K of C branch named in Msgr. Burke's honor.

The ceremony included a young board member who read a beautiful poem, a letter from Msgr's niece who couldn't attend and Shannon Biscaino's singing of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Everyone who attended was happy and proud that a well deserved honor was given to Msgr. Burke who one day should become a saint.

Our Atlantic City bus trip will be on Saturday October 21. We leave at 5:30 PM and return at 8 AM. The cost is $35 with $25 returned. Bagels and cream cheese courtesy of beach bagels are served. Call 945-1216 now for your reservation.

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