2007-03-02 / Editorial/Opinion

Parks Department Should Be Responsive To Rockaway

In September of last year, nearly six months ago, Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathon Gaska sent a written request to the Department of Parks and Recreation, asking for details and documents pertaining to the lifeguard training and testing programs, an issue that is vital to Rockaway and its residents. Gaska is still waiting. The Community Board is supposed to function as the go-between for city government and local residents. It is hard to understand how the community board can adequately perform that official function is the city stonewalls its ability to get pertinent information. The request asked for information that should be readily available and public - a breakdown of the 65 students who attended a pilot Department of Education program and were allegedly marked for failure because they didn't participate in the city's traditional system. The board wants to know who passed and who failed and who ultimately went to work at either a pool or at Rockaway's ocean beaches. The board also requested copies of the lifeguard procedures, training manuals and a copy of the union contract. It is clear to anybody who has been following the story that the lifeguard union is a fiefdom in which its officials bestow jobs only on the initiate, not because of merit, but because of some sense that the union can do whatever it wants, a feeling with which the city agency apparently agrees. You might ask where City Councilman Joe Addabbo, who holds a seat on the council's Park's Committee stands in all this. Addabbo was supposed to host a roundtable discussion on the problem with Councilmember Helen Foster, the committee chairperson and locals involved with the problem. That roundtable has been cancelled twice and no date has been set for a new meeting. Meanwhile, the winter grinds on and this year's lifeguard recruitment drive has started. It is time for Addabbo to insure that Rockaway's voices are heard and that its needs are addressed.

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