In last week's Bag of Mail in the May 11 issue, The Wave published a letter from Shammal McCutchin, entitled "Keeping It Real." That letter was in response to an earlier letter from Arthur Chalokis about the west end dunes.
Cholakis came to the office of The Wave last week to complain that McCutchin's letter was insulting and racist and that it caused him to be ridiculed in the community. While the editors at the paper saw nothing racist in the letter, we want to apologize to Cholakis for any mental anguish caused by the publication of the letter.
Ferry Wait Doesn't Add Up
The Wave of May 11 covered the announcement by Mayor Bloomberg of a study to "test the waters" for a ferry service from Rockaway to Lower Manhattan. Welcomed news indeed to many residents that commute to Lower Manhattan. Unfortunately the Mayor also announced that the ferry service would be in place by 2011! Four years from now!
In the same article it is noted that a Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI) would be issued on Wednesday, May 9th for private operators who would have until June 21st to offer a plan. Additionally, the docking pier at Riis Landing has received $1.7 million in improvements and the Federal government appropriated $15 million in funding in August 2004 for the purchase of three ferryboats for this ferry service through the efforts of Congressman Weiner.
Now let's take a look at this - the pier is prepared for the docking of vessels, monies are available to purchase the vessels, and private operators are putting together bids and/or plans to run the vessels!?!?!
How does it take four years to put the service in place???? It doesn't add up!
Need More For Schools
In Mayor's Plan
I am writing regarding Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030, the majority of the attention on television and in the newspapers has centered around the congestion pricing issue, a very regressive tax which I believe will negatively affect Queens residents.
The Mayor's task force was formed to come up with proposals on how to serve a population that is expected to grow by a million residents by 2030. They had to deal with the impact that the increased pressures on housing, energy, sewage, transportation, parks, playgrounds, and infrastructure.
The question I would like to ask Mayor Bloomberg is: Why does education always come last to this Administration?
I believe that nothing reveals the flawed priorities of this administration more than the fact that more than twice as many new seats in sports stadiums will be created over the next five years than new seats in schools.
It's hard to comprehend why there are 117,000 new seats projected for the new Yankees, Mets and Nets stadiums, with only 63,000 new seats in our schools.
One has to question the Administration's priorities when the PlaNYC 2030 task force was explicitly instructed to leave schools out of the plan.
The only mention of schools in the voluminous report, aside from opening up school playgrounds for more hours, is to use school buildings for more housing.
This is just the latest example of how the concerns of New York City public school parents are disregarded by this Administration with their own skewed priorities.
This does not seem to the type of foresight or planning one would expect from a billionaire Mayor who has publicly stated that he wants education to define his legacy as Mayor.
Let's remember that these privately owned - but publicly subsidized in the form of corporate welfare - sports teams will receive sizable amounts from the City's coffers in the form of substantial tax-subsidies and tax-exemptions.
The reported $360 million the City will give the Yankees in tax subsidies and exemptions for their new stadium - this amount alone could fund eight to 10 new elementary schools or eight new high schools with 5,000 new seats.
This doesn't even take into consideration the ample City provided tax-incentives that the Mets and Nets will receive.
What do you think is more important - to have enough seats in our schools for our children to learn or more sky boxes for millionaire team
owners to profit from?
I can assure you that the vast amount of the seats in the stadiums will not be in a price range that the average middle class working person will be able to reasonably afford.
The recently settled Campaign for Fiscal Equity case determined that we needed at least 120,000 new seats to eliminate overcrowding and reduce class size in all grades - not even taking into account any population growth.
The $9.2 billion in capital funding provided in the recently approved New York State budget was to provide smaller class sizes (Nolan/Lancman bill) and build new school libraries, science labs, and other much needed improvements to our children's schools.
Yet the Bloomberg Administration plans to create only 63,000 seats. Incredible as it might sound, since they received all this new funding from the state, they have actually cut back the capital plan by 3,000 seats.
Meanwhile, new housing developments are springing up all over Queens - particularly in Rockaway, here in District 27 - and will likely cause even more overcrowding in our schools.
Every effort must be made by Chancellor Klein and the Mayor to face the urgent needs for more seats and smaller class sizes in our public schools.
I respectfully urge the Mayor to have the PlaNYC 2030 include the education capital funding needed to allow our public schools to have enough seats to be able to provide students with the sound education they are entitled to under the New York State Constitution.
I feel the above steps are necessary for our children to have the ability to compete in the new global economy and to keep America strong and competitive.
DAVID M. QUINTANA
Mr. Culotta has given away the scam. "Faux"? "Moi"?
He is obviously another French Surrender Monkey.
All kidding aside, Mr. Culotta, who claims a great love for democracy, chooses to ignore the desire of a majority of American taxpayers. Every year we show our disapproval of publicly financed elections by not using the check-off provided for this purpose on income tax forms.
Those who claim to love democracy while ignoring the stated will of the governed run the risk of being thought disingenuous.
Worse, their willingness to substitute their judgment for the stated will of the governed is at least authoritarian, certainly not democratic.
Show Me the Pool!
I recall some twenty years ago when the current development of the Arverne Urban renewal area began to take shape.
After much debate and discussion the plan to give the three hundred oceanfront acres to a private developer moved forward. I was a member of Community Board 14 at that time. Whether you were in favor of the proposed development or not there was a united feeling that the community should get something in return for the development of this public land.
The Community Board, from the very beginning, was united in the belief that no development should take place without a community center which would include a state of the art swimming pool.
The community center would not just meet the needs of the new development, but address the need of the entire community. It was to be a mechanism for bringing an entire community together.
The Community Board demanded and the Dept of Housing Preservation and Development, which oversaw the development agreed, that this facility should be built in the early phases of the Arverne development. Nearly a year ago, I received a mailing from Congressman Weiner's office stating the community center complete with pool would be built. It would be fair from the tenor of the mailing, for one to assume Congressman Weiner's advocacy was at least partially responsible for the development of the community center. I even understand with great fanfare there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the community center. I am sure it was an oversight that I was not invited.
At this juncture the question needs to be asked: WHERE'S THE POOL?
There was to be no development west of Beach 72 Street until the community center was built.
Is the Rockaway community to receive nothing for the giving away of over 300 acres of the peoples oceanfront land? Nothing, besides crowded roads, crowded subways, crowded classrooms, crowded stores, crowded emergency rooms and a diminished quality of life?
The developer of Arverne should not be allowed to build any more half million dollar homes on public land and walk away with the profit until he gives back to Rockaway by building the community center that was agreed upon.
It is time for our Community Board and local politicians to stand up and demand not only what was agreed upon but also what is right.
Bark Day Was A Great Day
I would like to congratulate all of my fellow members of ARF ARF (Allied Rockaway Foundation for Animal Recreation & Fitness) for how great a success our event, "Its My Bark Day", turned out to be. It, by far, exceeded my own expectations. Mother Nature was on our side and, with the exception of a very slight drizzle, held back the rain. A great day was had by all.
Our detractors will of course focus most of their energy on the one and only fight that had occurred. These same people will also claim that the fight involved two "Pitbulls." NONE of the dogs involved were pitbulls. The so-called instigator was a big young American Bulldog as was one of the dogs he had hurt. The true culprit of the incident was the owner of the instigator.
He did not have enough control over his own dog and also did not even have the decency to apologize and even went so far as to laugh about the incident afterwards.
As one person, who claims to be against the dog run, stated, "See this is why we shouldn't have a Dog Run." She didn't happen to mention the other few minor scuffles that occurred where the owners were right on top of their dogs. If you are going to argue that we shouldn't have a Dog Run because there will be fights, then we should close every playground in the city, because our kids will fight over who gets to use what swing.
She had also mistakenly focused on an owner that did have two pit bulls that don't get along with other dogs. This owner was responsible enough to keep his/her dogs up on the boardwalk and away from other dogs. This is the type of owner who, like at most of the other Dog Runs in the city, will wait with their dogs outside the Dog Run until it is empty before letting their dogs go in.
This was a great day that should convert most of our detractors to supporters. There seems to be a rumor going around that ARF ARF meetings are closed door members only meetings.
This is not the case in any way shape or form. If you read the "It's What's Happening" pages in The Wave, you will find the date, time and location of our meetings. We welcome supporters and detractors alike. Supporters, we can always use your input, detractors, we are always looking for a chance to ease your concerns. Rockaway desperately needs a Dog Run, especially now that the summer season is upon us as we can no longer use the beach to exercise of four legged friends. See you all at the next meeting.
Dunes Are Not Safe
The following letter is in response to a letter written by Dino Trivlis that appeared in the 5/18 edition of The Wave.
I understand that Trivlis is one of the homeowners who paid for and planted the illegal dunes.
It's not a scientific fact, it's a fact that one of our neighbor's children had his ankle horribly crushed due to these unwanted dunes.
It's a fact that all of the neighboring beaches to Belle Harbor remained in great shape- this barren island known as Rockaway- it's our island. It doesn't belong to the few beachfront homeowners.
The dunes should be removed before some other child or senior citizen is hurt. Access to the beach is impossible for our seniors. I want my 10 grandchildren to enjoy our beaches in a safe environment.
It may not be scientific , but it's a fact that illegal dunes must go. So say 75 percent of my neighbors in Belle Harbor.
RAYMOND F. AGOGLIA SR.
More On The CZMA
This letter is in response to your recent article about JFK Airport and the flight path of planes over the Rockaway Peninsula.
All of the new construction on the peninsula must comply with New York City's Special Waterfront Zoning Regulations, Article VI, which deals with Height Restrictions Around Major Airports.
Sections 61-00 61-21; 61-22 and 61-30 say that in the flight obstruction area, the highest projection of any such building or other structure may, only extend to a height of 30 feet above the curb level.
New construction must be certified under the NYC Special Waterfront Zoning Regulations for Waterfront Public Access and Visual Corridors within entire "waterfront blocks". Waterfront Zoning Sections 62-40 and 62-711 require that " No excavation or building permit shall be issued" for developments on a waterfront block or any other block included with the Waterfront Access Plan until the Chair of City Planning certifies to the Department of Buildings as applicable with these provisions.
Under New York State Coastal Management Program and New York City's Waterfront Revitalization Program the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is empowered to place conditions and restrictions and mitigation measures on any activities and building structures 150 feet landward or adjacent to the DEC buffer area for the new proposed plans.
The New York State Department of State Coastal Resource Division and Department of Environmental Protection have dual enforcement authority over local and state permitting agencies and have a mandate to insure that proposed development comply with Waterfront Zoning Regulations and must provide Consistency Certifications for waterfront developments, but there are none on file for the Rockaway developments.
Although these are part of the requirements of New York State's Coastal Management Program and New York City' Waterfront Revitalization Programs that is funded through our tax dollars of over 4 billion dollars Environmental Protection Fund and Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 implementation awards, the agencies are not enforcing the rules and regulations and authorities that are for a public benefit.
A public benefit is to preserve and protect access to the waterfront over
"existing" pedestrian access areas in the Waterfront Access Plan that include public streets and easements on private property. A public benefit includes the preservation and protection of coastal communities through the enforcement of coastal policies and revisions to the local zoning, building code and coastal erosion and flooding laws and regulations.
So what we have is the State Coastal Management Program and City's Waterfront Revitalization Program receiving more than four billion dollars to protect and preserve access, natural resources and coastal communities but instead have not adhered to the coastal management programs and allow development that is out of control and in violation of all local, state and federal law.
One Student's Opinion
The letter writer has asked that this name be kept anonymous for fear of retribution and The Wave has granted that request.
As someone who is currently attending Scholars' Academy, I would like to take the opportunity to describe to you this substandard and mislabeled academic institution.
In my opinion, I would have to say MS 323Q fosters a poor and uncomfortable learning environment; in regard to its ineffective, intimidating, incompetent, and disrespectful leadership.
The principal and assistant principal have succeeded in subjugating and manipulating the student body while also making teachers scared and almost subservient, to accomplish their own self serving goals, while instituting something much like a spoils system for high ranking PTA members and friends of the principal.
This system is in regard to punishments for certain improprieties and the way certain children are graded. Also, grades are markedly trumpeted up in our school to skew results. This is insofar to say that an overwhelmingly large population of our school is under-performing and in regard to intellect should not be regarded as above average. It is also true that Mr. O'Connell (Principal) and AP Perry firmly believe that the ends justify the means no matter how egregious their actions are to accomplish their own selfish and destructive goals.
It is a disgrace that Scholars' Academy is considered a gifted program. Its recognition as a gifted program does a disservice to overachieving schools.