2007-08-10 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

From left, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, District Leader Lew M. Simon and Gerry D'Albora ready to tour the boardwalk. From left, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, District Leader Lew M. Simon and Gerry D'Albora ready to tour the boardwalk. Last Monday was the first Congressman Tom Manton Golf Tournament, named after our former Democratic County Leader. He was a master on the golf course and helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Queens County Democratic Organization.

The dinner after the golf tournament was attended by a Who's Who of Democratic politics; I had the pleasure of having Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith on one side and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on the other side. City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, County Committee Chair and Assemblywoman Vivian Cook, State Senator Shirley Huntley, former Councilman Archie Spigner, First Deputy Chair Dora Young and former Deputy Mayor and lobbyist Sid Davidoff were at my table.

Some of the other notables included former Borough President Claire Shulman, Councilwomen Melinda Katz and Helen Sears, Councilmen Jim Gennaro, Tony Avella, Dan Gorodnick and Lew Fidler, former Councilwomen Juanita Watkins and Karen Koslowitz, who is Deputy Borough President, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congressman Joe Crowley, who is County Chair, State Senators Toby Stavisky and John Sabini and Assembly Members Audrey Pheffer, Cathy Nolan, Mike Gianaris, Jeff Aubrey, and Nettie Mayersohn and County Clerk Gloria D'Amico, just to name a few.

Judges present included George Heymann, who has done a study on laws permitting the eviction of drug dealers from developments and co-ops, and Bernice Siegel, now a presiding judge of the Civil Court, who as an attorney helped the tenants of Surfside and others around Queens. They are certainly worthy of higher judicial office. The weather report predicted rain, but the loving spirit of the late Congressman Tom Manton had the sun shine and a good time was had by all.

On Wednesday afternoon, we attended the Rockaway Point Association's beautiful barbecue at Fort Tilden. It was organized by Terri and Barney Cassidy, Tom McClellan, Tom O'Keefe, Danny Latham, Maurice Steinhardt, Eileen Young, Cathy and Jack Willis, Joe Kerrigan and Phil, Gerri and Valerie Gilson. Terri and her associates put out one beautiful spread of food and desserts. Barney is some great cook. This event was one of the best I attended all year. Hats off to the Rockaway Point Association, and their wonderful committee members, for the afternoon with truly wonderful people.

On Wednesday afternoon, we attended a meeting of Community Board 14's Housing and Community Renewal committee co-chaired by Vince Castellano and Zandra Myers. An issue of contention is the long-term commitment made to the community 20 years ago that a swimming pool capable of major competitive swimming events, including Olympic trials, be included in the development of Arverne. The current plans now call for a 25-yard-long pool with a 30-foot-width and no spectator section. A separate aquatic center would include a shallow end and a slide.

Former Community Board 14 member and community activist Kevin Callaghan spoke up loudly for an Olympic size pool for proper training and competition. Along with current board member Mike Tubridy and community activist Dan Tubridy, he demanded a full-size pool. It was suggested that it would cost $1.3 to $3 million more. They were told to reach out to their elected officials.

Two weeks ago, the Graybeards held their annual run to raise money for the Special Olympics and the Scholars' Academy. The well-attended event raises a lot of money for the Special Olympics. Every year, we enjoy recording the tags of the people as they cross the finish line. The Graybeards in conjunction with Joe Featherson of Special Olympics always do a phenomenal job. This year it was held at St. Francis. Next year it will be at St. Camillus.

In June, I asked Councilman Joe Addabbo to set a date to inspect the boardwalk with me from Beach 73 to Beach 126 Streets. On August 2, Sandee Doremus of the Councilman's office, who is one of the hardest workers we know, called me at 3:15 p.m. to confirm that the Councilman would walk the boardwalk with me at 11 a.m. on Friday.

The weather was hot and humid. Councilman Addabbo, Gerry D'Albora, Norman Silverman, and Joe's staff member Peter De Luca, who is a fine gentleman and scholar, Andy McGee, an excellent photographer and a gentleman and very hard worker who is always there to help the community, joined us. Miriam Rosenberg, Contributing Editor of The Wave kept a written and photographic record of our walk.

We came up with a whole litany of complaints. Residents approached us to complain about broken boards, and use of overturned trash baskets to hold Parks Enforcement umbrellas. We met a two-man carpenter crew replacing individual boards they found dangerous. They said they could do 8 to 10 boards a day. At the rate they are going, it would take five years to repair what we found.

Jill Weber, Rockaway Parks Administrator, was not available because it was her day off. Most of the boardwalk from Beach 73 to 98 Streets needs a complete replacement, not a band-aid. There are broken boards and screws that protrude, because the boards are cracked and will not hold the screws.

We would like to personally thank Councilman Joe Addabbo for keeping his word. It was great to once again work as a team to make a difference in the Rockaways. Peter DeLuca noted all the major trip hazards and the Councilman said he would bring them to the attention of the Parks Department. Thank you Joe, it felt like old times. Keep up the good work.

After the councilman returned to his office, I toured the boardwalk from Beach 116 Street to Beach 126 Street. Michael P, owner of the beachfront house at Beach 126 Street, showed us where the Parks Department broke his sidewalk and killed his tree with their trucks. He demanded that they build a ramp in the street so that would not ride on his sidewalk.

After talking to numerous people along the way, we found that everyone agreed that Parks Department trucks are destroying the boardwalk. They should use carts similar to golf carts to travel on the boardwalk. Trucks, when necessary, should run on the sand or on Shorefront Parkway. We look forward to completing our walk from Beach 98 Street to Beach 116 Street and meeting with Jill Weber to discuss our findings.

We are proud that the Good Government Regular Democratic Club collected the most nominating petition signatures in Queens. To join this great organization, send your dues of $25 family, $18 single or $12 seniors and Young Dems to 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park NY 11694.

Our next Atlantic City trip will be to the Bally Claridge on Saturday, August 18. The cost is $35, with $20 re- -turned. Call 718-945-1216 for required reservations.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Martin T. Fahy. He was extremely active in the community, a member of Community Board 14, and a gentleman, scholar, great husband, father and grandfather. God must have needed someone with love and compassion to be a special angel. My deepest sympathy to his family.

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