2007-08-24 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon As the summer comes to an end, we ask ourselves "Where did the summer go?" We felt the Memorial Day weekend was almost yesterday. Now we are quickly coming to the Labor Day weekend. It is time for many barbecues with families and friends and the various Mardi Gras.

During the last two weeks I've been working diligently with the director of the Seaside Senior Center, formerly known as Hammels Senior Center. After a phone call from a constituent in Dayton Towers, I immediately reached out to the director, Rose.

The problem is that the city declared the building housing the center (formerly Gilroy's) unsafe. They question the integrity of the roof. Major renovations would be needed to make it safe. One day the seniors had breakfast and lunch there. The next day only the staff was allowed in the building. Then the landlord refused to allow anyone to enter.

For over 20 years, I can remember the constant day-to-day problems of roof leaks and various other unhealthy and unsafe conditions in that building. For the last five years, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and I worked closely with the Irish Foundation which ran the center, the Department for the Aging and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services trying to negotiate a new home for the center. We thought the Sands Point Building on Beach 102 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard would be the location.

After long discussions with the Cataneses, owners of Sands Point, Catholic Charities came in as the new funding agency and the negotiations fell apart. Then we heard that the center would be temporarily located in the Daniel O'Connell American Legion Hall on Beach 92 Street. The American Legion Hall was sold and the seniors are without a home.

Thanks to the generosity of Elegante Pizza, breakfast was being served in their dining room and it served as a meeting place for pickup to the Beach 121 Street JASA Senior Center, which will be moving soon to a beautiful new place in Surfside Houses on Beach 107 Street.

The center reached out to the First Congregational Church to temporarily rent their hall while they look for a permanent location. Would that be a great temporary location? It would be very sad if this center closed permanently with no home to go to. We will continue to work with the director to do what we can do to help.

We believe that it would be a good marriage for the Senior Center and the Congregational Church if they could agree on a permanent lease. The city pays the rent and we would have to get the city to agree to transfer the funds approved to pay the rent at Seaside Senior Center.

This past Sunday evening was the final concert of the Sunset Picnic series. The great Kenny Vance and the Planotones, Rockaway's own legend, was due to entertain at the annual Leon Locke Memorial Concert. Due to inclement weather the concert had to be held inside. Thanks to the Rockaway Theatre Company for hosting Rockaway Music and Arts Council's concert which literally had to turn hundreds of people away due to lack of space. Thank you for working together as a team so our community can enjoy cultural events.

Later that evening I attended a farewell party for Father O'Connell of St. Thomas More, who has served the parish and community for the last seven years. He has given his time tirelessly to minister, to console and to share his love with all. He visits the sick and elderly in Peninsula Hospital, taking time to sit and listen. Father O'Connell spent many years in Nigeria where he helped to make a difference. He says he will soon be 75 and his family asked him to come home to Ireland to share, spend time and make a difference at home.

Father will soon be marking his golden jubilee anniversary. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. We will all continue to keep him in our prayers, because when you think of a saint, you think of Father Vincent O'Connell.

We are deeply saddened by the deaths of the following four gentlemen. Sylvester (Carl) Farris, former Auxiliary Police Captain, gave many, many years of dedicated service to the 100 Precinct community. His love of community and life was evident when his wife Gloria suffered a stroke a number of years ago and he took excellent care of this fine lady. For the last few years he worked as a crossing guard on Beach 108 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Local attorney Jack Sterngas always made himself available to help the community, West End Temple, Neponsit Property Owners, Jewish War Veterans, and others. What can you say outside of he was a mensch, a scholar, and a wonderful, outstanding individual.

Sol Aaron was a Holocaust survivor who was always proud of his Jewish heritage. He loved to sing in Hebrew, Yiddish, English and Polish. He was a man with a big heart and a lot of love who deeply missed his late wife Frieda and never let a day go by without saying how much he missed her. He was a loving, kind individual.

I knew Les Cohen of Dayton Beach Park for many years. He was a gentleman, loving husband and adored son. He was a friendly, kind and loving individual who passed away at an early age. My deepest sympathy to all the families. It does help to recall all the great memories at the hour of the loss of a loved one.

I have actually been enjoying myself dancing at Dancing Under the Stars, which is sponsored by Sweet'N Low and "yours truly." Ellen Connolly of Connolly Dance Center is a true, dependable, reliable, excellent dance teacher.

We really enjoyed ourselves on Tuesday, August 7, at the 100 Precinct Night Out Against Crime. Congratulations to Precinct Council President Danny Ruscillo and his committee.

It was great to see Jane Deacy, Breezy's own Republican candidate for District Leader and her wonderful, talented husband, Ed Deacy. I hope all Republicans cast their vote on September 18 for an experienced, qualified, loving, caring, no-nonsense leadership.

If you feel we are doing an outstanding job, now we need your help.

Please become a member of the leading Democratic club in Queens, the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. We are always in the forefront of issues affecting the quality of life in our community.

Membership is $25 family, $18 single, and $12 Senior and Young Democrat.

Send your check to the club at 112-20 Beach Channel Drive.

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