2007-09-14 / Letters

Get More Involved In Coastal Zone Management

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the story on the lifeguards. The residents and visitors had a great summer enjoying the public beach and in the surf and professional service of the lifeguards on Beach 25 Street; Vinney O'Donoghue, Chief and Ray Guilbaud, Lieutenant, Sean Bellew, Shavon Kelly, Jonathan Sorocki and Jennifer Pati.

Special thanks to Jeanne Dupont of the Waterfront Alliance, who made this all happen with her hard work and determination. The beachside bungalow area of Beach 24 to 26 is a very attractive area and fast becoming a happening place for creative people attracted to the oceanfront environment; its architecture is historically significant to Rockaway's 1920 heyday, as determined by this state's National Register for Historic Places.

In regards to the new zoning revisions to our area, New York City Department of City Planning is legally required (in contract with the Department of Commerce, through its Waterfront Revitalization Program) to revise the zoning and building code to conform to the essential neighborhood character of the entire peninsula. Even though the zoning has not been revised, all projects have to comply with the 10 WRP Coastal Policies and the 44 State Coastal Policies through Consistency Assessment, that are not being completed and not on file with all the permitting agencies. Most of the projects in Rockaway are non-compliant without a CAF, that also requires an Environmental Impact Study being on file.

New York City's Waterfront Revitalization Program (NYC WRP) was approved on September 30, 1982 by the Secretary of Commerce together with New York State's Coastal Management Program (NYS CMP). The U.S. Department of Commerce completed a State of New York Coastal Management Program Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on NYS CMP and NYC WRP. New York City Department of City Planning acts as the City Coastal Commission and is responsible for implementing the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA) through its Waterfront Revitalization Program Coastal Policies and the State 44 Coastal Policies.

City Planning is required to do zoning and building code revisions to maintain the essential neighborhood character, as required for sensitive preservation of coastal communities, and protect, preserve and maintain "existing" access to the waterfront provided by easements on private property and public streets. This program also requires public participation in the entire program with education workshops conducted by New York State Coastal Management Program, Coastal Resource Division and the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Coastal Resource Management (NOAA/OCRM).

The last evaluation of these programs in 2003 by NOAA/OCRM required the State CMP and City WRP to reach out to smaller groups to provide better understanding about the program. Has anyone from any group or at the community board been contacted by the State or City Planning to conduct education workshops?

The entire program relies upon citizen participation in zoning, including all plans and projects and consistency determinations, since it is funded by U.S. Treasury tax dollars, also called Congressional Appropriation, which is for a public purpose authorized by the CZMA. Has anyone received any help from any Congressman that represents our area?

New York State CMP has already received $4.5 billion to improve coastal areas with part of this money to City Planning for park improvement and increasing public access to the waterfront, but the city and state continue eliminating streets (46 in Arverne) and easements in our area, giving these public access areas over to developers for personal profit and gain. Once Arverne is completed, the people on the adjacent blocks will wake up and realize that they and the public cannot get to the beach because the street has housing on it.

The Rockaway community and CB 14 should get more involved and contact the state and city programs and NOAA/OCRM New York Specialists, which all can be found online. The U.S. DOC FEIS and Evaluations can be obtained by FOIL request to NOAA/OCRM in Silver Spring, Maryland.

RICHARD GEORGE

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