2007-09-28 / Letters

A Ghost Town Of New Homes?

The following letter was sent to David Gonzalez in response to an article he wrote for Monday's New York Times Metro Section. The letter is being printed in this spot because the subject of the article was Far Rockaway. His article was entitled, "Risky Loans Help Build Ghost Town Of New Homes."

Dear Mr. Gonzalez,

I would like to comment on several points you make in your article "Risky Loans Build Ghost Town of New Homes."

While many of your observations are accurate, they don't actually take into account the history of the area and other factors that would have required more in-depth research than the day you spent in Rockaway. Are you aware for instance that some of the land used for the developments in Arverne was formerly inhabited by wild packs of dogs that brutally attacked two people. These large tracts of land were also used to dump garbage and were undoubtedly used as a location to sell and buy drugs.

Many of the homes you so naively describe as "sprawling single-family homes with wrap-around porches" were often in such disrepair that they were health and fire risks to the people who lived in them, many of whom were renters. Hundred-year-old homes require significant funds to maintain. Lastly, your jabs at the area such as the one regarding the frequent flights leaving JFK are so irrelevant to your topic they serve only to expose the fact that you confuse cynicism with the more difficult task of objective reporting.

You fail to mention the relative affordability of homes in Rockaway versus similar housing in Brooklyn and other parts of Queens. You fail to mention the fact that these homes are minutes from the ocean and therefore offer families a place for recreation that is superior to the tiny urban parks found in most of the city's neighborhoods. This is a fact that people who own second homes or who have the luxury of living off Central Park or Prospect Park might overlook. Perhaps you are of the opinion that lower-income families aren't concerned with such matters as clean air and safe playgrounds for their children.

As someone who was courted and frequently deceived and lied to by mortgage brokers and realtors, the need for hard-nosed investigative reporting on the phenomenon of speculative real estate is of deep interest to me.

Your article was a halfhearted gesture whose focus was a little-known part of the city and consequently not worth a more thorough and professional effort. Shame on you and the editors who did not care enough to hold you to a higher standard.


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