2007-11-16 / 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 We want to wish everyone a healthy, happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. We remind everyone to give thanks for all the good things that we have.

Our Atlantic City trip to Bally's this Saturday, November 17, leaves at 5:30 p.m. and returns by 7:30 a.m. We have eight hours to enjoy. The cost is $35 with $20 returned. Delicious bagels and cream cheese by Beach Bagels. Call 718-945-1216 now for reservations.

As we come close to the primary election for President of the U.S., on February 5, 2008, it is time for those not registered to come up to register. Don't procrastinate. If you are fed up with the war going nowhere ( we know we can't pull out immediately, it will take time), the price of gasoline and heating oil, constant raises in bridge, tunnel and transit tolls, don't complain if you don't vote. You don't get the right to complain if you don't register.

To follow up on my last column about Surfside Houses, 1 Beach 105 Street, 106-20 and 107-10 Shorefront Parkway, I received a phone call from the owner, Steve Valiotis on Wednesday, October 31. We discussed his plans to build on the Beach 108 Street side of the apartment complex. He plans at least 200 to 300 rental apartments.

In the last 7 years since the previous owner, Zuckerman, was forced out, Valiotis says he has put millions of dollars into improving the buildings. When I questioned the availability of parking, he stated that there are 75 empty spots available. When I asked about zoning rules and required parking, he said we shouldn't complain and should be happy.

The next night, I went to the Tenants Association meeting at 107-10 Shorefront Parkway, which is run by Dr. Geraldine Chapey. When I entered the lobby, I was greeted by Chapey, who said it was not a political meeting. I told her that a number of tenants had invited me and I wanted to bring them upto date on my conversation with the owner.

When I raised my hand to speak, Chapey ignored me many times. Eventually, I was able to let the people know about the owner's plans. People were shocked and upset to hear about the planned construction. Chapey stated that the property adjacent to Key Food on Beach 106 Street, owned by the Catanese brothers, was zoned R- 7A, which is absolutely not true. It is actually zoned as commercial, C2-2. The R-7A is planned for the shopping complex where her office is located. The Catanese brothers fully intend to put a strip mall on the other side of Key Food, next to the future Rite-Aid.

I met with John Young, Queens Director of City Planning, on Monday November 5 with Dolores Orr, Chair of Community Board 14. I questioned Young as to what could be built as-ofright on the Surfside property, which is zoned R-5. In the 1960's, a variance must have allowed them to de-map streets and build three, 13-story buildings. We questioned whether the demapping was allowed to give the area an open corridor. We also stated that we are too impacted and don't need any more housing there.

On Wednesday, Steve Valiotis called to complain that I turned him in to the Department of Buildings. I assured him that I could not have filed any complaint, since no plans have been filed. He again stated that he would build three buildings, with five or six floors, with at least 200 apartments. He also promised that we could see the plans when they are completed.

We are currently awaiting a report from Young as to what Valiotis can build as of right. Look for more information to come. I am quite capable of uncovering breaking stories in our community. This is the kind of story which makes The Wave a great asset to our community.

On Friday evening, November 2, we were proud to work closely with the Women's Hibernians and the Greybeards to help raise monies needed for the family of Chris McCabe, a strong, 15-year-old young man, who has endured 44 surgeries for spina bifida. Although handicapped, he was the first player in a wheelchair allowed to play in the Rockaway Little League, thanks to President Marty Andresen.

It was such a great feeling to see hundreds of people at the Night at the Races fundraiser. It was also great to see people bringing in donations, although they were unable to stay.

Yours truly did the 50-50's with two members, Mary Rooney and local crossing guard, Ann McGovern. As usual, we came in with the most money. When the winning ticket was pulled, I asked whoever won to make a double blessing by donating the money. Thanks to the graciousness and good heart of Pat McGrath, a great Hibernian and wonderful person, he donated $1,000 back to the family. The Ladies Hibernians and the McCabe family came together as a team and made this one of the most special events I have ever worked with.

We understand McCabe is a big Yankee fan and we hope that we can somehow accommodate him and to set up a meeting with some of the Yankee players. We urge everyone reading this to please send in a donation to retire the McCabe medical bills. It was great to see McCabe's grandmother and grandfather, Theresa and Tom McCloud, and his grandmother, Patricia McCabe. Between the McCabe family and the McCloud family, it was overwhelming. Please find it in your heart to help make a difference. You may send contributions to the LAOH Special Fund at 633 Bayside, Breezy Point, NY 11697.

Your membership in the Democratic club is welcomed. Dues are $25 a family, $18 single and $12 for Seniors and Young Dems. Send your check to the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, 112-20 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park, NY 11694.

Our next Atlantic City trip after this weekend will be on Saturday, December 8.

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