MTA Executive Director Elliot Lee Sander recently announced that the old Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR is on the five year proposed capital budget list. We are aware that it will not happen overnight. We expect to attend public hearings and to have to convince some elected officials. We recall looking at a transportation map at a MTA hearing and finding no sign of the Rockaway Beach line. Now we are sure that we will be on their map.
No one person could ever accomplish something like this alone. Thanks to the many years and thousands of hours of work put in by people like Jack King, Norman Silverman, Herb Gormley, Carl Perrera, George Haikalis, Mary Park, Warren Weiner, Bobbi Hart, Donna Rea, Joe Tiraco, the late Gloria Warshofsky and many others we are on the map. We also thank Lenny Kohn of Rockaway Graphics who printed and donated copies of the Apple Corridor Plan to other members of our transit group.
The icing on the cake was when I spoke at a Queens Civic Congress meeting and gave an actual plan and spiel to the Executive Director. Gerry Romski of Arverne by the Sea, a member of the Congestion Commission appointed by State Senator Malcolm Smith has been lobbying Sander on a regular basis. Senator Smith has made a commitment to our community to get the line reopened. You always have to give credit where credit is due. We look forward to have our group of determined warriors on the first car of the first train to go over the line.
Congratulations to our new Governor David Patterson, a man of integrity, honesty, charm and charisma. He is a diplomat who has served as Minority Leader in the Senate and worked effectively on both sides of the aisle. He has the confidence and trust of his colleagues. He knows the plight of the Rockaways and in cooperation with Democratic Leader Malcolm Smith should make a major difference in our community.
On Tuesday evening, we attended a meeting of the new postal advisory committee formed by Congressman Gregory Meeks and facilitated by his Chief of Staff, Democratic District Leader Bob Simmons. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the extensive problems of the Rockaway Post Office.
The problems in 11691, 11692, 11693, 11694 and 11697 are all similar. People do not receive mail, people receive mail belonging to others, properly addressed mail is left above the boxes or on counters in apartment buildings, delivery of packages is not attempted and notes are left in boxes requiring an unnecessary trip to the Post Office.
One of my pet peeves is that the Post Office does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Far Rockaway Post Office has steps and no automatic doors. Arverne and Rockaway Beach have no automatic doors. Rockaway Park has a ramp but no automatic doors. It is a disgrace that persons who use a walker, crutches, wheelchair or motor scooter have to wait for someone to hold the door before they can enter a public building. We have been advocating a change for the last six years. Who is enforcing this law?
Once again we are coming to another swimming season. Our Rockaway beaches, the jewel of the East Coast will open. At this time there has not been change in the testing and hiring of lifeguards. Discussion of putting a monitor in the testing facility and a touchpad and clock to show official times has led nowhere. There is no other department in New York City or New York State where the union and the department run the testing process together and keep outsiders out. Unfortunately local residents who trained in our community are the outsiders, although most have extensive ocean experience.
Liam Kavanagh, first deputy Parks Commissioner, works hand in hand with union officials. Commissioner Adrian Benepe makes many promises, which he doesn't keep. We question the infinite wisdom of our Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is doing a fantastic job except in this area. Heads should roll. The standards should be enforced fairly. Lifeguards should be on duty to protect swimmers until 8 p.m. on all Rockaway beaches.
Hank Iori, who has spent many long hours putting together a training program for future lifeguards from our neighborhood and neighboring communities, is urging that testing be moved to the state of the art pool recently opened in Flushing Meadow Park. He urges those interested in keeping all Rockaway beaches open this summer and having the best qualified lifeguards covering them to call 311. Get the operator's name and submit an Agency complaint against the Department of Parks lifeguard training and testing program. Do not allow them to transfer the call to the Parks Department. Get and keep the complaint number.
We also favor the hiring of experienced former lifeguards who live in our community on a part time basis. Many are firefighters, police officers and teachers who would be available to keep beaches protected in the evening and provide extra safety on busy weekends. Why does a large union allow a few leaders of a small local to control city policy?
On February 8, I wrote about a gentleman who moved from a studio to a one-bedroom apartment in one of our housing complexes. He is a patient in the Visiting Nurse Service's Labady program, which was supposed to assist him in moving and furnishing his new apartment. He has still not heard from VNS, but thanks to the generosity of Adam Nussbaum and his partner, owners of our newest retail store Boulevard Furniture and Bedding at 114-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard corner Beach 115 Street, John Hayes now has a beautiful firm couch he can sit on and get up from comfortably. It is valued at $500 and he got it free. Thank God for Boulevard Furniture. We urge everyone to shop locally and support this business.
The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department reached out to me as District Leader to help them in obtaining a refrigerator and oven so that the volunteers could cook a meal and keep cold drinks. We were happy to assist in this matter.
Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday April 12. The cost is $35 with $30 returned. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 7:30 a.m. You have eight hours to enjoy. Bagels and cream cheese are courtesy of Beach Bagels. Call 718-945-1216 now as tickets are limited.
We are proud to be working again with the American Cancer Society, which sponsors the Relay for Life which is a major fundraiser on June 28 and 29 at Riis Park. We are desperately seeking volunteers to put together groups or be part of a group to help raise money to support programs and services for the American Cancer Society. If you would like to get involved contact John Link at (718) 263-2225 ext. 5538 or via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's work together to find a cure.