2008-07-25 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel

This column is going to be a little bit of this and a little bit of that, some things to bring you up-to-date on what's happening with the RMAC.

As you well know, we will not be having any concerts this summer because of a dispute with officials from the National Park Servce. I also wand to tell you a little about the festival and a also about a about a trip that is being planned for the Fall of the year.

First off all, I would like to comment on the It's My Turn column two weeks ago by Lisa Eckert, the Superintendent of the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreational Area.

Miss Eckert stated that, "In our management of parks, we follow law and policy that is established by the Congress and the National Park Service Director. We cannot nor should we as responsible stewards, change the rules for a few individuals." She further goes on to state, "The Inspector General concluded that Gateway was not fully in compliance; specifically, we were not utilizing the appropriate mechanism of authority or levels of environmental assessment. Corrective action needed to be implemented."

This brings us to our Summer Picnic Concert Series. Yes, we did note that our concerts would be in Riis Park after we found that the facilities at Bay 9, which Parks wanted us to use, instead of Fort Tilden, were not suitable to our needs. We truly didn't like Riis Park either, because neither place was right for Picnic Concerts, and that is exactly what they are. You can't have a picnic on concrete.

We went along with the use of Riis Park, and then asked if we could use the inner part of the bathhouse. It was agreed that if the NPS could get it ready in time we would use it. That never happened.

They never brought in a stage, nor would the Wenger Wagon fit into the allocated space.

The inner part of the bathhouse is still not usable. The place has not been cleaned up.

It was already way into the spring and early summer and at that point we could not book the class of talent that we were accustomed to having. And yes, as Miss Eckert stated, we cancelled. There was nothing else we could do.

As it was, a sound man had been booked months ago, and we will in all probability, have to pay him. I would suggest that the Inspector General come to see Gateway, if he hasn't already, to see what impact the concerts would have on the environment there. I can't believe he would have a problem with neighborhood people having a concert on the grass. Nothing is disturbed and no garbage is left to be cleaned up. What further environmental assessment would have to be made?

Miss Eckert goes on to say that "National parks are an American invention, just like baseball and apple pie." Yes they are, and they are to be used by the American people, not kept as a monument to nothingness as Fort Tilden is becoming. Further on in the column it is stated that there is a "new General Management Plan....a road map to guide the park's operations for the next 10 to 15 years" and "part of that process includes seeking input from the general public." Well, the general public in Rockaway would like to have their concerts back. What is our Government going to do to help us achieve that goal?

Several weeks ago, when writing about our Literary and Film Festival I omitted a very important person from my thank you's. Rosemary Curley, I apologize for omitting your name. Rosemary was the Chairman of the School Competition, a very important part of the event, and on behalf of the Board of the RMAC I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for a job well done. I happened to enter the room where the children were making their presentations and was just so happy to see so many youngsters in attendance. Say what you want about today's children, but if you give them something interesting to do they will not disappoint you. Again, Rosemary, thank you for your generosity of time.

On to the Festival, which this year will be on Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14. Same times and place as always, Riis Park. Vendors have been signing up and all of the children's events are in place. Don't know about any food yet, but I would suggest you come hungry. There's always so much good food to eat.

There is one thing we need and that is you. We are desperately in need of volunteers for both days. If you can give us a minimum of four hours either day, please give me a call and we will discuss how you can help. Helping out the vendors, showing them their slots when they arrive, helping at the children's events or at breakfast, anything you think you can do, we can probably use you. The old saying is "Uncle Sam Needs You," well, the RMAC needs you.

Save the date of October 11 for a very special concert. On that date, at 7:30 p.m. in the evening, the RMAC will be presenting a special concert in memory of Barbara Eisenstadt at Beach Channel High School. Our special guests for the evening will be the Long Island Pops Orchestra conducted by Dean Karahalis and an opening act by the Rockaway Theatre Company.

Both of these groups were favorites of Barbara's and we know she would be delighted with the evening. Tickets will be available at the Festival and other venues throughout Rockaway. We hope you will join us for this very special evening.

Last but certainly not the least, our next Museum Trip.

At the moment we are looking at November for a special fall trip to possibly visit the flowers. That's the only clue I'm giving you. Watch this column for more information. See you around the neighborhood.

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