2008-10-31 / Letters

What Will Happen To Fort Tilden?

To Fort Tilden? Dear Editor,

To paraphrase the lyrics from the memorable Buffalo Springfield song, "There's somethin' happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear; There's a man with a pen [sic] over there; Telling us [sic], we [sic] got to beware; it's time to stop we children - what's that sound; No one [sic] knows what's going down …

This verse succinctly describes the current actions and apparent plans of the National Park Service (NPS) and Gateway National Recreational Area towards the Rockaway community and the residents of the Rockaway peninsula and its surrounds, regarding the use of the Fort Tilden area.

This summer, all of the Sunday evening music events were summarily canceled by the NPS without any rational reason provided for their termination.

Most recently, the local AA chapter, which for years held regular meetings at the chapel in Fort Tilden, was told to pack and go on little if any notice.

Are the Rockaway Theatre Company, the Rockaway Artists Alliance and Rockaway Little League (who have made substantial improvements to their respective 'homes' and who have provided much cultural and athletic benefit to the community) next to be "evicted?" Are Sunday morning walks and bike rides along the beach road next to be restricted or prevented? Will fishermen with permits next be told to fish elsewhere?

When inquiry is made to NPS as to its "current plans" for Fort Tilden, one receives the same bureaucratic response as if he or she was a guest at a pot luck dinner - "Pass the plate please."

No one, at NPS as usual, is willing to accept responsibility for the summary actions of NPS or provide a rational explanation as to its actions, which now appear to be detrimental to a number of important community groups and organizations who use and improve this otherwise barren facility. (Look at the condition of a few of the buildings near the Rockaway ferry pier or near the Rockaway Theater.)

NPS has no authority to act without a "written plan." It is not a private citizen or a 'feudal estate' that can act by a unilateral, self-serving caveat. NPS should not be entitled to "erase" athletic, social and cultural organizations which serve our citizens and community at no cost or expense to it.

If NPS is permitted to remove these wonderful organizations, and to restrict the use of Fort Tilden, is the 'privatization' of Fort Tilden to the highest bidder on the horizon?

"Take the word out into the streets" to insure that the NPS is required and mandated to continue to provide all of us with the full and untrammeled use of Fort Tilden and its' facilities. It is a valuable public resource, the use of which should be expanded, encouraged and promulgated and not limited or restricted by the whim and caprice of a few bureaucrats with some xenophobic purpose.


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