2009-12-18 / Columnists

From The Councilman's Desk

Rockaway Braces For A Perfect Storm
Commentary By Councilman Eric Ulrich

ERIC ULRICH ERIC ULRICH We are all aware that our City and State are in the midst of a severe economic crisis. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. However, the MTA's decision to balance their books on the backs of Rockaway and Broad Channel residents is not only outrageous, but moronic at best.

The "doomsday" budget passed this week reflects the lack of concern and common sense that members of the executive board show for the middle and working class people of this city. The Rockaways, Broad Channel and nearly every corner of the South Queens community are already in need of improved transportation infrastructure, and simply cannot shoulder the burden of the proposed cuts.

Why doesn't the MTA realize that one of those cuts, the Rockaway Rebate Program, is not a luxury, but rather a necessity? Forcing residents to pay a toll go to-and-from work, school, or even church is unconscionable. The $2.2 million the MTA would save by eliminating the rebate is only a tiny drop in the bucket when compared to the $383 million budget gap.

If these cuts weren't enough to break the backs of peninsula residents, the MTA's draconian plan for 2010 will also punish families and their children by eliminating student transit passes.

These MetroCards are a vital lifeline for the city's 500,000+ students who utilize them to get to school each day.

The MTA cuts, coupled with the Department of Education's recent announcement to close Beach Channel High School, are sure to wreak havoc on the Rockaway community for years to come. There will undoubtedly be a serious shortage of classroom seats available for high school students from Rockaway, especially considering the fact that Stella Maris is also slated to close at the end of this academic year. This begs the obvious question - where will the children of rockaway go to school, and how will they afford to get there?

The residents of Rockaway deserve better.

Staten Islanders, by contrast, enjoy a deep E-Z Pass discount, reliable express bus service to Manhattan, and free ferry transportation.

Rockaway deserves its fair share too.

Please stop by my district office (98-16 Rockaway Beach Boulevard) to sign a petition urging the MTA to stop playing the blame game and come up with a plan that doesn't leave Rockaway stranded.

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