I can’t express to you how humble I feel being an identified fish in the tiny pond that is Rockaway in your newspaper. Within the last month, I’ve been thanked for remembering Neponsit Health Care facility by two former employees who witnessed its death in person and again through an “It’s My Turn” article I wrote that appeared in The Wave. I’ve been quoted in a letter by a gentleman heretofore unknown to me, Mr. Alex Wright, multiple times in a letter published in the Bag of Mail entitled, ‘Increasingly Blurry.’ That Mr. Wright opted to quote me throughout his letter was a compliment unlike that which I’d ever received. Just last week I was cited by a Wave contributor, Vivian Rattay Carter, in her column, “Rock Solid,” as a person who gives the first amendment a good name. Thank you.
Oft times when I write, I feel nobody reads my words. I remember trying to awaken the community to the sham that is the ‘cleanup’ of our very own toxic waste site. I spread word of meetings which, at the most, twenty-five community residents attended. Naturally, I concluded that only twentyfive people read The Wave for surely everybody here was interested in protecting their personal health and that of their children. When prose didn’t work, I resorted to poetry calling myself Paula Revere. The Wave actually converted the poem into prose revising it structurally making it illegible because they had never dealt with news through poetry. My purpose in writing a news poem, delineating the National Greed (sic) fiasco, was to try to appeal to a new audience. Eventually, Wave editors published the poem on the Poetry page rendering it ridiculous. For your information, the current M.G.P. cleanup, according to some in the know, is a scandal in waiting.
The bottom line in this country, in this state, in this city and in this community is we do have a first amendment. That people who keep quiet when harmful things are being done to their neighbors and their neighborhood are further doing harm. Awakening neighbors to happenings in the area, both bad and good, in the hopes that residents will be spurred to action, has always been my purpose. Too many people hide behind the efforts of others or merely turn a blind eye to occurrences that directly affect them. Challenging your country, your state, your neighborhood does not mean you love it less, my neighbors; it means you care enough it make it better.
I believe what keeps me writing is that I can’t believe that so few people are engaged in federal, state, city and Rockaway happenings. Moreover, I can’t believe that the same political lies and excuses are being perpetrated by our politicians, seemingly unchallenged, on a gullible public with so few people protesting in person or via mail or phone.
Politicians thrive on the theory of divide and conquer which is why we in Rockaway have no voice in what is fed us. Breezy, although in the cooperative with Roxbury, has some significantly separate needs from Roxbury which has separate needs from Neponsit which considers itself above all the little neighborhoods in Rockaway. Neponsitites are living in such rarified air that they refuse to allow outsiders into their meetings when so many issues they discuss behind closed doors affect the entire Tri-community area. Belle Harbor is one snob layer below Neponsit proven by their refusal to allow residents of Beach 124 through Beach129, the true property line of Belle Harbor, into their association. Imagine hand picking which blocks you want in your association when, it would serve your membership better if it had more clout in the person of numbers. Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association is an association with an underlying ethnic and religious agenda either intentionally or incidentally afflicting some membership with this headache. When affordable home heating or homeowners’ insurance should take
Letters the upper hand in meetings, sadly ‘poligion’ (politics and religion) dominates.
The fact is 11694 should have one community organization with one open meeting each month in which all needs and issues are discussed and voted on if need be. If you don’t mind a twist on a saying that applies here: “if Belle Harbor sneezes, Neponsit and Rockaway Park catch cold.” Think it through thoroughly: in order to have clout with our elected politicians a successful community organization needs numbers. The only way we can get enough numbers to make a difference is to combine homeowners’ organizations. United we stand. Divided we think we are hot stuff when in reality we are little fish in tiny ponds. As such, we continue to fall ever so comfortably into enemy (politicians) hands. How many times have our politicians played one association against another with no way of checking their veracity because organization rules prohibit open meetings? The vote on the medians comes to mind, Audrey.
Wake up, tri-community and stop working as three separate entities when we should be working toward the singular sense of neighborhood for all of 11694. Whether the issue is rezoning then sub-dividing the Neponsit Health Care Facility land into 60x100 parcels and selling them off (shhhh) or assigning dockage rights to the Belle Harbor Yacht Club (which is incidentally located in Rockaway Park), it is clear that whatever is happening in any part of the community affects us all. What transpires in one tri-community meeting should not ever come as a surprise to residents of 11694. We all pay real estate taxes to the same City Collector. Stop dividing, Tri-community. If you look at the big picture honestly you would see we have as much of a shared interest in protecting our piece of the Rock as we have in protecting
our first amendment rights.