Still No Response
The following letter was sent to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and to Representative Weiner on October 9, 2009. As of this printing Rockaway Music and Arts Council has received neither reply nor help.
For more than fifty years Rock- away Music and Arts Council has brought to the Rockaways and adjacent communities the very best in the performing, visual and literary arts. For over twenty-five years we have had a successful partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area. But unfortunately the past two years have seen a genuine threat to our continuing relationship.
First allow me to make it clear that RMAC is neither seeking to avoid abiding by the newly enforced (though questionable) rules and regulations of the National Park System, nor do we want an exemption from expenses incurred by Gateway National Park for the maintenance of Fort Tilden and Riis Park grounds due to RMAC’s use.
What we question is the lack of logic behind the NPS not being able to 1) determine what an urban park is all about, and 2) distinguish the difference between “closed” organizations using the open park properties for their members only and organizations open to all such as RMAC, which, without reservations, is the only one bringing into the park many thousands of people each year.
We understand that each organization using Fort Tilden and/or Riis Park property has its own requirements such as area size needed, bathrooms, electric, water, cleanup, etc. none of which are without cost. At this point in time our expenses paid to Gateway this year are over $16,000.00 - $16,000.00 to a public park supported by public funds! Coupled with other expenses that the park would not cover such as rest room necessities and insurance required by the park, we have spent over $26,000.00.
In the past we were able to raise funds during our activities through raffles and donations, but have been barred from doing so last year and this year. As a result, our efforts not only cost us an historically high outlay this year, they have contributed nothing to our ability to defray those expenses. As a non-profit organization RMAC cannot sustain this kind of expense and Letters loss. The high costs imposed on us combined with the limitations in fund raising will impede our efforts in support of school and community activities going forward. This will most likely put an end to RMAC’s fifty years of community service.
The Executive Board would appreciate your help in mediating, if possible, some kind of flexible agreement between Gateway National Recreation Area and Rockaway Music and Arts Council so that we may continue to bring to our communities the activities which have made us the primary cultural organization in the Rockaways.
STEPHEN YAEGER, PRES. ROCKAWAY MUSIC AND ARTS COUNCIL