2010-05-14 / Columnists

Simon says...

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. art B

On Friday April 30, I set up a meeting with Jay Deutchman, the new owner of the Rockaway Park Hotel, on behalf of myself and Senator Malcolm Smith.

Also attending the meeting were Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer’s Chief of Staff Joanne Shapiro, Paul Nichols, counsel to Senator Smith, Peter Sammon, President Neponsit Property Owners, Maureen Walsh, Vice President Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents, John Baxter, publisher, actor, community leader and owner of a neighboring hotel, Danny Ruscillo, President 100 Precinct Community Council and neighboring merchants and prospective merchants on Beach 116 Street. Dina Kaliko, one of the prospective merchants is in the process of purchasing the Sandbar, which she plans to open as a beautiful restaurant in March 2011.

The purpose of the meeting was to hear from Mr. Deutchman about his plan to use the Rockaway Park Hotel which he purchased for $2.7 million. We wanted to let him know how we felt about his plans. Deutchman told us that he would be renting rooms to people who were undergoing drug rehab and attending day treatment programs. Not one person in our group was happy about the proposal. We do not need this type of tenant. We go 10 steps forward and 30 steps back. Deutchman states that if one of his tenants did not go to treatment he would put him out. He would charge $215 a month with two persons in a room. We do not believe that someone would pay almost $3 million unless they expected grants from Section 8, Jiggetts or other subsidies. Deutchman also purchased 154 Beach 114 Street which had been a notorious SRO during the 1990’s. We are going to be watching and are prepared to rally. This is something that is not needed in Rockaway. We don’t understand why he couldn’t build a hotel of substance where family members could stay when visiting. Deutchman says it is hard to get a loan, yet he has the money to do this unscrupulous stuff. We want to see a long term plan for this location. Not one person in the room thought this plan was acceptable. Basically there is nothing we can do outside of voicing our anger and outrage. We will stay vigilant with the Department of Buildings and Fire Department.

We are very, very happy that Beach Channel High School has a reprieve through the courts. As a proud alumnus, we will continue to speak out in support of the school. The programs that made BCHS special like oceanography, marine biology, auto mechanics and mock trial must be reinstituted. Experienced staff must be kept on the job. We have made our views known loud and clear at a meeting of the Community Education Council, to Sandy Brawer and Chancellor Klein. Rockaway’s children need quality schools with the great programs they once had.

State Senator Malcolm Smith presented a State of the District Address on Thursday, April 29, at the Knights of Columbus. With the participation of community leaders Senator Smith reported on what has been accomplished for the community through his efforts. He listed funding for the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Rockaway Music and Arts Council, Rockaway Theatre Company and Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department. He told of a $600,000 grant he obtained for Peninsula Hospital for a program that may be able to predict heart attacks. He introduced staff members who are available to help the community including Paul Nichols, attorney, Curtis Taylor, former Newsday reporter and Meredith Henderson, Chief of Staff.

Smith has introduced a Virtual Town Hall so residents can participate in discussions of community issues in front of their computer at home. The Senate President Pro Tem has restored funding for the City University and supported Operation Safe Peninsula with the NYPD. He has proposed a high speed rail for the State of NY that could bring 200,000 new jobs. Smith sponsors an annual Senior Appreciation Week, a Send a Vet a Valentine program, and an annual Family Day event. Smith and the Senate are working to control state spending and to continue to provide property tax relief. He wants all New Yorkers to work together to overcome the challenges in Albany. In response to a question from Norman Silverman about a high speed rail trip from Rockaway to Manhattan, Senator Smith promised to issue a statement on the subject. The Senator is in support of maintaining the Rockaway ferry.

Registered Democrats in my leadership district (Beach 95 Street to Breezy and Broad Channel) are needed to work on the Election Board on Tuesday September 14 and Election Day, Tuesday November 2. The pay is $200 per day. Call my office at 945-1216 to apply.

We are deeply saddened by the death of an outstanding Rockaway icon, Walter Roberts. I knew Walter all my life as he was my father’s insurance broker. He was active in the Chamber of Commerce and other community activities. His warm smile and kindness went a long way. God must have needed a very special angel in heaven. My deepest sympathy to the family.

State Senator Shirley Huntley represents Broad Channel. Huntley is one of the finest Senators in Albany and works for all the people in her district. She has made a strong commitment to the people of Broad Channel by getting state funds for the BCAC, VFW and Senior Center. She obtained $75,000 for computers for I.S. 47, $5,000 for uniforms for the BCVFD and with Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer $1,000,000 for construction of the new firehouse for the BCVFD. Huntley sponsors a Family Day in Broad Channel in early July and looks forward to saying hello at that time.

Maria of Breezy Dog is out on State Road in Breezy Point with her truck. She has great milkshakes, food and snacks. We should support her as she supports our community. When you see her tell her that Lew sends his love.

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