2011-02-11 / Letters

An Open Letter To Congressman Weiner

Dear Representative Weiner,

It isn’t often that we get to communicate on such an intimate level; however, at this moment in time, I find a conversation crucial. We elected you to represent us. This is old news. Just because we do not come out in numbers against or for certain projects that affect our neighborhood does not translate into “nobody cares.” What it does mean is you, as elected officials, have got to know by this time that folks seldom come out to meetings. What does this mean? It means that you have to reach out to us, perhaps by phone, to a random selection of constituents for their viewpoints on certain issues so that you can best represent us. Sometimes such outreach is necessary. Other times it is not.

A case in point when it is not is the headline in last week’s “Wave” which read, “JFK Plan Will Impact Bay, Rockaway” and the subhead read, “Weiner, No Input From Community.” What do you think, Rep. Weiner, when there is no input from the community on an issue that pollutes our bay with airplane fuel, fills our airspace with noise and poses the possibility of neighborhood plane crashes, the ramifications of which we are still trying to overcome from flight 587, that we don’t care? Anthony, do you think this neighborhood is in favor of, in essence, making Jamaica Bay a runway for JFK? What you have to do is to find a new and effective way of communicating with your constituents. Just off hand, the Internet comes to mind. The fact that you fail to use the Internet to poll the people means to me that you really do not want to hear the people’s voice or you are too busy appearing on big time TV to remember those who elected you and gave you the opportunity to go Hollywood. When there is an issue that negatively affects our community, Anthony, when it comes to the JFK Plan, I don’t think you need a minion to put your vote where it would best help Rockaway.

Tuesday evening you called a meeting to get Rockaway on board with the proposed Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal Pipeline Project proposed to be built 23 miles from Rockaway’s shoreline. There is also a proposal that the line come ashore at Riis Park under the Riis Park Pitch ’n Putt Golf Course feeding as many as 210 storage outlets in Brooklyn. That the Gas Company co-sponsor will roll out the usual glittering dog and pony show and make having one of these terminals off our shore the greatest thing since sliced bread, it is significant to know that Governor Christie has already squashed the plan off the coast of New Jersey explaining, “Our coast is one of our economic engines, and I would have to be really convinced of both the economic viability of having to do it and the environmental safety. And at this point, I’m not convinced of either.” If it is not good enough for Governor Christie and New Jersey, I feel it is not good enough for Rockaway and New York.

Normally, I would ask about the carcinogenic chemicals used in the drilling and the connection. I would ask about the truck traffic trucking in the equipment for the drilling and how it would affect our roads and bridges. I would ask about noise during the drilling and construction of the pipeline and how long this would have to be endured. Normally, I would ask if Rockaway would run out of gas were it not for this pipeline and liquefied natural gas terminal. But, I already know this not to be the case. I would also ask the dangers inherent in this project. But, I am betting no one will say.

The reality is in these dangerous times of terrorism that sees the gasoline pipeline to JFK monitored by a police car on Cross Bay Boulevard for fear of it being a target for terrorists to explode, you are asking our community to support a situation that would have us sitting 23 miles from a target and possibly atop a mega-ton natural gas bomb? What is wrong with you? The only question here is, “How did this project get this far?” Is it true that an explosion at the site of this pipeline will take out an area twenty blocks in all directions including our bridge? Is it true that the chemicals used are the arsenic based chemicals and carbon carcinogens that we just had removed from our toxic waste site? Why should we think about explosions and life threatening pollution? The gas is liquefied like the oil was in the Gulf spill. Oops!

All of our politicians now hear this: until showing up at meetings actually means something, until the predictable dog and pony shows are history, until projects that compromise our way of life are nipped in the bud rather than brought to the community surreptitiously so that we can be tripped into hanging ourselves, you can expect poor attendance at the meetings you call. But, that you do not find alternate means of contacting your constituents means you do not want to hear from us at all, which means you are not doing your job. Let me make this clear: the JFK Plan sucks, the Pipeline could blow up Rockaway, the LNG terminal could foul our waters and have disastrous effects on the water we drink and the air we breathe. And, if this LNG terminal gets built we can look forward to a series of them up and down our coastline. Please take the time to watch the documentary, “Gasland,” which actually plays the LNG cards from the top of the deck. Anthony, it is your job to protect us. If you agree, make sure the JFK Plan, the LNG terminal and the Pitch ’n Putt Pipeline are off the table forever.

JOAN METTLER

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