2011-03-04 / Columnists

Notes From The High C’s

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
By Sharon Gabriel

Hello! Are you there? I’ve just crawled my way out of a snow pile which I’ve been under since December. Can you believe this winter? If I never see snow again it will be too soon. Since Thanksgiving last year we have had every type of weather you can think of thrown at us; snow, sleet, rain, wind, cold, ice ... did I leave anything out?

Just the other day we were teased with 60 degrees and I actually opened the sunroof on my car. What a delight. Then it’s right back to 50 mile an hour winds. Enough already!!

Well, the chickens have finally come back to roost. As I have been saying for the past few years, Gateway really doesn’t want any group in Fort Tilden or at Riis Park. First our festival had to be cancelled because of the outlandish costs and then the concerts were pushed out. (Hopefully we will be having some concerts this summer and I will let you know where and when.) And now, an article on page one of The Wave last week confirmed my thoughts, which I conveyed to our Board some time ago, that after us, Gateway would go after the Rockaway Theatre Company, the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the Little League to throw all of them out of the park as well.

The new superintendent told Community Board 14 that they are doing their best to work with local organizations. My question is, to do what? I think that she has to speak to someone up the line of command and let them know that if you don’t have local organizations in this park (Riis Park and Fort Tilden) you will have no one.

With all due respect to the Friends of Gateway, there are enough places to see our birds and other feathered friends. That’s what the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge is for. Now let other parts of the park be used for the community which is what the new superintendent wants to do.

To look at the situation in another way, there is no place in Rockaway to provide the Fall Festival and Summer Concerts because of parking restrictions. Where do you put a couple of hundred cars? Not Shorefront Parkway, Beach Channel Drive or the side streets.

As Vince Castellano stated in the article, national parks and national recreation areas were to have two different objectives. That makes a lot of sense as a park is one thing, think geysers and the Grand Canyon, and a recreation area which should be used for “recreation.”

Obviously Washington doesn’t think that way any more, but they are far removed from Gateway and don’t understand the logistics of this park. According to the government mission, the recreation areas were to provide for recreational space.

That has now changed to restoration-based. Exactly what are they going to restore in Fort Tilden, the old buildings there from WWII that are falling down? Or, the little railroad that brought the ammunition to the front of the bunkers to save us from the Germans?

Talk about restoring!!!

They redid the Bathhouse at Riis Park and it is beautiful but instead of thinking ahead, it was used for offices and then the personnel were moved to Floyd Bennett. This is a perfect building to hold party galas, weddings and other fancy events and the park could make a lot of money.

So now I assume it is going to stand there and do nothing. What a waste of a beautiful building.

As an organization, over the years, the RMAC has written to the Secretary of the Interior, our senators and congressmen and even to reporters for some of the New York newspapers to try to obtain some help and none is there. I am really so steamed, which you might get from this column, that no one will listen to us. We pay taxes for the park, including salaries and we have a right to use our “recreation area.”

If you want to help, please write to the Secretary of the Interior, Congressman Weiner and our senators and let them know how you feel.

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