2011-03-25 / Letters

Weiner Meeting Will Be A Waste

The following letter was written five days prior to the meeting to which it refers. Dear Editor,

Guess what is happening Thursday evening at 7:30 at the Knights ..., another one of those worthless meetings.

Since this is being written five days prior to the meeting, allow me to guess what will transpire: Weiner will speak. The tension between him and the audience will be palpable. Speakers will vent and incite others to urge them along. The meeting will end. And, absolutely nothing will be accomplished. Of the two major talking points of the evening, bridge toll and community use of Ft. Tilden, the former point is the easier to address.

When the city was sued by Ann Barbarra a number of years ago about the toll on the ‘other bridge,’ the court handed down a ruling that stated the city could not charge a toll on an intraborough bridge and the toll was eliminated. If that bridge is still an intraborough bridge, then the court ruling should be in full force and effect. If the mayor thinks he can reverse the court’s ruling he is wrong. When this illegal toll charge is brought before the court and upheld again, the city should be forced to return the toll money it has collected illegally. What does this mayor think, he can manipulate the courts as he did the people’s votes on term limits? It’s not the same. The toll decision is court ruled and binding.

The people’s vote, as all are witness, does not count for anything.

The second talking point centers around how the National Park Ser- vice views Fort Tilden and Riis Park. To say the feds are out of touch as to our community and our Gateway beaches and land is to say it all. Rockaway’s west end branch of Gateway is unique in that our neighborhood’s physical reality allows for no recreational areas on our too narrow peninsula. It was precisely that our children had no place to play that led to our partnering with Nat. Parks for the opportunity to develop little league, soccer, t-ball, et al. Our scarcity of land is still the same, yet the USNPS is saying to us “we don’t care that Ft. Tilden has given the place for your children to play and develop physically and mentally as young men and women.” “We want our land back.” “If you want to continue to use the land, your children must pay for each use as though they were visiting Yosemite.” Further, they are saying that “USNPS is not Parks and Recreation. It’s just parks.” “Recreation really has no place in their parks.” To which I say, get your heads out of your power points and open up your narrow definition of USNPS parks to serve a broader audience. Be a friend to the taxpayer, not an adversary.

The truth is, were Ft. Tilden not occupied by our children, theater-goers and our artists, it would be the desolate, pitiful, dilapidated useless piece of land it was. That’s what gradually became of Tilden since WW II until insightful Rockaway residents renovated the buildings and re-landscaped the ball fields. What artists and laborers did with the theater is nothing short of remarkable. What they did with the art building and the museum is a miracle. Now, once the hard work is done, NPS is calling in their chips. Why? What is the grand plan for a three month park on a beach? There is no reason to believe that Gateway has a plan for use of Riis, Tilden, Silver Gull and Surf Club. It just wants them; and, as past is prelude to the future, they will slowly sink into disrepair.

Feds, listen up. No matter how much money you sink into it, Riis and Tilden will always be underutilized and never be a money maker. To explain further, nobody goes to the beach in New York in the winter. Is that clear? Thus, if evaluated on a 12 month basis by usage and income, Tilden and Riis would always be losers. You acknowledge that Riis Park and Ft. Tilden are only three month operations by relocating your headquarters away from Rockaway to Floyd Bennett between Labor Day and Memorial Day, the other nine months of the year. How much of a splash can you possibly make in a three month season? If you want to research how unsuccessful you’ll be just interview the number of businesses that have gone under in the west end trying to stretch three month income for twelve months of bills.

Tilden has become an extension of our community because it was lying fallow and local visionaries saw it as a community asset. You agreed to this. To now equate us with any other branch of the USNPS is wrong and imbecilic. We know what we have here is special to us. You gave it to us and now you want to take it away from us by making it unaffordable. Don’t our federal taxes account for anything? You have already shown your bullying best by charging fees exorbitant enough to eliminate our Fall Festival and our Summer Concert Series. Who needs culture, anyway? Is that your attitude that culture has no place in USNPS parks? Now it is, “Who needs recreation?” In your effort to make Riis and Tilden into expensive three month parks that nobody will use, you are attempting to price tag us out of our own backyard.

We are asking to be treated differently from the other national parks because we are. We have gotten along for the last 30 years with but a minimum of attention from the feds. But, we do have our needs: We want our theater, art buildings and athletic facilities at Ft. Tilden to be left alone. We want free access to the bicycle paths and field area as it is our home court so to speak. We want the Fall Festival and the Summer Concert Series return with no fees involved. And, we want an apology for your rough and uncaring handling of the entire situation. While we are at it, we also want a state of the art competitive swimming pool situated in the Riis Park Parking Lot. We know the fed is deficit spending. However, we never got our pool when there was a surplus. Now is as good a time to ask as any.

To Anthony Weiner, you know how dear our Tilden facilities are to our west end residents; yet, you allow us to be abused by the government you serve as our voice. Childhood obesity is chronic and a path to adult ill health in today’s America. Can’t you and your USNPS continue providing a service to our youth and reclassify the fort and our use of it as a charity?

Anthony, either you are grandstanding knowing the outcome of our plight is in our favor and wish to get our votes by acting this drama to the eleventh hour; or, you are so wrapped up in your run for mayor that you fail to recognize the needs of west end Rockaway residents. If you let your opportunity to serve our community in its time of need slip through your fingers, you will lose your Rockaway voters’ base forever. Stop holding those venting worthless meetings where nothing is ever resolved and do what politicians do behind closed doors. Serve the people. Get our bidding done.

JOAN METTLER

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The bridge toll should be

The bridge toll should be disallowed as a matter of law, as binding precedent. However as to Ft. Tilden, Weiner should be negotiating a compromise to lease the premises. The community organizations might agree to maintain the property or perhaps pay a percentage of fees charged for events and activities in exchange for a long term lease. Our community leaders should undertake all efforts to negotiate a long term lease so the future generations may enjoy our natural resources free from harassment.


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