2011-08-26 / Columnists

Boyle-ing Points

Gateway Means Decay
Commentary by Kevin Boyle

As summer fades away it’s time to say see ya next year to the hipsters who discovered Rockaway and Fort Tilden. Because of them, we’re on Google maps.

Yeah, it pains me to be so ironic but as a local comic said, “They think they discovered Rockaway. Like they came here on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Fedora.”

Of course, hipsters may find another cool location and never look back. Or, who knows, maybe they’ll be chased away. On some weekends, Fort Tilden was as busy as any beach in Rockaway. Young people from Brooklyn and Manhattan came by ferry, bus, or bicycle. The word was out. Fort Tilden was one of the nicest beaches anywhere. Anywhere.

Ah, but let’s see what happens now. If Gateway National is good at anything it’s raining on a parade. They’ll ban festivals; charge excessive fees, close buildings or let them rot. They’ll wave a piping plover at anyone or anything that’s seen as a threat. Of course, they’d disagree. They’ll say we really want to work with you but … there’s costs and regulations and birds and people with different interests and well, we really don’t want to work with you. We’d rather do nothing. You want a permit for Fort Tilden? Oh, we closed the visitor center and moved it to Riis. Oh, we closed that, too. Go pay a toll and go to Floyd Bennett Field. Before you do that, though, you’ve gotta get permission from the piping plovers or the new acting deputy superintendent. But he can’t say yes until he’s made deputy not just acting or interim.

But he or she is nice so it should work.

Yeah, right. (Someone told me the poor rangers and seasonal help are trained to shrug.) Occasionally, the Park Service acts like it’s a vibrant entity – but that’s just to shut us up. They make grand announcements about “The Path Forward” – and how a blue ribbon panel with Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner would convene to address the future of the park. Well, who knew just how blue that panel was going to be?

In June, around the same time Weiner was busy showing off his blue ribbon, the panel released its report. They called for all sorts of improvements and partnerships between the Feds and the City and they said it should start to happen in 2016. Bad enough they were kicking it down the road five years. But the 40-page report mentions Fort Tilden all of three times. Here’s the money shot: Focus initially on improvements to Floyd Bennett Field, but be capable of expansion to Riis Beach (and), Fort Tilden.

Hey, take five years and then think about extending improvements to Fort Tilden and Riis Park. Nice. So we’ll be stuck with a decaying park and bay wall for how many more years? Gateway should really take over the sewer plant on Beach 108 because they’re so full of crap as it is. Oh, and they should let Chuck Schumer be the honorary flush captain.

I’m telling you, they’ve got this down to a science. Nothing gets done and you can’t get any answers – in part because Gateway changes leadership every couple of weeks. Just as someone might actually have to do something they get shipped out or retire and a new person comes in who has to learn the ropes and understand and get to know the community, blah, blah, blah.

And then we get to hear about funding. There’s not enough of it. I don’t know how many multi-multi millions was spent on the bath house at Riis but apparently it wasn’t enough. It’s still a cluttered building with no real purpose. What would be enough funding? I know of a couple of other things money was spent on but that’s for another column or a Pulitzer Prize-winning series.

Hmmm, just thought of something. Maybe Fort Tilden and Riis can get some extra money by starring in the cable TV show “Life After People” which depicts what will happen if the human race suddenly disappeared from the face of the planet. The show uses computer generated imagery to show familiar cityscapes and iconic buildings overrun by Mother Nature. No such gimmicks will be needed if they film at Fort Tilden.

Hey, at least “Life After People” is a better idea than an impound lot at Riis Park which Gateway tried to do when no one was looking. But I digress.Anyway, it’s been eleven months since I sent pictures to Linda Canzanelli (Gateway’s superintendant) and Ken Salazar (US Secretary of the Interior) and asked if they were aware of the decrepit state of the bay wall or of the general dilapidation of Riis Park. I let them know that string has replaced railings on one end of Riis. Yeah, string. And on the other end of Riis? Instead of string, they’ve put green cracked graffiti littered concrete barriers. Isn’t somebody embarrassed? Of course, I’m still waiting for a response. Which makes me a fool, I guess.

This just in: Gateway will disregard the blue ribbon findings because they want input from Bob Turner or David Weprin. And those two will offer input as soon as they stop arguing about who is more pro-Israel.

Boyle-ing Points: You don’t want to have an emergency and have the Marine Park Bridge going up do you? Rockaway needs PHC. And while Peninsula’s life is at stake – and getting to St. John’s might be the only option for some – it’s time to fix the roads. NOW. Driving east from Beach 92 along Beach Channel Drive is a broken axel waiting to happen.


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