East End Matters...
This is one of those feel good articles we see too little of. Recently some good things have happened in Rockaway that have made me put off my original plans to discuss the Supreme Court health care decision this week.
First – and this was a biggie – there was good news from the budget front. Once again the City Council kept Mayor Bloomberg from going through with his annual threat to close Engine 328 at Far Rockaway’s Big House fire station on Central Avenue. The new $68.5 billion budget also saves the Queens Library from having to cut back on days of operation by keeping all branches open at least 5 days a week. Which means that from Far Rockaway to Arverne to Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Park, area libraries will continue to serve their communities without closing their doors to young and old alike. Sharon Anderson, the head librarian of the Far Rockaway library, said recently that for the first time in a long time she has been given the goahead to buy new books.
Many day care centers and afterschool programs were about to close if the mayor’s proposed budget from earlier this year went through. As has been reported in The Wave, Rockaway is home to several of those programs. They will also now be kept open. Even better news; funding was actually increased for day care and after-school programs.
“Working together, we restored millions of dollars in proposed cuts to day cares and other services for children, saved teaching jobs and provided teachers with new tools to acquire the resources they need to educate our youth, fought off threats to firehouses city-wide, and worked to restore funding to senior centers and libraries facing cutbacks or closure,” said Councilman James Sanders Jr.
Congratulations to all who fought so hard to save these vital institutions.
The most recent piece of news happened Tuesday. The Parks Department gave residents back the park on Seagirt Boulevard. But it is no longer called O’Donohue Park. It is now Rockaway East Park. Want to feel like you are in Central Park without going into Manhattan, come out to Far Rockaway’s newest park. What’s in store for you if you come for a visit? Well, benches under shady trees; a rolling lawn from the stage down on Beach 15 Street to Beach 13 Street where the skateboard park that opened last October is; plenty of places to sit, relax, read a book or have a picnic and a trail or two to walk along (that is if you are not walking on that beautiful lawn); and a play area for children. Ah, did I mention the fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean from the top of the lawn?
On July 6 members of the Rockaway Youth Task Force got together to clean up the block on which the Arverne Library sits on Beach 54 Street. They and other volunteers eventually worked their way to the abandoned stores on the corner on Beach Channel Drive. During their sojourn, motorists honked their horns and slowed down to tell the group what wonderful work they were doing. It was great to see our elected representatives commit to helping our youth. Actually I should say, ‘representative.’ Two committed to take part – Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who does not represent the area where the cleanup took place; and Assemblywoman Michele Titus, who does represent the area. Goldfeder came out and lent a hand. Despite members of the task force asking and getting a commitment from Titus in person, she was a no show to the cleanup. According to the RYTF, she did not even contact them to let them know she would not be there. The assemblywoman must realize how special it is when the young people in our communities step up to the plate and do their part. Since I covered the event, I saw the… I don’t know if it was disappointment or anger or a combination of both …on the faces of RYTF president Milan Taylor and another member as we waited for Titus to show up as the clock ticked past seven for something that hada6p.m.starttime.Assemblywoman, please don’t commit just to pay lip service. And if you meant to come … well, just because you are an elected official doesn’t mean some common courtesy isn’t required. An email sent out early this week by the members of the RYTF had a definite tone of not just disappointment but, yes, anger in it. It seems that this was not the first time that Titus had promised the group to attend one of their events and then did not show up. According to their email, “It is one thing to stand up a group of adults, but standing up our diligent and educated youth, all of whom were looking forward to meeting their State Assembly representative, will NOT be tolerated! RYTF will share our displeasure with our supporters, via various social media networks where we are connected to thousands of Rockaway residents.”
Over the last, almost, two years the RYTF has done some impressive work and has become an important part of the peninsula. Keep up the good work guys.