East End Matters...
Before I get to the upcoming Senate primary, there is something else I would like to address. For a short time Culinary Kids had an urban farm at the corner of Beach 30 Street and Seagirt Boulevard. There they did some good things. They did workshops with local youngsters. Through their Summer Youth Corps they taught the young people of this area about agriculture and aquaculture and they donated to local food pantries. They have moved from that site to Beach 59 Street and unfortunately left the old site in need of a dire cleanup.
Something needs to be done to change this. The former garden does not have to look like people perceive the east end to be. How about Culinary Kids gathering a group together to clean the lot? If they need some help there’s always organizations like the Rockaway Youth Task Force or others who I am sure would pitch in. The garden next to it also seems to have been deserted. That lot’s owners need to step up as well. After the cleanup comes another suggestion. And for full disclosure, I have to say that the idea comes from The Wave’s editor Howard Schwach. The former Culinary Kids lot should be dedicated to the memory of Scott Gadell, a police officer who was killed on that very spot doing his job. Schwach had suggested it to the Culinary Kids but was turned down. Now is the time for it to happen. Why? Because Gadell gave the ultimate in protecting this community – his life. And because it is the right thing to do.
On Thursday, September 13 the Democratic primary will be held to decide who will represent the 10th State Senate District in Rockaway. That area encompasses a good portion of the east end. While it is a primary, whoever wins will move on to Albany in January. First, for full disclosure, the chief of staff for Councilman James Sanders Jr., one of the candidates, recently helped my family with a problem a child had in regard to school busing. I say this to everyone; no matter who you are and what your problem you always have the option to turn to your elected representative for help.
That said, in addition to Sanders the candidates are the incumbent Senator Shirley Huntley and area resident and former president of the 101 Precinct Community Council Gian Jones. The seat came up for grabs when, in re-districting, Rockaway was split in two. Senator Malcolm Smith, who was the representative for all of Rockaway, was replaced with Senators Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Huntley (who got most of the east end).
Until now the closest to Rockaway for Huntley has been representing Broad Channel. She also represents several other areas in Queens. But she has no experience in Rockaway. Sanders and Jones come from Rockaway. Of course, everyone needs to make her or his own decision. But, Rockaway needs someone with experience here, who knows the area and the people and has delivered in the past. For almost 10 years Sanders has done just that representing the east end. What has he done?
To start he was the only one who was able to develop a working relationship with Rita Stark, the owner of the Far Rockaway Shopping Center. Because of that, revitalization – although slow – is finally coming to the most important part of the downtown Far Rockaway shopping district. Sanders helped bring the Doe Fund, which keeps the business district clean, to the area; allocated nearly $2 million for cameras in NYCHA developments and installation has already begun at Hammel Houses; fought to save day cares, after-school programs and Engine 328 in Far Rockaway’s Big House fire station from Mayor Bloomberg’s yearly threats of cuts; has presented yearly allocations to local schools so that they remain on the cutting edge of science and technology; authored the toughest anti-predatory lending law in the country to protect homeowners; worked to pass a law that enhances the ability of minority- and women-owned business to compete for city contracts; has sponsored many family outings such as movie nights in the park and family days.
Sanders is currently working with those opposed to the hotel being built on Beach 44 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. His candor at a recent rally was also refreshing. While he said there may be no way to stop the hotel, he is working to get a sit-down with the landowner and area residents. He is also working to get an explanation from Housing & Preservation why a lot that was to be part of the Edgemere Urban Renewal area on the building site was not bought by the city, as it should have been. Instead of promising residents he would stop the hotel he was honest with them and told them there may not be anything that can be done to stop it. If they didn’t like what they heard, he said they could vote for someone else.
Not in Sanders’ favor is that he was one of those in the City Council who supported Bloomberg’s quest for a third term. Also, that muchtalked about trade school that he proposed a number of years back never came to be.
But, Sanders has, more often than not, delivered during his time in the City Council. Huntley, as I have said in previous columns, is new to Rockaway. It’s one thing to come to a rally against the proposed hotel and say she will do whatever she can to help residents. But besides writing a letter, she had no specifics on what she would do.
There is also the problem of the indictment against Huntley concerning an organization she founded shortly after being elected. As reported in last week’s Wave she is charged with falsifying records, conspiracy and tampering with evidence. According to the New York Times, as a result of the indictment Huntley lost her leadership positions on various
Senate committees. If she is convicted she will be automatically expelled from the Senate. The question is where will she be spending most of her time – in the Senate or in court defending herself?
As for Jones, he has no experience in politics and experience is what Rockaway now needs. One of his solutions for bringing jobs to the Rockaways is interesting, but it seems that not a lot of thought was put into it. He suggests developing a local museum: “focused on Rockaway’s history would be educational and produce local jobs.” The Rockaway Museum has been in existence for a number of years. It had exhibits on view in various venues before it moved to The Wave building in 1996 where it hosted numerous exhibitions. In approximately 2006 the newspaper could no longer sustain keeping it in the building. Thus the museum is still kept going, but despite boxes of historic memorabilia it is still an entity looking for a home. As for jobs, keeping one parttime person to lead tours at the museum eventually became difficult.
Of course, it is up to you to decide who will go to Albany in January. Remember to come out and vote next Thursday and make your voice heard. For this column the choice is clear, endorsing City Councilman James Sanders Jr. to represent the east end of Rockaway in the State Senate.