2012-09-14 / Editorial/Opinion

Dumping On Rockaway Park

The city continues to dump on a community that, like many others on the peninsula, is attempting to come back from decline. How else can one explain placing two facilities serving at risk teenagers within four blocks of each other, in the center of a growing residential community. We understand that the Martin de Porres School that now resides in the former Stella Maris High School building is a traditional school dedicated to serving a teenage special education population, and one cannot help but admire its goals. We hate to be a NIMBY, but hasn’t that community been impacted sufficiently, what with the St. John’s Residence for Boys, a facility serving and housing at-risk teenage boys a few blocks away and with all the SROs clustered around Beach 116 Street; not to mention the adult homes in the area? Rockaway’s history with St. John’s has been problematic, despite the attempt of its local governing board to make it seem that it’s just another school. Its residents have a history of criminality, including assaults and robberies, arson and even a vicious attack on a priest traveling to St. Francis de Sales Church. Now, the city’s juvenile justice agency is moving in a dozen real criminals, teens who are awaiting trial for violent crimes and need to be kept away from their home communities. The city calls it unsecure detention because the teens will not be restricted to the facility except for a nighttime curfew. Last year, one of the teens at a similar central Queens facility viciously beat a staff member who was attempting to drive him to court. We don’t need more violent criminals in Rockaway and for the city to drop them in the middle of the peninsula with no notice or consultation tells you one more time what Mayor Bloomberg and his administration think of Rockaway.

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