2012-09-14 / Letters

Close Call

The following letter was sent to the officials at Gateway National Recreation Area.

Dear Ms. Canzanelli,

On Wed., August 29, 2012 at approx. 10:15 am, I was walking along the (unnamed) access road off of Bch. 193 St. in Rockaway Beach, NY in Gateway National Park. It’s the road on the left leading to the fisherman’s parking lot that has had no name for years. My granddaughter’s bike had broken down, and we were heading to find our friends or someone from the Dept. of the Interior for assistance. Six year old Annie was on the inside, then me, and then my bike. I stayed to the left so I could see cars coming at us. Around the blind curve came a small black car with two young girls at an excessive speed heading straight for us. The driver was looking at her friend and not the road. Fortunately the passenger side window was opened so when I screamed “watch out,” the driver looked up and swerved, just missing us. I then observed that this road has no name; there are no speed limit signs, no bicycle lane, no blind curve sign, etc.

I called the 100th Precinct, and they referred me to the National Park Police that are located at Floyd Bennett Field. I am writing this letter as the Park Police told me that since no one was hurt, “there was no incident.” I wanted a record so that something would be done to PREVENT AN INCIDENT. I at least want you to know, and the community at large, that this is a dangerous area that has been ignored by Gateway. You can’t even name the road. It is an accident waiting to happen. You can hopefully prevent that by taking immediate action.

I asked the Park Police what would happen if we had been hit by the car and were bleeding in the road. They told me that then they would respond. Since we would probably have needed medical assistance, what would happen next? They said they have EMT’s, but if one wasn’t available (?), they could call an ambulance. I asked about the

NYC Fire Station that is located a few miles from this entrance. They would probably even know what you meant by the “no name street leading to the fisherman’s parking lot off of Bch. 193 St.” They said they could try them next. If you are not involving the NYC Fire Dept. in medical emergencies in the park, I would urge you to do so. I would hope that they have been involved in your planning. They are among the best trained in the nation, and I can’t think of anyone I would rather have by my side in an emergency. I am proud to count many of my Rockaway Beach neighbors among members of both the NYC Fire and Police Departments.

Since I was told by the Park Police to call Gateway National Park Service to request signs in this area, I did so immediately. The number they gave me to call is 718-338-3799. No one answers your phone. You get a recorded message and can leave a message for a return call. It is now over a week later, and I am still waiting for that return call. The message I left said that I wanted to report an incident that happened in the park. It seemed to me that would probably get someone’s attention. Since your office doesn’t return phone calls, I am writing to you today to officially request that this road be named, and that proper signage be put up to hopefully prevent accidents from occurring in the future.

I look forward to your response. By the way, as a local resident, I would give Gateway National Park from the day they took over this area in the 1970’s until today, a Grade of F for their efforts in maintaining and beautifying this particular part of the National Park Service. It does not give the community much confidence in your plans to expand on the current park when we look at the neglect evident in the existing park every day. Maybe you could do a better job with what exists now before trying to expand on an area that has been nothing but a failure. Our nation is not currently in a financial position to waste tax payer’s dollars. If you are indeed partnering with the NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation, perhaps you could get their input into how to make this area safer for children and adults. They have a lot of experience working in an urban setting.

DOROTHY SLOVAK

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