2013-01-18 / Editorial/Opinion

Faith And Fate In Parks?

We’re just going by our own eyes here. The NYC Parks Department has done a pretty good job in Rockaway these past few years, especially compared to the hapless Feds who expertly neglect the neglected Fort Tilden and Riis Park. Although to be fair, Gateway does an excellent job demanding parking permits for Wounded Warrior events and throwing roadblocks in front of local groups. Unlike Gateway and its dubious, ever-changing, and impervious to criticism leadership, NYC Parks has a clear chain of command and accessible supervisors. Parks gets credit for allowing the concessions to flourish, for encouraging beach events, and for generally being a Rockaway booster. Of course there are legitimate gripes: Too few garbage cans and pick up are familiar complaints, for example.

Our concern is bigger than trash. We’ve got to ask and ask now: Should Parks be leading the boardwalk rebuild?

Although it may seem like ancient history, Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused considerable damage to the boardwalk. Fourteen months later parts of the boardwalk remained in disrepair. Let’s not forget, the entire summer season of 2012 was marked by stretches of boardwalk encased in chain link fence. One explanation of the tardy repair was because a shipment of wood from Brazil was delayed. Whatever.

In a nutshell, if Parks couldn’t fully repair the boardwalk fourteen months after Hurricane Irene why should we entrust them to do the job this time around?

The boardwalk rebuild – even a temporary fix – is more than a lifestyle factor. The boardwalk has a huge economic impact on the entire peninsula. People come to enjoy the boardwalk as part of the whole beach experience. These people spend money here; some even decide to move here.

Should the Rockaway economy be at the mercy of a department that couldn’t fix the boardwalk fourteen months after Hurricane Irene? If repairs couldn’t be done in fourteen months how long will a rebuild take? And as for the repairs that were completed, it should be noted that there were no additional safeguards added after Hurricane Irene. There has been talk of the boards not being properly fastened and that’s why huge sections floated away during Sandy. Well, why weren’t the boards fortified after Irene? Who answers to that one?

As someone said at the Community Board meeting, what we do now will affect Rockaway for a hundred years. It’s worth asking – now: Is the Parks Department the right agency to determine our fate?

No final design plans or much else has been settled upon for the upcoming season. So with nothing set in concrete (pardon the pun), the boardwalk future might be brighter if Parks follows rather than leads.

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