2013-03-01 / Editorial/Opinion

Hear Us Roar

The Parks Departments has done a lousy job of “listening” (their word). So far, it’s been a lot of “we want to hear from you“ and then in return we get: this is the way it’s going to be. The Arverne-By-The-Sea community roared about the unilateral decision Parks made about the placement of comfort stations. Now Parks is saying they’ll take another look at its placement. So maybe roaring is what we have to do.

They’ve done no listening as far as we can tell, and they’ve done an equally lousy job explaining. At the Community Board meeting in January Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said the boardwalk islands planned for this summer were “short term” plans. Most in the audience took that to mean temporary – as in, we have to get the beaches open this summer so this is the TEMPORARY, best solution we could come up with. NOW, they’re saying the islands are permanent and that any new design will have to accommodate the SHORT TERM solution.

What?! Parks has the gall to say they’re listening and want to hear ideas but permanent decisions have already been made? Of course, they left some wiggle room – it’s called CYA, as in, cover your ass —- by saying well, its “possible, anything’s possible” that a new design for a permanent boardwalk might (might) make them do things differently.

Folks, we’re being played for fools.

Sadly, Parks is not the only culprit. The unseen hands of the EDC (Economic Development Corp) and the DDC (the Department of Design and Construction) are at work as well. They are also allegedly “listening.” Those agencies have more influence than Parks. The EDC is putting together a comprehensive plan for Mayor Bloomberg including boardwalk plans and small business initiatives. The plan is due in May. They say they’re listening, too. What they’re really doing is “placating.” A representative will show up at a meeting and nod with seeming interest. They can say they went to meetings and listened. What a crock.

If these City agencies were really listening they could provide choices for the community to vote on. Remember Eric Ulrich’s participatory budget endeavor? The community got to vote on how discretionary monies should be spent. We were given a list of choices (library computer purchases, volunteer fire department equipment, boardwalk showers, dog runs, etc.) And then we, as individuals got to vote at various polling places. One person one vote. Why aren’t things being run like that now?

Because they know better? Please. If the EDC and Parks continue to act like dictators (and continue to take us for fools) the community should roar again. This administration is on the way out. We can scream them out the door —- and maybe they’ll deserve that. Or they can work with us and make the process fair and inclusive.

If we believe the City was fair we’ll continue to support the plans as the next administration takes over. If the whole thing feels rammed down our throats – we must use those throats to roar.

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