2013-03-08 / Columnists

IDEAS WANTED Rockaway

By Rick Horan

Shortly after last week’s column on “The Stupidest, Time Wasting Intersections in Rockaway” hit the streets I received a spirited email from a concerned reader convinced that I had a screw loose. Otherwise, how could I propose removing the traffic lights outside of Scholars’ and BCHS? Unbeknownst to me, the last part of my column never made the cut, so I will finish it here…

Observations:

Every day these two intersections are responsible for wasting 240 hours of our collective lives, that’s over 87,000 hours a year!

When school is closed, these traffic lights cause more accidents than they prevent.

Recommendations:

When school isn’t in session, both lights should be perpetually green on Beach Channel Drive with a blinking yellow on 104th.

Timed lights should be used only when needed.

We should demand that the City begin installing Intelligent Traffic Control Devices (aka smart lights) here and throughout NYC. Call/write: DOT Queens Commissioner, Maura McCarthy, mmccarthy@ dot.nyc.gov, 718-286-0886, Danny Ruscilo, CB14 Transportation Chair: fxpro@aol.com.

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Your ideas column is getting some great ideas! I love the notion of a design competition, and hope that with the publicity that MOMA is bringing, it can get more traction and support. While many of us would be happy to have our old boardwalk back just like it was, if reality demands something different, then it should then be something beautiful, useful, and really unusual. The High Line is a great example of what a shared public space can be, and we need to make sure that our shared public space gets as much attention and thought as that project did.

But no matter what we wind up building, we will still be faced with having to manage the beach and boardwalk, and keep it clean and beautiful. Having attended many community meetings related to the beach and parks over the past few years, I always find myself cringing on behalf of poor Jill Weber, who gets raked over the coals every time for things like the relative lack of garbage pickup, or slow progress on repairs, or things completely out of her control like locals getting tickets for open containers. It seems to me that, given her limited budget and staff at her disposal, she has managed our beach and boardwalk beautifully over the past few seasons. Yet invariably, criticisms of the Parks Department’s performance here are compared to the gem in the Parks system, Central Park. And they are right, Central Park much more well-tended than our boardwalk. But the fact is that there was a point in the 1970s when Central Park seemed even more hopeless than our beach does now—it was a mess, ridden with crime, and people were afraid to even go there. And at that point, private fundraisers stepped in and formed the Central Park Conservancy, which now funds most of the park’s upkeep. www.centralparknyc.org/about/

We here in Rockaway talk a good game about how much we love our boardwalk; why not step up and start funding it ourselves? Sure, we still need public funds from the city, since it is a public park that the entire city is welcome to use (and we need those DFDs to use it, to boost our local economy). But if we were to start a non-profit, private organization to supplement the city’s efforts, we could have more money to spend and more say in how those funds are spent. Events and fundraising campaigns could target big money donors from around the city, but I also think a lot of less affluent locals would be willing to contribute as “sustaining members,” the way they might support PBS or their local church. We could also work with local (and not-so-local) businesses to sponsor things like additional garbage cans, or clean up on specific stretches of boardwalk the way they do on highways. Further, it would allow a centralized way to organize volunteer efforts through schools and neighborhood organizations to do beach cleanups, beautification, and so on.

I think it’s time for us to put our money where our mouths are when it comes to our boardwalk.

Ann Kirby-Payne

Rick: Great minds think alike. The Rockaway Beach Conservancy has been organized and is now in the process of putting together its Advisory Board. You and like-minded people in Rockaway are encouraged to get involved. RickHoran@IdeasImprov.com

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