2013-05-10 / Editorial/Opinion

Gateway National Disgrace Area

Riis Park was named for Jacob Riis - a journalist who shone a bright light on the miserable living conditions of the poor. He’d be aghast now to learn his name was attached to anything so wretched as Riis Park.

Does new Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, have any idea what Riis looks like? We’ve been told $25 million has been set aside to start fixing the place but there’s certainly no sign of urgency. The place is a mess. Hey, Secretary Jewell, Riis needs the money now. (Even if the $25 million won’t go far with the way the government spends money).

Does Gateway Superintendent Linda Canzanelli even care? Riis and Fort Tilden were left to rot under her leadership before Sandy. Now she’s encouraging concessionaires to come in and set up businesses at Riis. Come on, how is anybody supposed to run a business when the place is in such bad shape?

We love this quote from her in the New York Times:

“We’re really good at preserving natural resources and protecting wildlife and historic structures,” she said, “but most people don’t get into the park service because they have a great business sense.” We don’t know which part of that is more laughable.

Have you seen the historic structures a Fort Tilden? She must like graffiti and closed, crumbling buildings.

The poor business sense, she mentions? No argument there.

Not many people who live in Rockaway use the Riis Park or Fort Tilden beaches. But a lot of people jog or ride their bikes through. Thousands more use the parks for volleyball, softball, little league, soccer, kid programs, theater and so on.

On our front page this week we’ve printed a picture that’s a fine example of Gateway’s incompetence. It’s been six months since Sandy uprooted that slab of concrete. Note to Gateway: that isn’t a natural formation.

Gateway couldn’t get their friends from Transco to cart it away? (Transco is the company that leased land from Gateway to run its pipeline under park property – have you seen the huge pipes running down Flatbush Avenue?).

Riis officials are always crying poverty. Where’s the money from Transco going? Not Riis Park or Fort Tilden.

For all the yelling done at the NYC Parks Department they are far more efficient and responsive than Gateway. Far more. There is a new partnership taking hold between NYC Parks and Gateway. We can only hope Gateway gets out of the way and lets Parks take the lead. Yes, we really believe Parks is that much better.

In short, a beautiful, well-run park is critical to a peninsula renaissance. We shouldn’t accept the Gateway National Disgrace Area as our neighbor.

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