2013-05-17 / Columnists

Simon says...

Commentary From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B


Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon This week we again attended a lot of meetings and events and had a phone interview on WNYC radio. We were glad to see that the federal help of $1.77 billion in the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program is finally coming through to NYC. When we break down the funds, we find that the money will not be enough to accomplish what is needed most. People who lost their homes completely or had 50 percent or more damage will often need more than $250,000 to rebuild. We do not believe that the $308 million for NYC Houses Rehabilitation and Reconstruction is sufficient.

Most of the business districts in Rockaway, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach suffered heavy damage. Our businesses need grants rather than loans. We do not trust that Mayor Bloomberg and his commissioners understand our problems. There have been constant mistakes and blundering. They have made the paperwork long and tedious. They lose files. We are concerned that seven months after hurricane Sandy, people are still struggling to get back into their homes. We are going to stay on top of this situation and speak out whenever we have to.

On Wednesday evening, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski made a presentation to the Community Board 14 Parks Committee. I was disappointed to see only 35 or 40 local residents for such an important meeting. An important part of the meeting was a presentation by Walter Meyer, an urban planner, who proposed a double dune system as a pilot program from Beach 87th Street to Beach 97th Street. The primary dune would be made of sand with the roots of grasses holding the sand. A secondary dune would have trees and their roots holding it in place. A walkway of hardened sand could be used between the dunes.

Commissioner Lewandowski presented her plan for baffle walls four feet high, only one foot higher than the walls that failed. From Beach 126 to Beach 149 Street we need baffle walls six to eight feet tall while in the areas up to Beach 126th Street, a seawall with a height of 10 to 15 feet should be built. We have spoken up at meetings, but the city throws our feedback in the garbage.

Congratulations to Joe Hartigan who seemed to make progress in getting Hesco barriers as a pilot project. Eddie Pastore also let the community know that we need protection, protection, protection. Why can’t the Parks Department and other agencies get their act together? A routine heavy rain this week flooded Shore Front Parkway, Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Newport Avenue and Cronston Avenue. DEP must clear sand which is blocking catch basins and sewers. DEP and FDNY must immediately check fire hydrants which may have been disabled by Sandy.

We can’t believe that Mayor Bloomberg is once again proposing to close libraries and fire companies. Libraries are safe havens for children after school, warming centers in winter and cooling centers in summer. Libraries provide help to job seekers in writing resumes and computers and internet access to send them out. We recently worked with Mona Essman and the Rockaway Beach Friends of the Library to get a temporary trailer set up so that GED, ESOL, ESL, resume writing, citizenship preparation and many other great programs could resume. We need our libraries seven days a week. Having faced fire and flood, we know that we need all our firefighters on the job. The City Council must find a way to get these cuts restored.

The Seaside Senior Center lost its home on Beach 90th Street and then at St. John’s Home. We must not allow our seniors to be neglected.

We are glad that Tribute Park on Beach 116th Street has reopened, but we are not happy to see that the lights are off. Many people go there to relax, reflect on the loss of their loved ones on 9/11 or just to enjoy the view and cool breezes from the bay.

We again invite you to join the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. Dues are only $25 a year and you will get a chance to work with us rebuilding our community. We meet every Thursday evening at the Ocean Promenade Rehab, 140 Beach 113th Street. If you want to register to vote, have a community problem or want to offer your help in rebuilding our club and community call 718-945-1216.

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