2013-05-24 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Help Tornado Victims; Boardwalk Protection Needed Now
by Miriam Rosenberg

Mother Nature has done it again. Oklahoma has been hit by an almost unprecedented tornado that has ravaged the community of Moore. As happened after Sandy, when people we didn’t even know from all across the country came to our aid, it is time for us to do the same. You can donate to the Red Cross or go online to find how you can help.

Several local organizations have started their own drives. Rockaway’s Weekly Free Flea Market, originally set up to help after Sandy, will accept donations from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily. It is located at 112-22 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. For more information email rockawayfreefleamarket@gmail.com or go to Rockaway’s Weekly Free Flea Market Facebook page. The local Knights of Columbus is accepting monetary donations that will be sent to the Knights of Columbus at St. Andrew Parish in Moore, Oklahoma. To contribute go to knightsofrockaway.com and click on donate now on the site’s homepage. They will be collecting donations into next week. You can call 718- 634-3699 or email Council2672@aol.com for more information.

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I have been thinking about the topic for this column since I handed in my last column weeks two ago. For weeks there have been stories about the reopening of new boardwalks that are replacing those ravaged by Sandy. Not islands. Not parts of boardwalks, boardwalks. The boardwalks on the Jersey shoreline are opening and the majority will be completed and ready for Memorial Day. The boardwalk at Rye Playland in Westchester has re-opened ahead of schedule. Construction on the boardwalk in Long Beach has begun and stretches of it should be finished by June. Each time I hear about another Sandy devastated boardwalk being rebuilt and re-opened I keep saying to myself – ‘but not Rockaway’s.’

OK, there are those who will say that there is a process to be followed – putting out the call for bids, choosing the contractors and getting the work done. Other municipalities must have the same or similar ways of doing things. How did New Jersey get it done when New York City couldn’t? Well, Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie made a promise that the boardwalks in his state that were destroyed by Sandy would be rebuilt and ready for Memorial Day. Mayor Bloomberg and the Parks Department didn’t have the same sense of urgency. Yet recently first Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh called Rockaway “our one true oceanfront beach.”

Besides commerce, there’s another reason that our boardwalks need to be rebuilt ASAP. Hurricane season is just around the corner and the boardwalks acted as protection from the ocean. I recently attended an event at the Ocean Promenade Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Beach 113th Street. As I stepped outside to the beach it was peaceful, beautiful and I realized dangerous. The boardwalk is no longer between the building and the ocean. If there were another big storm, the two big windows facing the Atlantic would surely fall victim to the surge of water. People may be evacuated, but would they be able to return after the damage the building would sustain?

On May 19th, the Friends of Rockaway Beach held a rally to demand that Rockaway’s boardwalks be rebuilt now. When I heard about the planned rally I knew it would fit in with what I was planning to write. And I was right.

I learned that the Parks Department wants to use Trap Bags to hold back the might of the ocean’s surge. The community wants more sturdy HESCO barriers, but that idea is not going over well.

John Cori of the Friends of Rockaway Beach said he believes that it is Parks who doesn’t want the HESCO barriers “because of metal in the frame work.” He added, “Just remember that it is Parks saying that DEC [Department of Conservation] won’t approve, yet they are installing metal up in Neponsit.”

The city needs to do a better job of doing what is right for those who live here. The last thing we needed were Stars Wars looking restrooms at $2 million a pop. This is money that could have been spent on rebuilding our boardwalk and protecting our residents. God forbid we have another hurricane before the boardwalk is rebuilt.

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