2013-05-24 / Letters

National Parks Anti-Community

Dear Editor:

There were letters in last week's Wave from Ronald Crozier and Robert Koster dealing with the National Park Service and Riis Park and Fort Tilden. I couldn't agree with them more having had direct association with NPS [National Park Service] from my years with the Rockaway Music and Arts Council. I have said for many years that NPS does not want anyone in either Ft. Tilden or Riis Park, especially from the community, no matter how much they say they want community input.

RMAC was the original group in the park about 30 years ago when we had a one-day Fall Festival on the Parade Grounds at Ft. Tilden. Our first festival drew about 2,000 people but after that the festival grew by leaps and bounds and the management at Ft. Tilden decided they didn't want the grass messed up, they moved us to Riis Park. By this time we had a 2-day festival and were drawing thousands of people to the park, (by their own estimation approximately 20,000). Most of the festival was actually on city land so the park had to find something else to complain about. They started with a small payment each year for so-called clean-up after the festival was over. There was nothing much for them to clean up except the garbage cans because Barbara Eisenstadt and I walked the grounds picking up napkins, etc. that people dropped and put the trash in the cans. Then they wanted us to pay small amounts each year, again to cover their costs. In fact, one year they even wanted us to provide toilet paper for the men's and ladies rooms. The last straw was when they asked for between $10,000 and $14,000 for the use of "our" park. And so, our Festival is no more.

Then there were the Sunset Picnic Concerts in Ft. Tilden. Senator Schumer, at that time our congressman, appropriated approximately $80,000 from Congress so we could have a Wenger Wagon (stage) here in Rockaway and not have to drag one from somewhere in Queens. NPS stored the wagon at the end of each summer and eventually the mechanism was not working properly and they couldn't bring it over from Floyd Bennett where it was stored. Once again we were moved to the Riis Bathhouse but that was not the proper venue for a picnic concert and we eventually cancelled them as well.

The National Park Service can say anything they want to justify their actions to our organization and to our community but I think the bottom line is that eventually they want everyone out of these two parks so they don't have to supervise or improve them and have everything in Brooklyn. They always speak about working with the community but I can't see where.


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