IDEAS WANTED Rockaway
Last week’s column floated the idea that Rockaway should secede from New York City. I cited many things that the City has done to hurt the peninsula since we have been under its umbrella for the last 115 years.
It’s obvious that city politics and gerrymandering have split our peninsula in two: the haves and the have-nots, the blacks and the whites, the eastenders and west-enders. Unfortunately, the City is incapable of solving the same problems it is responsible for creating. These are the big issues that have a profound impact on our community’s ability to achieve our true potential. The evidence is compelling, being a remote appendage on an outer borough has worked against us. Rockaway’s best hope is as an autonomous city.
There are also annoying daily reminders of how NYC is not Rockaway’s friend. This is especially true during the summer when we are forced to live with the stupid regulations made for us by people who don’t even know where Rockaway is.
For example: this past Wednesday morning (about 9 a.m.) I was launching my rowing shell off Beach 127th Street when I was politely told by Parks Department enforcement folks that I was not allowed to put my boat in the water, ever! Apparently the same holds true for kayaks, paddle boards, boogie boards and all other “unauthorized watercraft.”
Instead of being the man of principle I wish I was, I dropped a name so I could be on my way with minimum disruption to my short time to enjoy the water. If I had a pair (and more time) I should have forced them to drag me off the beach in handcuffs and fight the ticket all the way to the Supreme Court. Or at least that’s what I was fantasizing about as I was trying to enjoy the fresh air as my scull glided west.
But I couldn’t lose myself in the moment because I had to witness the parkies stopping other would be criminals wanting to kayak, swim (lifeguards don’t show up till 10) or take their dog for a romp through the surf. It was heartbreaking.
Rockaway is almost surrounded by water, yet we are drowning in regulations. Want to enjoy a cigarette on the beach? Sorry, that’s not allowed. Drink a cold beer on a hot afternoon? That will earn you a fine. Help your kids strap on a pair of fins for some boogie boarding? The current regulations can cite you for both. Want to swim in the early morning or after work? You’d better be ready to dodge the cops. BTW...riding a bike on (what’s left of) our boardwalk on summer weekends is also against the law. Is this the sort of lives we want for ourselves and our children?
Do these laws increase our quality of life or detract from it? Do they make us respect laws or loathe them? My idea is that we get rid of them and start allowing law enforcement to use their good judgment.
Let’s start taking responsibility for our own lives and stop blaming each other and the government for everything that goes wrong. Swimming and boating (and boogie boarding) should be at your own risk. Lifeguards provide a safe environment for swimmers, but if someone wants to use the water at an unprotected beach, that’s their right. We cannot and should not be responsible for everyone in the water.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the “City of Rockaway.” Aren’t we in a better position to make regulations that affect Rockaway than NYC bureaucrats who don’t live here? People here might be more motivated to get involved if they weren’t “fighting city hall.”
The "Greater City,” which added areas like Rockaway to NYC over a century ago, exists as a result of actions of the New York State Legislature. As such, it could be reduced in size by the same mechanism. Rockaway as an independent city is an idea that is looking better all the time, especially during the summer.
So what’s your idea? RickHoran@ IdeasImprov.com