2013-08-09 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Weiner: Imperfect Messenger; Lifeguard shacks: Imperfect Review
by Miriam Rosenberg

Say what you will about Anthony Weiner’s campaign for mayor, one thing is clear: his run is putting Rockaway and its problems, before and after Sandy, into the campaign spotlight. Weiner showed his knowledge of the beach problems on the peninsula when he attended the Friends of Rockaway Beach candidate forum last week. Of all those running for mayor, Weiner is the only one with any real understanding of Rockaway’s coastal problems.

Grace Rauh of New York 1 showed the ignorance some have of the problems of Rockaway when she tweeted the following during the forum: “First question for Weiner: dunes, rock jetties, flood insurance - and homeless shelters. Whew! Would you fight to tackle those obstacles?”

Like Weiner said, he may be the imperfect messenger, but he is the messenger we need in this mayoral race to keep Rockaway on the front burner. Whether he can win with all his baggage is debatable, but last week I was reminded why he would be the best person to become our next mayor. If not, at least, for now, Rockaway is front and center in this important mayoral contest. ********************************

We’ve heard the life guard and rest room stations that the Parks Department has installed along Rockaway’s boardwalk called many things – something out of “Star Wars,” pencil sharpeners, trailers or just plain eyesores. Have you or anyone you know called them dynamic? Do you think they have any qualities of Greek temples in Sicily? How about an irresistible visual element?

Well, then I guess those of us living here in Rockaway are just not looking hard enough. According to an August 4th article in the Wall Street Journal entitled ‘More Resilient in the Rockaways – A Sleek New Infrastructure After Sandy Destruction’ that is what the architect was going for. I’d para- phrase, but I’ll let you read it as it was written by reporter Anthony Paletta.

“Faced with the requirement of elevating these structures at a considerable height to avoid possible flood levels, Garrison Architects embraced not the stolidity of height, but its possible dynamism.

“These curved steel-frame structures elevated on pillars possess a mod aesthetic and a kinetic energy. James Garrison, their principal architect, cited the ‘“anamorphic’” qualities of Greek temples in Sicily as an inspiration. “‘I wanted them to hover above the sand, to be in action, to look as if they are moving to the ocean.’”

Paletta goes on to say, “These structures look for all the world like the Scandinavian star fleet's first mission ended up not at Mars, but on our shores, boasting an elegantly curved steel frame and corrugated stainless steel shell and wood-like side panels crafted out of Taktl, an “ultrahigh performance concrete.” They offer not only uninterrupted views of the ocean beneath, through the support pillars, but also a view of the ocean from a large window within – in sharp contrast to the usual bunker-like experience of beach restrooms. Typically housed in buildings about as routine as their function, here restrooms have become an irresistible visual element.”

Well, they have an unavoidable visual element that has been a bone of contention between the Parks Department and locals since before they were installed. Nobody from here was interviewed by Paletta, only the architects and the Commissioner of Parks, Veronica White. But I have this feeling that most Rockawayites’ descriptions of the rest rooms/life guard shacks would not would be complimentary. Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Nah, in this case I don’t think so.

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