2013-10-25 / Editorial/Opinion

The Devil We Know

Rockaway is unique in lots of ways. One of those ways is the relationship with the New York City Parks Department. Rockaway is essentially in the middle of Parks’ property. Miles of beach belong to the Parks Department. But the bayside is full of Park’s property as well. All sorts of hidden gems are sprinkled along Jamaica Bay and quite a few lots are well inland. There are fishing piers few people know about; there are community gardens people are just finding out about. There’s a new forest thanks to 20,000 trees planted in Edgemere last week. Parks is big.

We’re pretty confident in saying, The Wave pays more attention to Parks than any other newspaper. And we must. It’s a City agency that is as crucial to our future as just about any other. Parks must – soon! – announce a target date for the boardwalk completion. Do they understand the urgency? Will the next group of parkies be any better?

There’s a line The Wave and, we think, the public has to walk, however. We must stay on them to do their jobs because the work they do often has a direct effect on the quality of life here. As far as beach protection their work involves not only quality of life, but life itself.

At the same time, if the voices of Rockaway become too shrill and accusatory there’s a chance Parks will tune us out. There’s no doubt that Parks sometimes has a tin ear; sometimes it has no ears at all. Decisions are made that sometimes drive people crazy. Still, we believe without hesitation that Parks is well-intentioned. And for all the outcry around here, imagine if Parks was like the Department of Buildings or the DDC, the fathers of the lifeguard palaces, or the DOT or a lot of other City black holes? Hey, you can talk to Parks. They’re real people.

The thing is, with a new administration coming in, there’s no telling how Rockaway will be treated. We need a responsive Parks Department that will bring resources here. But there’s no promise of that. In past administrations, Central Park, itself, fell on hard times. Rockaway has a tad less clout. Hear much from the mayoral candidates about our beaches and boardwalk? We haven’t.

Last year, the FEDS – the National Park Service (Gateway) and New York City (NYC Parks again) agreed to partner in an effort to manage 10,000 acres of Jamaica Bay. The Feds wouldn’t have agreed to this partnership unless they were ready to cede control. That simply means, the City Parks Department will be more important to Rockaway than ever.

Mayor Bloomberg has been a friend to the Parks system. It doesn’t hurt that his deep pocket buddies are looking to help Jamaica Bay and by extension, Rockaway.

We can demand change, but sometimes the devil you know . . .

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