Storm Protection Needed
Last Friday I was invited by Congressman Meeks, as a representative of Rockaway Women for Progress, to participate in an unprecedented event regarding storm protection in Rockaway. With so many different needs from east to west and bay to ocean, it seems our disparate requests, demands, and wishes have made for a perfect environment of confusion and, perhaps, delay.
We, as a peninsula, have both completely different storm protection needs every few blocks, as well as many groups from which aid comes. There is the Army Corps of Engineers, the state, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the city via the Parks Department. All of these agencies attempt to work in concert and have their studies and budgets complement one another, but it seems the bureaucracy is paralyzing.
Last Friday, Meeks did what has never been done. He gathered about 20 groups, governmental and residential, and put us on a five-hour bus tour of Rockaway. Our itinerary went from Beach 9th to Broad Channel to Roxbury and many stops in between. At each stop, local invested and knowledgeable residents explained their issues around flooding, erosion, and events the night of Sandy. Also, at each stop, the engineers and representatives from the different agencies explained what has been done, what will be done, and what probably won't be done anytime soon. It helped all of us to better understand the "why" behind some things, and it helped to form some serious questions.
The most pressing questions are around the said $120 million currently available to the Parks Department. It was told to us that this money is earmarked for "various" projects, including but not limited to playgrounds along Shore Front Parkway and a new Parks Department headquarters, priced at $30 million. While both are important to Rockaway, neither seems to serve the storm protection needs of the residents. I pressed the First Deputy Commissioner of Parks, Liam Kavanaugh, on this and hope the Rockaway community does the same. There's time to fight for future funding of projects. However, this funding is ready to go, so let's discuss the best use of the money as a community.
The most important take away from this day was that each area of Rockaway has to truly understand and care about the specific storm protection and flooding needs each has. Breezy has to care about Arverne, Belle Harbor needs to care about Roxbury, Rockaway Park needs to care about Far Rockaway, etc.
Going forward, Congressman Meeks intends to gather us all for a de-briefing. Hopefully, the many areas of Rockaway will be able to form a concise, clear list of needs so that all of the agencies see that there is less confusion and chaos in our own understanding, as a peninsula, of the hard work that needs to be done. It was an inspiring, frustrating, educational, and hopeful day. Thank you, Congressman Meeks, for this authentic opportunity.
In a few weeks, it will be the 5th anniversary of Sandy. Rockaway has come so far, but we all know how much work needs to still be done. The Rockaway Storm Protection group will be hosting a rally on the beach at 2 p.m. on October 28. St. Francis de Sales has kindly offered their parking lot for the event. Not that any of us need it, but the recent hurricanes should serve as a harsh reminder that living by the ocean can be precarious. Please come out and demand better storm protection for our beloved Rockaway. We cannot be forgotten.
More Than an Eyesore
On September 28, 2017, CBS news reported from the abandoned building, (formerly Chai Assisted Living), located at 125-02 Ocean Promenade, concerning the declining health of a local resident, whose health condition has been further compromised due to the unsanitary and hazardous conditions of the abandoned building.
A search of the New York City Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS), www.nyc.gov/acris, (for search purposes the block is 16235 and the lot is 0039), reveals the present owner to be Chai Bonim, LLC. The identity of the owner(s) behind the limited liability corporation is unclear as the property has changed hands quite frequently over the past few years. The trustee is listed as Abraham J. Backenroth.
A search on the New York City Department of Buildings website, www.nyc.gov/buildings, reveals a long list of open hazardous violations. The New York City Fire Department has marked the abandoned building with a “boxed x” as a warning to first responders that the building is unsafe.
The New York City Police Department has frequently responded to the abandoned building due to quality of life complaints, including trespassers, graffiti and public urination.
A search on the New York City Lobby website, www.nyc.gov/lobbyistsearch, reveals the owner Chai Bonim, LLC, has spent $61,516.50, since 6/22/15 to present, targeting City Planning Commission (CPC), Department of City Planning (DCP), Borough President-Queens, Community Boards, and New York City Council Members. Lobbyists are hired to persuade someone in authority, usually an elected member of a government, to support laws or rules that give their client an advantage.
The community has held a rally. Elected officials were present, demanding that the owner be held accountable for the hazardous conditions that are a blight upon the neighborhood. The local newspapers have reported on the hazardous conditions, even publishing photos of the “eyesore” building. Complaints have been filed with the New York City Department of Buildings. Neighbors have shared information concerning the dangerous conditions on social media.
The health and safety of the local community and first responders is at risk due to the dangerous and hazardous conditions of the abandoned building located at 125-02 Ocean Promenade owned by Chai Bonim, LLC.
Erin M. O’Grady
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