Decades of Darkness

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Dear Editor:

Thank you for shining a light on just how far Riis Park — and all of Gateway — has fallen.

It’s an ongoing, never-ending disgrace.

I remember the 1970s when Riis Park was a City park. The ball fields were heavily used by Rockaway Little League, St. Francis de Sales, Rockaway Rugby and the local softball league. On summer weekends, the parking lot would be jammed with visitors from Brooklyn. Since the City was going bankrupt, we were assured that the creation of Gateway National Recreation Area would be a great thing. The benefits were short-lived. By the late 1980s, the Feds had stopped maintaining Gateway. The fields became dangerous. Most were eventually razed.

In the decades since, –even during economic boom times– our elected officials were unable or unwilling to get Gateway the funding that befits a National Park that has 8,000,000 people in its backyard. Local management seemed uninterested in pursuing innovative programs that would enhance recreation. Yes, there are some very nice small programs for kayaking, camping and nature hikes but in our urban setting, recreation should mean so much more. Even without creative programs, there is no excuse for allowing the infrastructure to crumble.

One has to wonder if Congressman Meeks and Senator Schumer have any idea that Riis Park has become a national eyesore on their watch.

Paul King


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