Happy Valentine’s Day to my friends, neighbors and family! These days, non-committed relationships are all the rage, and the terminology we use in our social interactions seems to be focused on mutual fulfillment, supporting one another, and every euphemism in the book as an alternative to saying the word, “love.” For those who are happily hitched to one another, I wish you continued success in that balancing act, which can seem unfashionable in light of pop culture trends.
Today, I’m searching for something I can publicly declare my passion about. As a 17-year resident of Rockaway, one of the places on the peninsula that has been central to my family and cultural life is the land within the boundaries of Gateway National Recreation Area, including Floyd Bennett Field, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Riis Park, and Fort Tilden!
From campfire sing-alongs to pony rides at the RMAC Fall Festivals…from “My Fair Lady” at RTC to years of Little League games and school picnics…
Halloween fright fests at RAA, and even hayrides (in the early years)…
The open spaces and rustic buildings being re-purposed by hard-working community volunteers lend a magic to Gateway’s environs that I find hard to resist.
I’m urging everyone on the peninsula to think about what Gateway means to you and your family. Many of you may have already received emails from various civic groups that are encouraging public comments on the proposed Gateway General Management Plan. Here is the link: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=36924; please take a few moments to visit that page and record your comments. If you have friends and neighbors who don’t use a computer but would like to comment, print out the information for them, and they can write a letter.
The future community use of Gateway’s lands and buildings is at stake. It’s our neighborhood park and our donations and support have made it a community cultural and recreational center of great importance. Please get involved! Send a comment to “Oy Vey Rockaway” if you have any trouble using the link above to get to the Gateway site. Comments are being received until March 15, 2011.
Also of note, two important community meetings regarding Jamaica Bay and its shoreline are coming up soon: Thursday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m., Kings Plaza Community Room (right near the entrance to the parking garage on Flatbush Avenue), the NYC Economic Development Commission will host a public scoping meeting on the proposed development of Four Sparrow Marsh, near Toys R’ Us. You can read a story about it published on this blog last month.
Next Thursday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m., Salt Marsh Nature Center, Avenue U (in the park area west of Kings Plaza), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NYC Parks Department will hold a public meeting about the plans to rebuild the crumbling bike path (and endangered Belt Parkway road surface), at Plumb Beach, the shoreline park due east of the Emmons Avenue “Restaurant Row” in Sheepshead Bay. The beach is an important horseshoe crab nesting location and recreation destination, and the shared responsibility of city and federal parks officials.
One last comment–hope everyone is finding time to check out the news about the proposed expansion of JFK Airport, one of the most important things to happen out here in decades. I wrote an aticle on this blog last month; there is also a longer piece on the front page of the Feb. 4 issue of The Wave, with photos of the four proposed runway expansions on page 60. None of it is good news, in my view, but opinions may differ. What is undisputed is that everyone is talking about it! Keep an eye out for upcoming meetings, and there’s no harm in firing off a letter or email to your congressman right now, expressing your views. The email address for Congressman Weiner’s assistant, Mike Gluck, is email@example.com. The snail mail addresses for Weiner and Congressman Gregory Meeks are also printed each week on page 4 of The Wave.