Jill Weber, administrator of Rockaway Parks, recently retired from that position, to work for Hempstead, Long Island parks. She will be greatly missed. The timing of her departure is somewhat unfortunate. In my opinion, Jill ranked very near the top of the list of public officials who served the Rockaways with distinction. The catastrophe wrought by Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge in October 2012, and ineffectiveness of rebuilding efforts by city, state and federal agencies since then, will probably always cloud Jill’s legacy. Yet, I believe that individual administrators are not to blame, but rather, the policies and practices of government agencies as a whole. Jill toiled mightily to support the community and never tried to foist blame for failures onto subordinates. She partnered well with all types of community groups, constantly supporting them, and dived into planning events with enthusiasm.
There is much unfinished business for the Parks Department in Rockaway–mainly, the boardwalk. It doesn’t count that with today’s snowstorm, Mother Nature has “partnered” with Parks to give residents many great new recreational opportunities–as in, sledding down the sand berms! Could this make “bus hill” obsolete?
Just a friendly reminder — if you or your children sled on the beach, please respect the areas where dune grass is growing. Someday, it may protect our homes.
As to the boardwalk, Jill’s retirement filled me with nostalgia about the pre-Sandy era. A snowy day is a good time to be creative, so I’ve written a parody of Gordon Lightfoot’s legendary ballad about the sinking of ‘The Edmund Fitzgerald.’ We want our seaside hangout back, soon!
The Wreck of the Rockaway Boardwalk
The legend lives on from the surfers on down, of the ocean they call the Atlantic
The ocean it’s said, never gives up her dead when the waves of October turn gloomy.
Sandy’s pressure was dropping 10 millibars lower than any wild storm had before her,
Our boardwalk, rough hewed, was a bone to be chewed, when the tides of October came foaming.
The park was the pride of Queens’ southeastern side, since its birth in the wild, Roaring Twenties
As seaside parks go, it was bigger than most, with a crew and a captain most pleasing.
Concluding some terms with the great foodie firms, at the start of the 2012 season.
Then later that summer, when the tourists got humming, could it be that a storm surge was coming?
But very few knew, from Bloomberg to Liu, that a mighty big storm surge was rolling.
The dawn came late and breakfast had to wait, when that gale of October receded
When afternoon came there were crowds on the way to the wreck of the Rockaway Boardwalk.
Then 2015 came, our friend Jill got on stage, saying “fellas, it’s been good to know ‘ya.”
By 9 p.m.,the goodbyes had been said, and all of the plaques were presented.
Then the crowd gathered in for a group photo op, one last time to bid Jill adieu
But later that night after all had a chance to gift her, some still hummed that song by the Drifters.
Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
There are some who will say the park would be here today if more sand had been thrown on the shoreline.
Some blocks split up, and others capsized, and floated away in the water
And all that remains is the berms and trap bags and a couple of dunes out in Arverne.
Long Island Sound rolls, and Oyster Bay sings in the rooms of her salt-water mansions
Jamaica Bay steams like a young man’s dreams, her islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below, Breezy Inlet takes in what the Atlantic sends her
And the tourists will go, as the locals all know with the storms of the autumn remembered.
In the K of C hall in Holland they prayed, and over at St. Rose of Lima,
The sirens rang long for each wind-whipped wave, for each piece of the Rockaway Boardwalk.
The legend lives on from the surfers on down of the ocean they call the Atlantic
The ocean, it’s said, never gives up her dead, ‘til the boardwalk planks start returning.
Header photo, song parody and text of posting, copyright 2015 Vivian R. Carter. All other photos copyrighted as noted above.