A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette.
Hon. Michael Bloomberg
Mayor of the City of New York
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
I write to express my strong opposition to a proposal by the Parks Department to install an air bubble over the tennis courts in Astoria Park so that they can be used in the winter months.
As an initial matter, I was never officially contacted by anyone regarding this proposal, which would have a significant impact on my community. In fact, as I write to you today, all of the information I obtained has been through the grapevine.
As someone who has enjoyed a good working relationship with your administration, I was both surprised and distraught that a plan with such a great impact on my neighborhood was not brought to my attention.
More importantly, a proposal of this type is universally opposed by Astoria residents-and for good reason. Indeed, a similar proposal many years ago was rejected after significant community opposition was expressed. Legitimate concerns relating to hours of operation, construction and generator noise, landscaping problems and neighborhood beautification make clear that this is simply a bad idea for the residents of Western Queens.
Accordingly, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to direct the Parks Department to abandon its plans to install this bubble over the Astoria Park tennis courts and to encourage the Parks Department to work more openly and cooperatively with local representatives in the future.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter and I look forward to continuing our work together to make Queens a better and safer place for the working men and women of New York.
Michael N. Gianaris
Member of Assembly
Support Local Parks
To The Editor:
As New Yorkers, and especially residents of Queens, we all know that our city is first in the nation in diversity, culture, business, sports and the arts. Then why aren’t our parks and playgrounds also No. 1 in the nation? The sad fact is that from Boston to Chicago to Seattle, dozens of cities across America are surpassing us in funding and maintaining their parks. New York City is not doing the job it should...and the results sadly reflect that.
True, we have some of the greatest parks in the world. But too many of our neighborhood parks are unsafe, full of broken benches and drinking fountains, locked restrooms, poor ball fields and playgrounds and littered pathways.
Why are our neighborhood parks in trouble? Because we are not giving them the support they need. We have the experienced people to manage these beautiful green spaces and the dedication (over 60,000 volunteers who care for their parks every year).
But we do not have the funding. The city is shortchanging our parks!
Every New Yorker deserves cleaner, greener, and safe parks for their kids to play in, their family to relax in and to promote better health. If the city dedicated one percent of its annual operating budget to parks, we would have the parks system New Yorkers could brag about.
This summer, the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces, a 414-member-strong organization of volunteer groups in our borough, has joined with thousands of New Yorkers in the Parks1 campaign to make New York’s parks and playgrounds No. 1 in the nation. We believe we can do it. We know we deserve, it. Now we just need our mayor and city council—and the candidates for those offices—to see that it is finally done!
President, Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces
Rotarians Are Heroes
To The Editor:
It is said in the books of yesteryear that knights were noble individuals that protected the rights of others, often times, serving an entire community. Knights were known to have a code of chivalry, a code of ethics that guided their behavior. They were people anyone could go to for help and, if the cause was just and right, they would defend, fight and protect. It might surprise some of your readers to know that we have knights among us today, in our very own community of Flushing. They are called Rotarians.
I write the letter to the editor to publicly thank the Rotarian Club of Flushing. For a second year in a row, they have supported the Northshore Anti-Graffiti Volunteers, who paint over graffiti in Northeastern Queens. The Rotarians of Flushing, like knights, support our group without fanfare. They do not seek a parade or the press for their good deeds. Rather, like knights who stand guard to a castle deep in the night, they do their good work in silence. They do their work with only hearts full of desire to help others, to protect, to serve.
Please let your readers know that knights still exist, that they are alive and well, that today, the only difference is, they no longer call themselves “knights,” but rather “Rotarians.” Before them, I kneel on bended knee and say, “Thank You.”
President, Northshore Anti-Graffiti Volunteers
Hails Vasean’s Law
To The Editor:
At this time I would like to commend Gov. [George] Pataki, who has just officially signed, “Vasean’s Law,”-named after the 11-year [old] Queens boy killed on October 22, 2004, by a man who was intoxicated behind the wheel. Under the old law a person would face a misdemeanor charge which is driving while intoxicated, but with this new law a person would face [a] vehicular manslaughter charge, a sentence of 2 1/2 to seven years behind bars. Pataki also signed into law a bill beefing up sentences for hit-and-run drivers. There have been too many of those this year alone. Added to that, there has been too much loss of life.
And finally to Vasean Alleyne’s mother, Monique Dixon, we praise you for your tenacious lobbying efforts that helped make this law a reality, for as you said at the signing about your son Vasean, “God chose something else for him, he chose him to be the catalyst to save others’ lives.”
In that you truly went far beyond your love for your son and extended that love to others. May God bless you for what you have achieved. You ought to be named Mother of the year.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Principal For A Day Is Learning Experience
To The Editor:
On April 9 I had the privilege of being “Principal for a Day” at Forest Hills High School. Over the years I have driven by the school on my way to the hospital and have always been impressed by the beauty of the campus. When I was invited to be “Principal for a Day” I immediately checked the school’s Web site and was impressed with the scope of the school’s academic, cultural, and athletic programs. I thought “what a special place!” Having myself graduated from one of New York City’s “specialty” schools I couldn’t help but compare my experience with that of this “local” high school.
From the moment I entered the building I knew Forest Hills High School was a very special place. I was struck by the beauty of the building, the leadership of Principal Stephen Frey, the energy and pride of the Assistant Principals, and the efforts of the faculty. I attended many classes and spoke to many students.
Class participation was impressive. In the bio-med and other science classes, the students were laser-like in their focus, and were absorbing very sophisticated material. The instructor in the lab was incredible. From science to the music of the band, from French to Spanish to English as a Second Language to Cinema Studies, the students were a delight. Even the class changes, with thousands of students making their way to their next class, was a testimonial to the student’s passion for learning.
The school is operating three shifts a day to accommodate almost 4,000 students. The school is obviously the envy of the surrounding communities. While it is nice for other-than Forest Hills residents to have access to the school, it does cause “growing pains” and other challenges of trying to fit so many students into the number of classrooms they have available.
My purpose in writing to you is to let you know of the jewel we have in our community. My hospital is formalizing our long-term commitment to the school through the “Adopt a School Program” building upon our current relationship with the school’s Bio-Med Program. I urge [your readers] to get involved by learning more about Forest Hills High School and by showing the students that their community is supporting their development. I intend to continue to advocate on the expansion of the library, repair to the main stage, new equipment for the science programs, instruments for the music program, and athletic equipment, etc. With all the pressure facing school funding, I am sure the city will support the school to the best of its ability. The community, especially community leaders in government and business, as well as other human service organizations, should get involved and support these great kids and show the students and faculty that we appreciate their efforts and will support their ongoing success and development.
If you haven’t already, you should visit Forest Hills High School and meet the dynamic Principal Frey, hear about the award-winning students and programs, and make sure the school’s future plans are consistent with your views for the future of the community and its next generation. Principal Frey’s phone number is (718) 268-3137.
I commend Principal Frey for his work and that of the faculty and look forward to enhancing the relationship between Forest Hills High School and its partner Forest Hills Hospital.
With best regards,
Robert T. Hettenbach
Forest Hills Hospital