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Power of the Pen !

I mentioned a few posts back that I had my first Daily News shoutout from a letter I wrote to Dennis Hamill.

People asked for the full body of the letter, so here it is:

Dear Mr. Hamill,

First, let me thank you for your continued articles about the Rockaways. This has been My Backyard for my entire 22 years, and it's rare that it gets much press in the local papers. I appreciate your humanizing of the neighborhood and I respect your obvious appreciation for the most beautiful beach in New York City.

Having said that, I take issue with your article in today's Daily News. I feel you turn a complex issue--of the lack of resources offered to the entire peninsula, of the fact that the city has used our few miles as a dumping ground for decades--into an issue of black and white. In doing this, you not only present incorrect information, you do nothing to help the cause of bringing the community together. You mention that on the western end of the peninsula there are parking permits required--incorrect. Nowhere in Rockaway do you need a permit to park, unless you mean Breezy Point, the private co-op further west, which is a whole other story. The No-Parking rules, which you describe as a way to keep "transients" out, is something the city has created on weekends and holidays between May and September and is as annoying for residents as it is for those looking to park for the beach. Instead of pointing out what you view to be disparities in the neighborhood, why don't you point out the similarities? I'm a typical white kid from the western end of the peninsula, yet just like my counterparts on the eastern end, I have no movie theater, no bowling alley, no youth center, no pool. Growing up, everything I wanted to do was a bus ride away, making me no different than those living in Far Rockaway. If anything, the transportation in Far Rock--with a LIRR stop, more frequent A trains, buses to Jamaica and into Nassau County--is better than that in Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor and Neponsit. You yourself have written about the proposed YMCA, with a pool, in Arverne; a much-needed haven for all of Rockaway and easily accessible to everyone by car, bus, train, bike, or foot. The issue is still unresolved, as the city continues to build new baseball stadiums and spends millions of dollars on new gates at the entrance to the tiny Queens Botanical Gardens. Just one more example of other areas of this borough and city getting more, while we continue to get less.

Both of the two Rockaways you present in your article suffer from the same lack of resources and lack of opportunities, throughout all of the seasons. The issue of the beach, and the number of lifeguards on it, is minor compared to the other problems that exist. While you may choose to separate us by race and money, you fail to see the bigger picture, of want and need. All kids are left with nothing to do and nowhere to go, and while this problem may manifest itself differently in different neighborhoods, the problem still exists for everybody. In a month, the beaches will be closed, and the kids on this peninsula will still be bored out of their skulls. What are you going to write about then?



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I wonder if my writing has even improved?