2005-08-25 / View From the Middle

Rockaway Parkway Merchants Ass’n: Doin’ It Right (We Hope!)

View From The Middle
By Charles Rogers

Most of us have become inured to the bureaucratic, swamp-like, effort it takes some projects that need to be done here — year after year. We now look warily askance and in disbelief at whether we’ll ever see the completion of some projects, and marvel at how others ever got even halfway done, such as getting rid of the monstrous compost site in Seaview Park, which took eons to accomplish — and, at that, it’s still a weed-infested, mosquito-infested, garbage- infested, half-fenced mess infringing on a project that (wait — I have to take a breath here!) happens to be yet another lesson in red tape: the revitalization of Seaview Park.

Surely there’s more to be said about the park fiasco. While it doesn’t look that bad, we have our social activists and purity-of-park advocates who, properly, want it to be better. We can’t knock that, but how long must we wait for something tangible to be done? The efforts put forth by City Councilman Lew Fidler notwithstanding, when they say the wheels of government grind slowly (or something like that) they aren’t kidding. It still doesn’t hurt to complain about it — otherwise nothing would be accomplished.

On the same type of topic, we’ve stood by and watched — for much too long a time — how the supposed revitalization of the Avenue L shopping strip has led to multiple lessons in complacency, apathy or futility. That’s it — futility! If I see one more bill-of-fare showcasing some kind of event completely outside of our own community slapped on the rotting plywood covering the windows of that decrepit, abandoned Country Kitchen disgrace located next to that decrepit, abandoned Canarsie Theater disgrace at East 93rd Street, I’ll stand in the middle of the street and shoot myself.

Now, I know these things take a long time. I would be foolishly too idealistic to think otherwise. Fidler knows this; Assemblyman Frank Seddio knows this; other interested politicians and, yes, shoppers know this and, hey, now you know this.

And aren’t they — and you — ashamed that something hasn’t been done by this time? Hell, it was a year ago when I went into a similar (same) diatribe — with the same results. And y’know what? It was a year before that when I did it too! Whaddya gonna do?

Now, the Rockaway Parkway Merchants Associa-tion has launched their own plan for revitalization (including a survey, just like Avenue L’s).

Not only have they begun a concerted campaign to better everything on the Parklway, but, as with Avenue L, they’ve begun the drive properly.

Merchants Association President Ed Gottlieb has enlisted the services of a part-time public relations consultant, Herb Preminger (who was once a merchant there himself), to promote the retailers. Under Ed and Herb’s direction, a newsletter has been published — the second one came out the beginning of this month — letting the merchants know how things are going. And they’ve issued a survey to the store owners, asking for feedback about what improvements might be made in the near or far future.

Last Monday, Gottlieb, officials of his group and local politicians, including Assemblyman Nick Perry, representatives of City Councilman Charles Barron, and Brooklyn Borough Transportation Commis-sioner Lori Ardito, met on the street to take a look around. They got some idea of where funding would be necessary and, hopefully, started planning things. They’ll issue their findings and let the merchants know the results in a September meeting. Of course, thasnks to that newsletter, each merchant will be informed of what’s going on throughout the whole process.

A paramount part of the effort, according to Gottlieb, though, is the uniting and inclusion of the merchants themselves in the revitalization process. We’ll see what happens, but it’s starting on the right foot. Now we can hope they don’t trip or put it in their mouth.

Of course, now I’m in the doghouse as far as Seaview Park and Avenue L and other dragging-foot projects are concerned because I know Fidler, et al, are going to say (while pouting), “Hey, it takes time. We held meetings; we took tours; we’re getting funding for various projects. Why would Rockaway Park-way merchants be considered ahead of the game by doing the same thing?”

The answer is — Maybe it’s just a case of style; maybe following through; maybe letting everyone know what’s going on as if everyone is an integral part of the plan. That newsletter makes the merchants feel they are not only part of an organization that will promote their business, but that they are also part of a club.

Another aspect is strictly business: They feel they are banding together to fight yet another foe — the Gateway Mall, just to the east of Starrett City, which is, naturally, taking away some business.

Who knows? Maybe their efforts won’t work. But it won’t be because they haven’t tried.

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