Today’s news:

What free country?

To The Editor:

When I first glanced the headline screaming across last week’s issue of your paper, “New Hours at Pier,” I was first shocked, then offended, to see once again how the role of government has changed so drastically in this once free country.

I thought the plan to close the pier at night was abandoned after it was proposed last summer and was strongly opposed by Canarsie residents and fishermen. The rationale for the proposed closing, defective lights in the parking lot, was resolved by one of our elected officials, who generously arranged for the funding to repair the electrical problems and personally assured me the pier would remain open at night.

This new night closing policy, which I first discovered by reading your paper, is being imposed on us, arbitrarily, without any discussions with community leaders. It is even more draconian than the original plan. In addition to closing the parking lot, this new policy will totally eliminate night fishing and night access to the Canarsie shoreline by closing the pier “to all from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. every day.”

The imposition of such a drastic change in policy after more than 200 years of free and unobstructed access to the Canarsie shore has confirmed my long held belief that we are no longer a free country where government exists to serve us. This new policy, directly challenging the unified voice of Canarsie residents confirmed my opinion that we are now living in a dictatorship of the bureaucracy.

Today, appointed despots, like Lisa Eckert, the superintendent of Jamaica Bay attempt to regulate all aspects of our lives. Appointed bureaucrats, whether federal, state or local are unwilling to accept community demands that challenge their preconceived notions of what is best. They may delay imposition of their plans for a short time to placate the public, while waiting for the outcry to simmer down, but never accept defeat.

In addition to the night closing of Canarsie Pier, I would not be surprised to see a re-emergence of the congestion pricing scheme and even the recently defeated plan for the hated “concrete mushroom” bandshell in Seaview Park.

The voice of the people, and even that of their elected officials, appears meaningless.

I am not willing to accept the loss of night access to our pier or any type of permit system that limits access to fee paying fishermen (and women). I sent letters to Barry Sullivan, general superintendent of Gateway National Park, Mary A. Bomar, the director of the National Park Service and Dirk Kempthorne, the secretary of the Department of the Interior, informing them about this issue and demanding that Lisa Eckert is removed or transferred.

The decrepit conditions at the pier and this plan to close the pier at night prove that she does not serve the needs of Canarsie. It would be great if other Canarsie residents who share my feelings about the pier also contact these officials.

In addition to this latest affront to Canarsie, Lisa Eckert has been destructive to our community by failing to find a suitable business or concession to replace Abbraciamento’s Restaurant and has failed to maintain our park facilities or provide shoreline recreation at the once vibrant pier.

In the past we had boat mooring, rowboat rentals, sales of bait, tackle and fuel and boat tours of Jamaica Bay in addition to summer concerts. She has failed to provide competent leadership in maintaining and restoring what was once the gem of Canarsie.

This message must reach the people in Washington DC. Our peaceful, welcoming, multi-cultural shoreline community needs high quality shoreline recreation that takes advantage of our beautiful Jamaica Bay, not padlocked gates, overgrown plantings and abandoned, boarded up restaurants and park facilities.

Steven Kaye

Vice-President

South Canarsie Civic Assoc.

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