Friday, September 24, 2010

The End of Cedar Grove...

Andrea Peyser in the NY Post talks about a little Staten Island community that has finally been destroyed by the Parks Department and City Government.

I know Cedar Grove. It's within walking distance of my home, and I've been there on numerous occasions over the last 30 years. It's a nice place, in fact, it's a great place. Or at least it was. It's also an example of what happens when private citizens are allowed to do things that City Government normally considers it's private domain -- except that in the case of Cedar Grove, everything actually worked.

The beach was clean. The water was clean. The houses were kept in good repair, and the landscape in good order.

Meanwhile, on the "government-owned" land on either side of Cedar Grove, there's nothing but filth...assuming you can even see the filth for the decades of overgrowth, litter, illegally-dumped garbage, dead-formerly-rabid-animals, abandoned buildings, abandoned cars, and the remains of who-knows-how-many potential Mob victims who simply "disappeared" one day.

That's probably why Cedar Grove has to go; it makes government look bad. It serves as a positive example to anyone who might have ideas about limiting the power and scope of government. It's a visible symbol that government cannot do everything, and that what it can do, it does ineptly and super-expensively, if it deigns to do it at all. And of course, this is New York City --- there has to be some money and graft involved in this decision somewhere along the line. The Parks Department can talk all it wants about "Public Access" to the beach; I'm promising you that sometime in the very near future that plan will be scrapped because of "budget constraints" or some such bullshit, and a shitload of "beachfront" cookie-cutter condos will be built on the site...courtesy of the well-connected real estate developers who will somehow manage to buy the property from a cash-strapped City for a ridiculously-low price.

Even in a down economy, where many people are defaulting on mortgages and lending is tighter than a virgin's ass, someone has probably figured out a way to make money on a real-estate deal in New York City. I wouldn't be surprised to find those future beachfront condos sold to the Upper East Side douchebags who find it inconvenient to go the Hamptons or Bar Harbor every single summer weekend, or worse, have the money, but not the social connections to even enter that world. Their shame at being rejected by their social betters must be assuaged by tossing working-class people out of their summer, and in some cases, only, homes.

We need more housing development and parks on this already over-crowded island like we need herpes. There's already nearly 500,000 of us crammed into a 12-by-7-mile-island, and we don't need anymore people here. Especially not the rich, snobby type. And we have more parkland here between the Gateway National Recreational Area, Egbertville Ravine, and the Greenbelt than some STATES (approximately 20% of the land on Staten Island is beach, parkland, or Federally-protected marshland/forest/wildlife refuges). If you like the Great Outdoors, fuck Central Park -- come here and ride your fucking HORSE through the fucking WOODS (you can still do that here!).

So, hard-working, good people, who have poured their love and sweat into their community have to be evicted to provide the nuveau riche with an imitation Myrtle Beach, and allow the politicos to pocket some more money from the real estate developers.

It's a crying shame. When I was a kid on this Island, you could go camping at Camp Pouch (owned by the Boy Scouts, now it too is up for sale), skate on Walker Pond in the winter (three blocks from my ancestral home), walk the forest trails that follow the base of Todt Hill, fish from the piers, and spend a day at the beach without worrying about stepping on used needles, or dodging the latest four-ton bit of rusting steel dislodged from a Chinese container ship entering New York Harbor. The marshlands along Great Kills beach didn't catch fire every year in a spectacular display that rivals any Californian wildfire.

This island has been ruined by the abject neglect, or greed, of our City Government. Our institutions are openly pissed upon. We're the butt of jokes in the media. Our neighborhoods are being destroyed by illegal immigration. Developers working hand-in-hand with City government -- which regards Staten Islanders alternately as provincial hicks or just the 20% of the City Tax base that can be safely shit upon -- have conspired to ruin a great place. The loss of Cedar Grove is just the latest blow to an island that is rapidly losing it's unique character.

The City should have learned a lesson after last spring's protests about a mosque being built in Midland Beach; there's only so much more we're going to take.

But I guess the City government is too busy salivating over all the money it thinks it's going to get by destroying an awesome neighborhood to think about that.

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