There are stirrings; faint but unmistakable rumblings behind the curtain of silence that cocoons the MTA and its assorted machinations. At first the sound from those quarters was barely audible, like snow underfoot, but now the quiet before the storm is dissipating and there can be discerned in the distance a rising crescendo as it gathers strength for higher and higher ascents to the crest of the scale and beyond until, geyser like, it will gush forth with every angry thunderclap its massive 5 billion dollar budget can muster.
There is reason for them to be angry for the MTA-LIRR, with their colossal egotism, did not expect to be challenged so directly, so passionately and so completely as they were during the scoping hearings in June of 2005. Flourishing as they have in a governmentally subsidized environment, they never believed that there existed those who would contest their sanctimonious pieties much less have the audacity to exhume from their not so ancient burial grounds the carcasses of their many past failures.
Interestingly, this malfunctioning entity, that has excelled at carelessly and foolishly expending funds to compensate for its internal inefficiencies, has gathered more than its share of powerful proponents to back them in another of their self-serving projects. The question is how an agency whose façade of unctuous respectability cannot conceal its cold-blooded unscrupulousness in expending taxpayers' dollars so wastefully is able to secure such an array of support from so many varied interests on a now billion-dollar boondoggle? Well, as one wit aptly noted: Where there is big money there is big forgiveness.
Floral Park, however, is no one's amen corner. Rather than genuflect to the powers that be we've rolled up our sleeves, spit on our hands and raised the black flag - we mean business - we mean to fight! There can be no other recourse; for how often has the MTA-LIRR ignored our most earnest pleas, scorned our supplications and callously rebuffed our remonstrances on the simplest quality of life issues. Now they come here, relentlessly and remorselessly, to reap where they have not sown.
But we will not let ourselves be bound and blindfolded and sheepishly led, step-by-step, to the gallows. We know what is at stake. The turbulence of a third track construction will undoubtedly rupture our community with a series of physical convulsions, create nightmarish traffic congestion and uproot long established businesses. The construction phase itself, perhaps an interminable five years, will seem like an efflux of ages and our spirits though undaunted can hardly remain tranquil at the prospect of such an ominous turn of events.
But the MTA-LIRR is now back or soon will be with their vaunted DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) to respond to the hundreds of inquiries raised by us at the public hearings, the submission of thousands of signed petitions and letters, reports of findings and even a videotaping in Floral Park Village Hall of scores of Floral Park residents voicing their opposition. It is, as a whole, a remarkable and voluminous record of opposition and one in which we are deservedly proud.
The good news amid the reemergence of the third track mega-project is we have dug in and established a beachhead, reached out and joined forces with other communities and developed strong alliances with public officials such as Senators Mike Balboni and Kemp Hannon who have brought our fight to the New York State Capital Review Board that made the unprecedented decision of requiring that before a nickel is spent or a shovel is placed in the ground the MTA-LIRR must have full disclosure to the people it putatively serves. That means us.
Chastised by this totally unexpected development by the Capital Review Board, I doubt that the MTA-LIRR will use a Darwinian red tooth and claw approach on how they plan to plunder your community. With their savvy, high priced, tax subsidized public relations people their strategy will be subtler. They might even come as Greeks bearing gifts and yes we will also be wary of the Trojan horse - "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" is no longer applicable.
Our strategy will be to continue exercising leadership not only by the means of command but by consultation, by listening, forging natural alliances with others toward commonly defined and accepted goals. Finally, we propose to leave no stone unturned either politically, procedurally or legally to protect our lives and our life's investments in this community. Be assured that your elected representatives would not expend the energies nor spend this time if we did not think that our interests did not justify the price or legitimize the burden.
I want to congratulate Chief Joseph O'Grady and the Floral Park Fire Department on a very successful "Fire Prevention Day." By shrewdly making the day a combined Halloween/Fire Prevention Day, the event proved a magnet for many children and their parents. Joined by Deputy Mayor and Fire Commissioner Kevin Greene, we saw an array of costumed children and their caring parents learn the grammar of fire prevention and what to do in case of a fire. Education is the key to saving lives and protecting property.
Speaking of firefighters, I want to thank the Floral Park Little League for proposing a dedication of Field 3 at the recreation center in memory of Lieutenant Bobby Regan of the New York City Fire Department Saturday, Oct. 14. Under the auspices of that great organization, its president, Greg Wood, presided over a dignified ceremony with skill and sensitivity.
For those who did not know Bobby in the many roles he played in our community it is enough to say he had lived among us as a husband, a father, a son, a friend, a neighbor and a baseball coach at our recreation center. In each and every role, he fulfilled his call to duty. This was the lesson of his hard earned experience; this was the longing of his soul to face every task with a determination to conquer its difficulties and never let them conquer you. It was his choice to live out a sacred trust, whatever the risk, rather than to live a life of regret for not answering the call.
This is how Bobby Regan faced the challenges of life, be it on the lush green ball fields he loved or before the crucible of the burning towers on September 11, 2001 where, at destiny's edge, his character was tested to the fullest and he proved worthy on what is now his field of honor.
Our nation, our community, paid a terrible price that day. We lost so many - we lost Bobby and his brother firefighter, Charles Menendez, another Floral Park resident, whose life was also sacrificed in the greatest rescue mission in our nation's history.
As Bobby's widow, Donna, and his two children unveiled the plaque of dedication, we could not help but be touched by sadness and yet it was not bereavement that characterized the moment but a sense of triumph that Bobby was one of ours and how ennobled we are by his heroic example.