Workmen’s compensation insurance for the volunteer firefighters in South Queens and a state-of-the-art skateboard park are just two of the plans Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. says are as good as accomplished now that the city’s budget is finalized.
“Queens fared well. We got $12.9 million for parks—more than any other borough,” said Addabbo, who is chairman of the City Council’s Parks Committee. “The Parks Department budget was only cut 12 percent instead of 20 percent as was planned.”
Residents of Rockaway Beach can look forward to a long-sought-after skateboard park to be located somewhere on Parks Department property between the boardwalk and Shore Front Parkway.
Money for phase two construction of the Broad Channel Park, located near the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, has been allocated. The city will contribute $500,000 and Borough Hall will match that amount.
However, Addabbo said he is most proud of two issues that he felt strongly about and fought for: workmen’s compensation insurance for volunteer firefighters and a commuter ferry between Rockaway and Manhattan.
“There are only 12 volunteer fire departments in the city and five of them are in South Queens,” Addabbo said. “Members risk their health and lives each time they go out on a call. But if they get hurt while volunteering, it affects their ability to earn a living.”
As of July 1st, firefighters with the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department, the Broad Channel Fire Department as well as the three Rockaway volunteer organizations will be covered under the same workmen’s compensation plan that city firefighters have. The council has set aside $150,000 for this purpose.
Addabbo also convinced councilmembers to allocate $300,000 for a commuter ferry for Rockaway. The money will subsidize the venture for three months.
The Port Authority will be partners with the city on the ferry deal. Docking will be at the old Coast Guard station near Riis Park, although Addabbo and Councilman James Sanders are discussing the possibility of future dock construction in a more central Rockaway location, that would be more costly.
“We have ferry companies looking at the project now,” Addabbo said. “If it works for them, they will jump at the chance to expand.”
Each councilperson has been allocated about $80,000 in discretionary funds, $62,000 for youth programs and $33,000 for seniors. The money may be used to support non-profit organizations and groups.