1999-10-02 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The results are in. Digitalcity on the AOL network asked people to vote for the best beach in New York City. Many were nominated, but only one was the winner. Rockaway Beach got 31 percent of the 1812 votes. Honorable mention went to Breezy Point (21 percent) and Coney Island (20 percent). One respondent said "Definitely Neponsit Beach in the Rockaways. It’s clean. It’s free, there’s no trouble parking (where did she go?) and the water is always so clear and fresh." Other nominated beaches included Jacob Riis Park and City Island. Of Breezy Point, the website says, "This private beach at the western point of the Rockaways is nice, but you have to know someone who lives there to get onto the sands. Worth checking with your mom for nearby relatives." We are the champions!

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I may be the only person in Rockaway happy to see the Doppler radar come to Floyd Bennett Field, but I am happy indeed. There has been a need for the facility for a number of years and the need is not decreasing as flights into and out of the airport increase. I, for one, do not want to see a 737 on final approach meet Beach Channel drive because of a microburst or a downdraft. The radar will help controllers and pilots to know that it is coming long before it shows up. Is Floyd Bennett the right place? It has always been an aviation setting. What better place for a radar that will save pilot’s lives? It has already been proven that it is neither dangerous nor unsightly. I hope they build it quickly before we have a thunderstorm and it is really needed.

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The fact that I refuse to join the ACLU does not mean that I do not believe in first amendment rights. I do! Having said that, I also want to say that I think that Mayor Giuliani has a point that public money should not be supporting dreck like that purporting to be Art at the Brooklyn Museum. I have nothing against the artists cutting up animals, smearing feces on canvas or desecrating religious symbols. If they want to do it and people want to see it, then more power to them. The point is, I don’t want to pay for it with my tax money. Whenever any group, be it artists, schools, the military, or whatever, accepts public money, it should also accept the fact that the public has a right to say how it is used. That is why the art community should not accept public funds. If anybody uses my money, I have a right to chime in with my approbation or my censorship. I have had this argument with many artists, including some friends. They believe that this type of art would disappear without public money. I say, "so what." Lets these "artists" contend with the public marketplace. They would soon have to find useful work. Would opera and ballet die as well, as some contend? I don’t think so. There is always a marketplace for what the public likes. It is the other stuff that will die, and I say "good riddance."

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Barbara Morris of West End Realty is look for a few good men and women. She needs the professional people to populate the new Sands Point Professional Arts Center, which recently had its groundbreaking on Beach 102 street. If you are a professional (MD, lawyer, engineer, etc.) and need a place in Rockaway to land, see Barbara.

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If you are having a tough time getting through to EZ-Pass, don’t feel badly. You are not alone. Because of some computer glitches at headquarters and the rapid expansion of the program, all of the lines are busy. Credit cards are not being updated. Bills are not being sent out. Checks and other payments are not being recorded. It is a mess. At the same time, TBTA officers are confiscating the passes of anybody who gets the message that their accounts are either low or empty. Try getting your pass back once it has been confiscated. It is easier to get George Steinbrenner to love the Bronx. Hopefully, the agency will soon catch up. Until then, the officers should stop taking the passes from unwitting motorists, who are guilty of nothing but being caught in the middle.

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Monarch Butterflies and dragonflies inundated the skies over Rockaway last week. I walked from Beach 116 street to Beach 121 street and had to duck and dodge to keep away from the flying creatures. I understand that the butterflies are on the way to Mexico. I don’t see how those little wings will get them there, but they do. By the way, some environmentalists are angry at the malathion spraying, arguing that the toxic materials kill butterflies and birds as well. I wonder how many butterflies are worth one person? Jeffrey Glassberg is the president of the North America Butterfly Association (he should get a life). "Spraying for mosquitoes can have a dramatic effect on the butterfly population," he says. "It is a very unfortunate situation." In any case, I was walking home. Drinking a cup of coffee one night last week when the chopper flew right over me, spraying the mosquito-killer all over me. I dumped out my coffee. Never can be too safe.

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Perhaps Tony Weiner would like to set up a hospital for the butterflies that fall to malathiaon. After all, he recently called for an animal care facility at Gateway National Park. It seems that a man found a gull that was injured and it died before he could get it first aid. The national park does not seem interested in the issue. "The park’s objectives do not include the care and treatment of injured wildlife," a park spokesman told a daily newspaper. Weiner, is not impressed that the park service is uninterested. He obviously sees it as an important issue. He suggests that the park service train people for a first aid unit. "The story pointed up that in a wildlife refuge there should be at least some basic first aid available for wildlife," he says. "To expect it in the largest urban national park in the country is not unreasonable." He added, "it seems that the park service does not give a hoot. We haven’t heard the last of this issue. I’m going to press it further." It seems interesting to me that Tony wants to keep a Doppler radar, which could save hundreds of people, out of the park and wants to insert a first aid facility to save a bird. Oh, well, priorities are priorities.

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Hillary Clinton is a Democratic politician and she waffled on the FALN clemency issue. Bill Bradley is obviously another Democratic politician who has waffled on the same issue. First he said that he supported the President’s decision. Of course, he was in Puerto Rico at the time. Then he got back to the mainland and he announced that he agreed with Senator Moynihan, who opposed the clemency. Two days ago in Washington, he ducked two questions about the issue. How about it Bill, when are you really going to take a stand?

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The New York Times recently did a short bio on Ida Rodriquez, one of the freed FALN terrorists. She left her son, Damian and went underground. Now that she is back in Puerto Rico (which she originally left when she was two years old) waiting for her son to join her. "I’m waiting for my son to arrive. He will meet with me and stay here when the timing is good. I accept that my decision created pain in my son. It was a raw deal that he got…" I agree, but how about the raw deal the kids of the man who was eating at Fraunce’s Tavern got when he was blown to smithereens by a bomb planted by Rodriquez or her compatriots? How about the kids of the police officer whose father will never be able to see them because he is blind because of an FALN bomb? Somehow, I don’t have any compassion for her kid’s feelings. There is too much else involved and it was a raw deal for all of those killed or maimed by the FALN members who now sit in comfort in Puerto Rico.

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Rolf Mahler lives in Baldwin. He is angry with the New York State Parks Commission for closing the parking fields at Jones Beach the day that Floyd hit. "It is awesome to have the wind howling, the sand blowing, the ocean churning while watching Mother Nature," he wrote. Too bad you missed it, Rolf. You should have come to Rockaway. We had the whole show and it was open to all.

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Audrey Pheffer was hurt a short time ago while christening a new ambulance for the Lindenwood Volies. After a few no-go’s, Pheffer swung the champagne so hard that she had to have eight stitches in her thumb when the bottle shattered. She was the first to utilize the new ambulance. I wish her a speedy recovery. She has to learn to watch that champagne. The bubbly will get you every time.

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Congratulations to Larry Eichen, the local commander of the Jewish War Veteran’s who was recently profiled in the Queens Life section of Newsday. Eichen was a member of the crew of the USS Turner, which was torpedoed off the coast of Rockaway during WW II. I loved his quote in the bio. "Life is like a mirror – you’ll never got out more than you put in." Those who continually knock Rockaway and who don’t want to see any improvements should take that saying to heart.

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Congratulations also to Tricia Tubridy, the senior center at Christ The King, who is being actively sought by several top colleges. Princeton and Harvard are reportedly on the menu and Columbia, Stony Brook and Fordham have reportedly already put in bids for the first-team all-Queens center.

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The Beach Channel High School football team has increased its record to 2-0 with a 46-0 win over Flushing High School. Frazier Osborne carried the ball 13 times for 135 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, he had three touchdowns called back because of offensive penalties.

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Speaking of high school sports stars, two Rockaway residents who play for top parochial high schools have been arrested and charged with the shooting of a Rockaway man during a robbery. The two are Marcus Fyall, 16, who is a standout with the Bishop Loughlin basketball team and Lakim Kuster, who plays football for Christ the King. Luster was taken away in handcuffs at half time of the team’s game last Saturday in South Huntington, L.I. They allegedly held up a 45-year-old man on Beach 66 street on August 25. The man recognized Fyall walking down the street last week and called police.

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I’m running long (some might say long-winded) this week, so I’m going to skip the week’s websites. Remember to send comments and complaints to newsie42@aol.com or to hschwach@hotmail.com. Have a good week and safe home.

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