1999-11-06 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was created as another political agency. It often takes on the same tasks as the NYPD and it does them far worse than the police agency. Representatives from that agency were in Rockaway last week to talk about evacuating the peninsula in case of such a natural disaster as a hurricane. According to the agency, those who live west of Beach 129 street would go to Brooklyn College, while those who live from Beach 128 street to Beach 66 street would go to Aqueduct Racetrack. Those who live east of Beach 66 street would go to Belmont Racetrack. The OEM must love racetracks, even though most of the infrastructure in those "refuges" is outdoors. It is clear to anyone who regularly drives in the rain that the routes to all of those three places will be long under water when the storm hits. Flatbush Avenue north of avenue U becomes a swimming pool in a heavy rain. Ditto for Broad Channel and Cross Bay boulevard just north of Broad Channel. Ditto again for the Rockaway turnpike anywhere around Peninsula boulevard, not to mention Snake road (Better know as Brookville boulevard), the main route to Belmont, which is under water even in a slight rain. Unless everybody leaves two days early (exactly what the OEM plans, but not very realistic), nobody will make the shelters.

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Health benefits for hospital employees have been restored at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, but for how long? The hospital has promised to pay about $200 thousand a month to the employee’s welfare fund, but that is just a drop in the bucket in comparison to what it owes, and it is not clear whether it can keep the payments up for any length of time. This might be only a bandaide to keep the worker’s happy and working until a permanent solution such as a sale or bankruptcy can be arranged. There is a spiral involved in this process. The more negative publicity the hospital gets, the fewer people who opt to use the facility. The fewer people who use it, the less money it makes. That is a shame, because it is still a decent hospital, staffed by hard-working doctors and staff. Many people, however, are opting to have their elective surgery in other hospital, fearful that emergency care will not be available should the need arise.

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The courts have ruled that the mayor cannot destroy the Neponsit Home without the city council’s permission. The mayor, however, wants to go ahead with the demolition and will seek a ruling from a higher court. What the daily’s that reported the story have forgotten is that the mayor originally wanted to tear the facility down not to build a park, as they reported, but something entirely different. While nobody has reported on what the mayor really wanted to do, it is believed locally that the mayor has promised the land to one of his campaign supporters for a hotel. That has never been proven, but it seems strange that Paul Ariola, who wants to build a hotel in Rockaway, gave up his options on another piece of land just before the retreat from Neponsit. It was only when the land’s deed revealed that it had to be either a park or a health facility that the mayor decreed that the land would become parkland. Oh, what a web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

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I agree with The Wave editorial about sending kids to local schools, but the new editor is "blowing into the wind." Again, it is a question of perception and the perception, particularly on the West End, is that the schools are not worthy enough for their kids. Until that perception changes, kids will continue to go to schools in Brooklyn that are no better than those in Rockaway. The grass is always greener, but it usually isn’t when you dig deep enough.

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The best Halloween shows in town were the haunted house sponsored by the Broad Channel Volunteers and the show put on at Gateway National Park at Fort Tilden. You have to try both next year. Your kids will love them both.

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Those who predicted that the new housing going up in Rockaway would be a bust and would wind up as "welfare housing" when they didn’t sell have to eat their words. The houses are selling like the proverbial hot cakes and more will soon join them. This could well be the beginning of the Rockaway revitalization we have all been hoping for.

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The man who guided me through and around more accidents and tie-ups than I care to count is going. Neal Busch has been the helicopter reporter for Newsradio 88 since it went all news in 1967, more than 30 years ago. The station has retired him because they have decided that their chopper is just too expensive to keep in the air. We will all miss him and his succinct reports. I always have liked his description of his job. "I have one of the most unique jobs on Earth," he said, "raising into the sky each morning to witness the awakening of the greatest city in the world."

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The success of the Yankees both in the box office and on the field will make it difficult for Boss George to move the team to Manhattan. For the first time in its history, the Bronx bombers drew more than three million customers, giving death to the lie that fans would not travel to the "crime-ridden" Bronx for games. Even Rudy Giuliani, who desperately wanted the team in Manhattan, has changed his thinking. "I think that it would be better for the city to build a new stadium there (in the Bronx)," Rudy said. Boss George, however, is reserving judgment until his merger with the New Jersey Nets is completed. Perhaps he will bring them to the Bronx as well.

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Speaking of the Yankees, the Daily News recently published a Yankee Team of the Century. It will give those of us who already miss baseball a chance to argue well into spring training for next season. I don’t agree with all of their picks, so where I disagree, I put my choices in parenthesis. Let me know what you think. Manager: Joe Torre (I would have to go with Casey Stengel, who won ten championships, not four); Catcher: Yogi Berra; First Base: Lou Gherig; Second Base: Bobby Richardson (I really like Richardson, but Willie Randolph was better); Shortstop: Derek Jeter (Jeter will be the best, but Rizzuto still gets my vote until Derek is around for a few more years); Third Base: Craig Nettles (Wade Boggs? Andy Carey? Jumping Joe Dugan?); Right Field: Babe Ruth; Center Field: Joe Dimaggio; Right Field: Mickey Mantle (you don’t think that I could forget the Mick, do you/); Starting Pitcher: Whitey Ford (Allie Reynolds? Vic Raschi? Lefty Gomez?); Relief Pitcher: Mariano Rivera (Joe Paige? Sparky Lyle? Goose Gossage?). That’s if for the News and for my choices. See what you can do with the lineup and e-mail me at newsie42@aol.com with your choices.

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Frazier Osborne, the star running back for the Beach Channel High School Dolphins, posted his sixth 100-yard game this season in a 12-6 win over previously undefeated Columbus High School. He went 118 yards on 18 carries and helped to set up both short touchdowns by Quarterback Sylvanis Mbuchu. The Dolphin’s win might put them in the playoffs.

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Randy Cohen writes a column called "The Ethicist" in the Sunday New York Times magazine section. He answers ethical questions posed by readers, and I usually agree with him. Last week, he angered me with the following in answer to a question about a man who refused to work and therefore his kids got a free ride to college. "All you have said about him is that he hasn’t earned as much money as he possibly could. Any cosmetic surgeon or stockbroker could level the same charge against every fourth grade teacher or firefighter or Vincent van Gogh." Somebody should tell Cohen that money is not everything and that people pick their professions for many reasons. For society’s sake, money should be the last consideration, but it is often the first. I have to believe that firefighters and teachers are more important to society than either stockbrokers or cosmetic surgeons.

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Al Sharpton is angry because Hillary Clinton is not coming to him on bended knee, asking for his support. Chalk one up for her. If the campaign diary of one of Ruth Messinger’s minions is to be believed, money, lots of money, is involved in Sharpton’s support. I am glad that she is not kowtowing to Sharpton and Bill Bradley’s campaign is diminished by his ties to the portly Rev.

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Websites of the Week: The Brittanica site I spoke about last week has temporarily closed down because it had so many hits the site could not keep up with them. I have been comparison-shopping for a digital camera in the web and found some comparison bargain sites that might be of interest. Try any of the following: www.20-20.com, www.rusure.com, www.jango.com or ww.mysimon.com. They will be worth your time. Need some information specialists to find what you need to know. Different from other search engines is the Mining Company, which can be found at www.about.com. That’s it for this week. Send comments and complaints to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week, and safe home.

 

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