2000-06-17 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The Parks Department continues to tell us that they can’t put trashcans on the boardwalk because the pick-up trucks are too heavy to ride on the boards. When I left my building the other day at 6:30 in the morning, however, there was truck 840Q sitting on the boardwalk. It pulled away and drove westward. Why was it on the boardwalk? Why couldn’t it have been used to pick up garbage? Who knows! It is really a dilemma. Last Saturday I bought a hot dog from the Sand Box and ate it as I walked home. By the time I got to Beach 118 street I had finished the food and was left with the paper that it was served on and with some napkins. What to do? I could have done what I saw everybody else doing, just throw the trash on the board and watch it blow off onto the area between the boards and the houses that border it. I held it however, until I got home. The Parks Department tells me that I could have walked down onto the beach and thrown it in a basket located there. Circumstances would have kept me from doing that in any case, but the question is why should I have to? Put the baskets on the boardwalk nearby the ramps from the beach to the boardwalks and let the trucks ride on the beach. They can stop and the workers can get off the trucks, unload the basket and them move on. Something has to be done or we will be knee-deep in garbage by July 4.

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The old courthouse on Beach 92 street and Beach Channel drive is some sort of symbol of Rockaway’s demise. Over the years there has been lots of talk of the revitalization of the courthouse and the area it once served. It has never happened. Now, there is a Five Towns developer interested in the site. He has put in a proposal for the site that would include offices and a "town hall." Some of the local agencies such as the local community board have shown interest in moving to the site should the proposal ever be realized. That is the plus side. As with everything in Rockaway, there is a down side as well. First of all, the developer wants to wait until the entire site is rented prior to doing the necessary and massive restoration. You can’t blame him for that, but it is a fact of life in Rockaway that there may never be the necessary interest in the site until it is restored. Secondly, there is no parking on the site. The prospective developer reportedly touched base with the owner of the empty gas station across Beach Channel drive from the site, but he wants too much for the developer to turn it into a parking lot. Thirdly, making the site a town hall would centralize all of the politicians and political offices in town, but it would also dry up such buildings as 1931 Mott -- buildings that now house those offices. What will happen? It is still far from being a done deal, but something will be done there some day and the courthouse may yet become the symbol for Rockaway’s revitalization.

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If it is true that Queens Borough President Claire Shulman is the person holding back the sale of the little league field on Cross Bay boulevard to the Broad Channel Athletic Association, then she should be immediately impeached, taken out, tied to a seat and made to watch every game of the Queens Kings. For 35 years, the BCAC has been paying rent on the site and has never missed a payment. It has improved the field not through grants or tax money, but through sweat equity and volunteerism. If ever a group deserved a property on which children can learn teamwork, independence and hard work, it is the BCAC. There are lots of political ties involved here, as The Wave editorial last week pointed out. That should not matter, not where kids are concerned. Tom Gebert is a nice guy and he would probably make a good legislator some day. If he is responsible, however, for using Melinda Katz and her connections to Shulman to keep the kids from getting the property so that the Knights of Columbus can keep a foothold on a portion of the property then he’d better get out of town because that will kill him politically in both Broad Channel and Rockaway. The truth might be more insidious, however. There are people in Broad Channel with strong ties to Shulman. It would seem to me that they could get the job done. The fact that they don't do it led me to believe that they are also part of the problem. I really do not care what the politics are or what the BCAC did to anger the BP or her cohorts. The land must go to the kids. Period!

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Speaking of Broad Channel, the community will soon have its own zip code. It sounds silly to me, but it is important to the community, so I guess that it is OK that they don’t want to be part of Rockaway anymore. The code will be Broad Channel 11693. The negotiations for the change, with Congressman Weiner reportedly in the forefront, took more than three years. What a victory! Perhaps Broad Channel 11693 will one day become a television show like Beverly Hills 90210.

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Be on the lookout along the beachfront for rare female pygmy sperm whales. One of the species floated up in Far Rockaway last week and experts were amazed because they are rarely seen in these waters. If you see one, notify the Parks Police.

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Rockaway’s nightmare is that it will rain one Sunday about 4:30 in the afternoon and a car going towards Brooklyn on the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge will get stuck in mid-span. That would tie up traffic from the bridge to Beach 108 street on both Beach Channel drive and Rockaway Beach boulevard and would effectively gridlock the peninsula from one end to the other. The MTA says that it has wreckers stationed on both sides of the bridge to deal with such an eventuality, but things can go wrong and it would not take much for the nightmare to materialize. The MTA needs a better plan to deal with the eventuality and it should meet with representatives of the Rockaway community to detail those plans before the summer takes full-hold.

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How come the feds and the Brooklyn borough president have come up with a $25 million plan to revitalize Coney Island and bring it back to its glory of old, but there is not a plan to spend even one penny to revitalize Rockaway? Could it be that our BP and the feds would just as soon see us stay just the way we are – a dumping ground for all of the people they don’t want to put anyplace else.

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Congratulations to those high school students who were chosen by Newsday as the "Top of the Class." Among those who won the award were Jean Paule Christe of Far Rockaway High School, a Far Rockaway resident; Ching Yi Lam of Beach Channel High School, a Howard Beach resident; and Jacquelyn Ryan of Stella Maris High School, a Belle Harbor resident. Well done!

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments and complaints to Newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week and safe home.

 


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