2000-07-15 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

The worst of the environmentalist movement can be seen in the Dubos Point story. Dubos Point is a spit of land that leaves Arverne and points out into the bay. More than 10 years ago I joined most of the Rockaway luminaries in riding by board from Beach Channel High School across the bay to the point to dedicate it as a "wildlife sanctuary." Bernie Blum and the two members of his Friends of Rockaway had been pushing for that designation for years. When it finally came, the larger environmental groups left Blum and his group out in the cold, but that is another story. In any case, the Parks Department took over the land and contracted with the Audibon Society to manage the land (much the same deal was made for Bayswater Point Park). In the intervening years, the Point became a dumping ground and a mosquito breeding ground. Audibon recently gave up and refused to renew its contract with Parks. Now, it is up to Parks to clean the land up but that group admits that it has neither the resources nor the money to do the job correctly. Perhaps the land should have been turned over to a developer (gasp!) who would have used the land for the betterment of the community. Perhaps a boat landing or a water-related public facility could have been built on the spot. The environmentalists, however, fight for every inch of wetland even when they know that nobody will take care of it once it is protected. That has to change. Let’s start thinking about using our bayfront for recreation and light manufacturing.

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A similar battle goes on at Fort Tilden. That battle is between the environmentalists, who want to keep the land as a pristine wilderness, and historians who want people to be able to visit the old gun batteries and learn a bit out our history. As you would probably figure, I stand with the historians. A visit to Battery Harris could be as interesting as a visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor and could draw as many visitors. All it takes is some restoration and some publicity. The National Park Service certainly has the expertise to do those two things.

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A small article in Newsday caught my eye last week. Long Beach was holding its annual "By the Sea Arts and Crafts Festival" on several blocks of boardwalk. It promised "250 artists and craftspeople, clowns, jugglers, stilt walkers and face painters." That made me think of the annual RMAC Festival that is held outside of Gateway each year and an idea began to percolate. Why doesn’t the RMAC think about doing one of two things: Move the yearly festival to the boardwalk and move it from September to a summer month; or add another festival during the summer months. The RMAC festival, which was at one time in the park itself, has become somewhat smaller since the move and it seems that fewer people attend each year. The move to a summer festival on the boardwalk might be just what the doctor ordered. At the very least, it is something to think about for future years.

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I have become addicted over the years to WFAN Radio whenever I am in the car. I was one of those sorry to see "The Sweater and the Schmoozer" go off the air, although Steve Sommers has happily returned. Mike and the Mad Dog make the sport’s year complete. This week, listening to the station provided a plus. I happened to tune in just as Rockaway resident Gary Gliboff won a 2000 Volkswagen painted in New York Yankee livery. It was an exciting few seconds when Gary put his chosen key in the ignition at Manhattan’s ESPN Zone and waited for it to fire. It did, and Gary takes the car home. Congratulations! We look forward to seeing you drive it around Rockaway.

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Speaking of cars, I have noticed a problem aside from the muni meters that has popped up on Beach 116 street. It seems that many local residents are driving the newer and larger SUV’s called "carry-alls." They are much longer than regular cars, more like light trucks than cars. I was parked next to one the other day and it was "down-traffic" from me. I began to pull out, looking out my rear window for oncoming traffic and soon realized that it was impossible to see that traffic around the truck until I was almost all the way out onto the street. Later, I saw a small accident when a person pulling out next to a large SUV pulled out into traffic and was hit by another car going south on Beach 116 street. I heard the car owner tell the one who hit him that he could not see him coming because of the truck he was parked next to. We will see more of that as more people buy the larger SUV’s. Perhaps the DOT will have to begin to think about banning the larger "carry-alls" from parking on the strip. Personally speaking, I hope it does not come to that.

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If you have children, rush out and get a copy of the Chamber of Commerce’s new Rockaway Funbook and meet Seamore the Sea Gull. Steve Yaeger, the artist who did the book, deserves lots of congratulations and Liz Sulik (the organization’s president elect) and the others who worked hard to make it a reality deserve a well done! The book provides hours of fun and learning for Rockaway youngsters.

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As a person who works in the system, I am tired of reading all of the stories about how the school system is failing to get kids who need school to attend the summer session. It is not the schools that are failing the kids in this regard, it is their parents. Every parent whose child was "promotion in doubt" was notified a number of times beginning in January (prior to the midterm grades) and ending last month. Notices were sent home with kids, mailed, mailed "return receipt requested," and mailed again. Parents were called towards the end of June and they were called the last day of school. They were called the first day of summer school. While it is possible that an individual parent did not get the notification any of those times, I would find it hard to believe that many did not. If they chose not to send their kid to school, or if the kid is cutting and the parent does not respond to that situation (every parent was notified if their kid did not show up), then it is the parent’s fault, not the schools’.

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Those who want to cool off on Beach 116 street with a frozen treat have a new place to do it. Sammy, the owner of the Oriental House on the strip, tells me that he now sells the largest assortment of both American and Chinese ice creams. Stop in for some traditional Hershey’s ice cream or for some more exotic Chinese flavors. You’ll be glad that you did.

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Some people recently e-mailed me concerned that the Beach 102 street "Sands Point" office complex had somehow been derailed. No work has been done on the project in many months and there was the usual Rockaway skepticism about such projects ever being completed. Barbara Morris, the broker for the project, has assured me that building would soon begin anew. She assures us that construction was slated to resume two weeks ago and that this is just a small weather delay.

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The magazine that got the Schumer-D’Amato race right now says that Rick Lazio is now a 15-14 favorite to win the election against Hillary Clinton. At the start of the race, Clinton was a small favorite. The odds shifted to 50-50 just prior to Giuliani’s dropout. Now, Lazio is ahead for the first time.

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Is Al Stabile the odd man out in the borough president race? The last time I heard him speak (he does not come to Rockaway very often anymore) he said that he was in the race to the end. The Republican Party, however, seems to be headed towards pushing City Councilman Michael Abel for the job. He will probably be running against Democrat Sheldon Leffler for the job according to all the political "insiders." That leaves Stabile without a job come a year from December, when term limits kick in for the local pol. All of the Queens city council delegation of 11 Democrats and three Republicans will be out of work on December 31, 2001. Some say that it will make it harder for the council to do its job. I ask what that job is and look forward to an entirely different crew.

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As an aside, the Chamber of Commerce has just named Stabile as its "Citizen of the Year." The only question I can ask is "Why?" I know that Stabile provides member item funds for the group and for other groups in Rockaway, but there has to be more to being a citizen of the year than providing operating funds.

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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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