2000-09-02 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes


by Howard Schwach

It seems to me that it is disingenuous on the part of Noach Dear to accept the Republican and Conservative lines in the upcoming election against Tony Weiner and still enters the Democratic primary. When I lived in small-town Connecticut I decided to run for the school board. I was a registered Democrat and went to the caucus to ask for their support. Because my family had not lived in the town for three generations and because I was a "New York Jew" (I actually heard several people verbalize that) I was rejected. I decided to run as an independent and did. I lost, but got the most votes ever earned by an independent in that town. A few weeks later I got a letter from the state registrar of voters informing me that I could no longer be a Democrat for a period of five years because I had run as an Independent. I thought that it was a mistake, but that was the law. Now we come to Dear. If he believes in the Republican ideals and wants to run as a Republican, then he has no place on the Democratic ballot in either the primary or the general election. Republican ideals and Conservative ideals are very different from Democratic ideals. He cannot be all of them and I think that the voters should make him choose by rejecting him in the Democratic primary.

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It is interesting to note that Dear, who is presently the chair of the City Council’s transportation committee, has raised more than one million dollars to finance his campaign, much of it from people in the industry and from usually-republican causes. Weiner, the incumbent, has raised slightly more than $800 thousand. Unfortunately, money talks and integrity walks in the modern political campaign. It is interesting that some local Democrats (and some local newspaper people as well) have been seen campaigning with Dear and some Republicans, including Al Stabile, have been talking up Tony Weiner.

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Why was the Parks Department busy cutting down dune grass on the beach at Beach 117 street Monday night? The grass should remain and it should propagate and then we might have real natural dunes on the beach and we would lose much less sand than we do presently. What Parks should be doing is leaving the natural grass alone.

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We spent the last week or so touring New England, spending a few days in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. It has a picturesque harbor and it could be a model for what Rockaway could have been. A quick read of the town’s weekly newspaper (the Boothbay Register), however, reveals that the area has many of the same problems as Rockaway. One article on page one trumpets "Residents Upset Over Design of Knickerbocker Boat Launch." That story details the fact that "several" residents voiced their concern over a boat ramp in a town where there are already dozens of boat ramps and several hundred boats ranging from 16 foot sailboats to million dollar yachts. Why the complaint about one more? The several residents who complained were afraid that "amateur boat owners" would not be able to get their trailers onto the ramp because of its sharp turn. A second story detailed the battle to get a bypass built on the one road into the harbor so that it would bypass Wiscasset. I have to tell you that Wiscasset has fewer people than Wavecrest Gardens or Dayton Towers. Those who complain say that Maine is over promoting itself and that the local area should cut down on facilities that draw tourists (such as myself) so that locals could have the roads to themselves. Does that sound familiar?

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I found another truism on my trip. If you build it and people can shop there, then they will come by the thousands. Two of our stops were at retail malls, places where shopping and restaurants abound. Nobody had ever heard of Kitery, Maine until the first outlet mall was built there. Several other malls quickly followed (including three separate Tanger Outlets). Today, tens of thousands of people stop in Kitery to shop and eat. The second mall was further north, at Freeport, Maine. Freeport was famous as the home of L.L. Bean. The company has a store there that is so big it includes a trout-fishing pond inside the building. People began to stop at Freeport simply for L.L. Bean and the town fathers quickly took note of that fact. Now, there are literally dozens of stores of every stripe (including my favorite --– the Mangy Moose). Both of these towns are sited on Route One, a two-lane road that meanders through the state. Local people do not seem to be complaining that there is too much traffic. In fact, there are "Help Wanted" signs on almost every store in each of the malls. No unemployment there! More than quarter of a million people visit L.L. Bean alone each year. According to the local Chamber of Commerce, an average visitor shops in 5.3 stores and leaves more than $275 dollars in purchases and in restaurant fees when they move on. Nobody seems unhappy about those numbers, least of all the Chamber of Commerce.

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Which leads me to my next point. Our Chamber of Commerce has a new and dynamic leadership. Both Liz Sulik and John LePorre have been community activists for years and both know how the game is played. Why can’t they contact the people from Tanger and ask them to take a look at the Arverne Urban Renewal site. There are 183 acres of land available – more than enough for stores and parking. Don’t let the nattering nabobs of negativity tell you that people will not come to Rockaway for a good wholesale mall. They come from all over the East to Freeport and from all over Long Island to Riverhead. They would come from Brooklyn and Queens and Staten Island and Long Island. Don’t let them tell you that we don’t have the infrastructure to handle large crowds. We have been handling large beach crowds for more than one hundred years. Don’t let them tell you that the site is waiting for Techndome. We will never see Technodome -- not in our lifetime. Perhaps Tanger does not want our site, but I think that they would jump at a waterfront site in the largest metropolitan area in the world. They have a saying in golf: Never up, never in. At least it will be worth a try to contact them and see what they have to say.

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The Vikings are coming, the Vikings are coming. Those who want to get a head start on the festivities should get into a good search engine such as Yahoo or iwon.com and type in the word "Vikings." You will be amazed at what you get. I was, and there are too many to write about. Pick the site that best suits your needs and surf away.

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Most of the daily newspapers who covered Al Sharpton’s demonstration in Washington, D.C. used a picture of a demonstrator named Carol Taylor. They failed to point out that Taylor is one of Sharpton’s regular professional agitators. I have seen her (and taken her picture) at the protests for the Rockaway Five, the march on Joe Hynes home in Breezy Point and the march to Long Beach to protest the beating of a black man on the boardwalk. Many of the demonstrators you see regularly with Sharpton are of the professional variety.

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Lots of Rockaway residents are angry at Waldbaum’s, but that is nothing new. The supermarket first posted a guard to insure that parkers were utilizing the supermarket. That is fine, but it turned ugly when people left the supermarket, put their groceries in their cars and then walked to another site, such as the post office or the Chinese restaurant. They were told that they could not remain in their spots, that they had to move out of the lot to run their other errands. Then, the supermarket blocked the gate between its lot and the municipal parking lot. That forced those who were walking between the market and Beach 116 Street to walk all the way around on Beach Channel Drive. There is no reason why shoppers cannot park in the Waldbaum’s lot and utilize other stores and there certainly is no reason for that gate to be locked. I am sure that the supermarket will tell us that they have to stop dfd’s from parking in their lot, but those days are almost over. Let’s be a good neighbor.

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The mosquito magnets installed earlier in the summer seem to be working – they have reportedly trapped thousands of mosquitoes in the past two weeks. That is not enough, however. Trapping thousands of mosquitoes in Rockaway is akin to removing a thousand grains of sand from Rockaway Beach. There are millions still left. The city plans to install ten more mosquito magnets on the peninsula over the next week or so, but it will take spraying to really do the job and that will not happen because it is no longer politically correct.

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The latest demand of the politically correct, by the way, is the most ludicrous yet. Young women in Sweden, Norway and Germany are demanding that men sit down when they urinate. They made that demand because "a man standing up to urinate is triumphing in his masculinity and, by extension, is degrading women." I can’t wait for some group in New York City to get a hold on this one and push a new law through the city council. I am not sure, however, how the law could be enforced, but I am sure some group out there will think of something.

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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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