2000-10-07 / Columnists

Short Takes…

It seems to me that those who constantly bad-mouth Rockaway have to take a second look. Those who said that housing was a dead issue in Rockaway because nobody would buy here have to choke on their words. Lots of new housing is being built on the peninsula. Take a look at the area around Bayswater Park, at the in-fill housing in Edgemere, at the brick townhouses nearby Ocean Village, at the homes on the Playland site, at the new townhouses on Shore Front parkway and 92 street, at the new homes in Rockaway Park and Belle Harbor. People are buying those homes as quickly as they can be built and that bodes well for Rockaway’s future.

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I hope that the new park on Beach 116 street opened the day of Vikingfest 2000 will not fade into disuse. John Baxter floated an idea on his cable television program and I think that it is a good one. Baxter wants to build a gazebo as the centerpiece of the site. I can see it now – concerts on summer nights at the gazebo on the bay. It certainly is an idea that some local groups such as the RAC and the Chamber of Commerce should take a look at.

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The inclusion of Bill Bratton into the next mayoral race is an interesting inducement to vote. Bratton had one failing as police commissioner – he got more publicity than the mayor. Bratton is reportedly now an independent, so he has until the end of this month to declare himself as either a Democrat or as a Republican. Word is that he will run as a Republican. Bratton against Hevesi would be a fun race, but not as much fun as Bratton against Sharpton. If Bratton decides to run as a Republican, he will have to face Herman Badillo in the primary. It almost makes it worthwhile registering as a Republican.

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If you want to see what journalism is all about, get a copy of Mike Lupica’s Daily News column from the September 17, 2000 edition. The column is about Rockaway legend Al McGuire and it is one of the best pieces I have ever read.

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The state legislature took all of the powers of school boards away from them because some of them were corrupt. Most of the district’s educational power was vested in the district superintendents. Was it a good trade? It is beginning to look like the power might reside in the wrong place. The former District 29 superintendent, Celestine Miller, a woman who was in the running for the District 27 slot when Brenda Isaacs was chosen, is under investigation for steering millions of dollars to a computer firm whose owner just happened to "sell" her a number of houses dirt cheap. Now, we find that the district 15 superintendent, Frank DeStafano, is under investigation because his district is broke and he spent millions on questionable deals with "consultants" and for raises for his district office staff. In fact, his district office staff went from 49 persons to 67 under his direction. More money for the DO, less for schools. If two or three "bad" school boards called for a reduction of their power, what does two or three "bad" superintendents call for?

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Have you filled out your ferry survey as yet? It seems that survey forms have been mailed to "the entire Rockaway area." I have not yet received mine as yet, but you might have received yours. If so, mail it back and let the powers that be know what you want in terms of a ferry to Manhattan. If you do not receive your survey in the mail, you can pick one up (one to a family please) at a number of Rockaway locations, including Waldbaum’s. Speaking of a ferry, at the same time Rockaway residents are fighting for ferry service, a group of residents in Sag Harbor are fighting to stop a ferry service that would carry passengers between the north and south forks of Long Island. Those residents claim that traffic to and from the ferry site would become a problem. "It would start small," a resident spokesperson said. "But it gets big fast and we don’t want there to be a fleet going in and out." If only that were Rockaway’s problem.

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We have to mourn the loss of Carl Rowan, who died recently at age 75. Rowan was a well-known commentator and nationally known columnist. He was often called "America’s most visible black journalist." He was also a deputy secretary of state in the Kennedy administration. He was also our delegate to the United Nations and ambassador to Finland. He finished his career in government as the director of the USIA before returning to journalism. His credo was simple: "I inform people and expose them to a point of view they wouldn’t ordinarily get." He did his job well and he will be missed.

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Clare Droesch, perhaps the most-sought female high school roundball player in the nation, will be going to Boston College next year. The Christ the King senior, a Rockaway resident, will join her good friend Janelle McManus, another Rockaway resident who graduated from Bishop Kearney last year. Droesch surprised some people with her choice because they expected her to join teammate Sue Bird in UCONN. Wherever the "scoring machine" goes, she will be a superstar.

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the fact that the Golden Venture was going to end up as a reef off the coast of Rockaway. Well, it will have lots of company. A new plan would dump more than 1,000 aged "Redbird" subway cars off our shores to provide another artificial reef for fish. Those are the red subway cars that have become so familiar a sight in our city. The TA sees it as an inexpensive way to dispose of the old cars, but environmentalists are still not sure that it is a good idea.

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Beach Channel High School has won its last two games, but Far Rockaway High School continues to have trouble putting points on the board. Two weeks ago, the Dolphins beat New Dorp 26-0 with Ricky Richardson leading the way. The back rushed for 146 yards and four touchdowns. The Seahorses lost to Evander 35-0. This week, Channel beat Madison 13-6. Sylvanas Mbachu, the team’s quarterback, rushed for 220 yards and completed three of five passes. He had a 50-yard scoring run. Richardson continued to dazzle as well, rushing for 110 yards and one TD. Far Rockaway dropped its third game of the season, losing to Lafayette by a score of 12-0.

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With the demise of Loeb and Mayer, The Wave becomes the peninsula’s oldest continual business. It is tough, however, to drive by the firm’s old home and not see the familiar trucks with the company name and logo. It will be missed.

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I like the idea of New York City getting the summer Olympic games in 2012 because I think that the greatest city in the world deserves the greatest sports event. I am not too concerned about the cost, because all good things cost. I look forward to seeing the Olympic boating events begin from Gateway National Park on the peninsula’s west end. It sure beats the Golden Venture as a sporting event.

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Even the Parks Foundation is embarrassed by the demand for $20 thousand before the new Catholic Museum could use a park for a fundraiser. It wants out of its relationship with the Parks Department. So, the city is setting up a new charity to handle the extortion perpetrated by Henry Stern and his minions. He calls it donation, but a donation that is mandated before something can be done is called extortion by the law and that is what it is, pure and simple. Stern lives by his own rules. There is a strict rule that Central Park’s conservatory cannot be used for wedding receptions. Yet, last week, Mark Masil, Stern’s chief of the natural resources division, was allowed to use the conservatory for his wedding reception – after a $2 thousand donation to the Parks Foundation of course. Stern said that he allowed his employee to use the site because he is a "highly valued worker," and because "..It’s a privilege that we give to someone who’s been a very good public servant for 13 years." I’m sure that there are lots of city workers who are going to be glad to hear that.

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Manhattan might be a summer festival, but not if you have to drive there. I had to go to Park and 67 street last Saturday. Getting there was no problem. Getting off Manhattan Island was another story. First of all, Second avenue (which goes south to the Midtown Tunnel) was blocked off for the Nigerian Day Parade. Now, I like ethnic parades as much as the next person, but there has to be an end to blocked avenues some day. I tried going south on Park. Bumper to bumper! I tried going south on Lexington. Bumper to bumper! I decided to go to the west side on 57 street, which took me the usual half hour. Then south on West street. All was fine until I got to the Battery Tunnel. The DOT has fashioned a traffic pattern to get around the construction in the area that would have been welcomed by the people who ran the Spanish Inquisition. From three lanes to two to one around the World Trade Center. Then around a circle of roads (all one lane) to the ferry building and then back to the tunnel entrance. It took me almost an hour to go from Battery Park City to the tunnel entrance, almost an hour and 45 minutes to go from Park and 67 Street to the tunnel. Remind me next time why I cannot abide driving in Manhattan and I will stay home.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments, complaints and story tips to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week and safe home.


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