2001-05-05 / Columnists

Short Takes

by Howard Schwach

by Howard Schwach

I was on the beach last Sunday with my family and my grandson. We were flying a kite and digging in the sand and having a great time running on the beach, but one thing kept intruding. The beach was full of dog poop. The people who walk their dogs on the beach and do not clean it up should realize that feces carries with it Rotavirus, which can kill infants in children. More than 100,000 children in the United States are hospitalized each year from Rotavirus. If you really believe that it is OK for you to kill a child because you are too lazy to clean up after your dog, keep on doing what you have been doing. If, however, you think that killing a child is wrong, then stop using the beach as a dumping ground or at least, clean up after your animal. The life you save might be some innocent child’s.

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The newest scandal developing in the city government sector concerns our city housing projects, particularly those in Rockaway. City officials have reportedly admitted that they have been "warehousing" hundreds of subsidized apartments in both the Edgemere and Arverne projects. While more than 140,000 people are on the waiting list for such apartments, at least 1,025 apartments citywide were kept from the housing market. The charge is that the apartments were kept empty as part of a large-scale attempt to award renovation contracts for those apartments. One apartment in Edgemere has reportedly been empty since May of 1993 – almost eight years. A Housing Authority spokesperson says that the two projects are undergoing massive $200 million rehabilitation. "An entire neighborhood is being upgraded," that spokesperson, says. Many of the apartments have been empty for five or six years.

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The Daily News says that City Councilman Al Stabile is in poor health as he goes into his run for Borough President. In the Borough Politic column, the paper says, "…Stabile, the lone GOP’er running for borough president has serious health problems of his own. Stabile, wearing dark glasses, told a meeting of Republican leaders that he is being treated for a growth behind his eye. Stabile, who is seriously overweight, sat through his comments, one attendee said. Stabile said that he will keep running for Queens borough hall. GOP leaders are not so sure." Perhaps that will explain why Stabile has not been seen in Rockaway lately. Not that he was seen on the peninsula often since he closed his officer here shortly after being reelected.

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There is lots of talk that, despite Noach Dear’s statement that the Rockaway ferry is not a commuter ferry and probably never will be, some city pols are looking to garner Rockaway votes by pumping some money into a ferry subsidy. Peter Vallone, who is running for mayor, might soon be on board with some money to kick off the bidding. A number of mayoral candidates are reported as "studying the question," but they could do nothing until after Election Day, presupposing their election. Vallone is the only one who can do something about it now. There is some question, however, as to whether the city has the money to do it alone. In the ultimate, it might take a combination of city, state and federal money to bring the cost down to the point where Rockaway commuters could use the service on a regular basis.

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I hope that the National Park Service is successful in attracting a major sports complex to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. I have seen the complex that was developed at the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan and it is a marvel that addresses lots of needs for both kids and adults. I know that there will be lots of opposition to the plan because a sports complex is not an "aviation related" facility, but Rockaway needs the sports and entertainment complex much more than it needs empty runways and crumbling hangers. I know that Lew Simon and other rabble-rousers who have no idea of what is going on are going to get the community to protest and demand that the NPS find something more historic to place in Bennett, but I have to tell you that I was stationed there (in VR-831) and did my boot camp there when it was an active Naval Air Station and have emotional ties to the base. I still would like to see something good for Rockaway on the site. I doubt that Lew ever entered the field when it was active and yet he cries "history as if the field had some meaning to him."

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The made for HBO movie, "61*" is another example of recreating history. I remember that summer well. I was a student at Post College in Westbury, but I still lived in Rockaway and managed to get to a number of games that summer. I was a big Yankee fan because my father had started taking me to games when I was ten years old (the 1950 season) and I enjoyed the Casey Stengel years, with all of the championships. By the summer of 1961 I was 21 years old and a major fan. That’s why I know that some of the gimmicks in the movie did just not ring true. For example, the talk of Mantle having a poor season in 1960 seems ridiculous when you find that he hit 40 homeruns the year before. As Casey once said, "you could look it up." I did realize that Mantle was the hometown hero, the golden boy and that he was also a budding alcoholic. I constantly read of his nighttime parties with Ford, Billy Martin, Hank Bauer (my favorite Yankee) and others. I knew that Maris was not that kind of hero and the papers played Mantle up and Maris down. I doubt, however, that anybody ever threw a chair at him from the stands. If I remember correctly, the chairs were not detachable. The movie did, however, convey the tenor of the times and the differences between those ballplayers (who had to work off season to stay alive) and today’s pampered starts.

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You can track manned spacecraft whirling around the Earth in real time on the Internet by logging into the NASA site at http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/

realdata/sightings/help.html.

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A number of bus drivers for the Green Bus Lines wrote to tell us how wrong we were in the editorial The Wave ran a few weeks ago. Some of the drivers called us names and intimated that we did not have a grasp of the facts. I wonder why, then, we continue to get complaints about the service the line provides week after week.

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A really fun fundraiser will take place at Beach Channel High School in June 9 and 10. The Relay for life will raise money for the American Cancer Society’s fight against breast cancer, but it should be a fun evening as well. Teams of residents will take part. While most of the team is barbequing, sleeping or having a good time, at least one of the team’s numbers will be walking around the track. There must be at least one member of each team walking the track at all times, day and night. Those who are interested in joining the festivities can log into the organization’s website at

www.cancer.org.

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Parks Commissioner Henry Stern is not sure that he will be able to staff Rockaway beaches this summer. In a recent letter to Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Stern admitted that fact. "I understand and share your disappointment in the fact that a shortage of lifeguards forces us to close certain sections of the beach during the summer season," Stern wrote. "Please be assured that we will continue to do our best to attract lifeguards and to ensure that the next beach season at Rockaway is successful." With a little over a month to go, we can only hope that Stern’s best is good enough, but we have our doubts based on past experiences. It is still hard for those who live in Rockaway to understand why Stern chopped funds for a training center at Far Rockaway High School, close by the beach. when he had lots of money to open another in Astoria, far from any real water.

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I continue to get letters from those in Broad Channel who believe that it is righteous to save parking spaces because they are put upon by "Rockaway people" who only come to their neighborhood to use the subway. They I get letters from Rockaway people who complain that they have to save spaces because they are taken by the DFD’s who come from Brooklyn and only want to use the beach.

I would hope that everybody realizes that they are talking about public parking spaces on public streets and they belong to everybody, including the people from Rockaway and the people from (gasp!) Brooklyn.

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

editor@rockawave.com. Have a good week and safe home.


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