2001-07-21 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes by Howard Schwach

Jamaica Bay is in trouble. We all know about the fact that the marsh grass is disappearing at a rapid clip and, if the scientists working on the problem do not come up with a solution, we may have no marsh grass at all in twenty or thirty years. Now we find out that a particularly pugnacious form of algae is taking over as well. Last Monday, The Wave got a call that there was an oil spill in the bay at Bay 38 Street. After some checking, the Department of Environmental Conservation was called and they called the Coast Guard. It seems that spills in the water are taken care of by the Coast Guard and land contamination is taken care of by the Parks Department and it is all coordinated by the DEP, the DEC and other groups. You get the picture. In any case, it turned out not to be oil, but to be this algae, which grows in large sheets and is carried up to shore by the tide. It is deposited on the shore and rots, causing a dark black covering on the shore that looks just like oil and smells as bad. Could the proliferation of the algae have something to do with the disappearing marsh grass? That is for the experts to decide.

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There are rumors bouncing around the West End of the community that say that a large portion of the parking lot at Riis Park will soon become an NYPD impound lot. I know that the lot is never fully used, but I somehow do not believe that it would be a proper use of a national park property.

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Whalamena (how I dislike that name), the whale that once graced the children’s zoo in Central Park and now "graces" our beachfront has been repaired once again. Jonathon Miller, the developer of the new homes in the Beach 98 Street area took pity on the gouged mammal and fixed it up so that it looks better than new. He asks that kids not play "Ahab" with the whale, shooting sticks and stones into its fragile body.

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Mayoral candidate Peter Vallone will be in Rockaway on Tuesday, July 31 for a forum sponsored by The Wave and the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce. The forum, which will begin at noon at the Pier 92 Restaurant on Beach 92 Street and Beach Channel Drive (behind McDonald’s) will include a question and answer period for those who attend. It might be interesting to find out who Vallone is personally endorsing for the City Council seat on the West End. The party has decided formally not to endorse any candidate.

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It is not yet clear which of the myriad of candidates for the two city council seats representing Rockaway filed enough petition signatures to stay in the game. It might be later this week before the Board of Elections has a comprehensive list and then there could be lots of challenges. It might not be until early August before we really know who is in the race and who is not.

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Some of Lew Simon’s people are crowing about the fact that Lew is going to challenge the city council petitions of some of the locals such as Palmer Doyle and Chris Jorge, in an attempt to have them thrown off the ballot. That is an expensive and labor-intensive proposition, but Lew has been known to play fast and loose within the political game. I know that challenges are legal, but they will probably backfire in this case, angering the community and forcing those candidates who are thrown off the ballot and their supporters to work even harder for Lew’s opponents.

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The Caribbean Women’s Health Organization will host a Health Fair at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church on Central Avenue in Far Rockaway on Saturday, August 4. This organization has long been active in Rockaway health issues, particularly in working with the local schools. The fair will begin at noon.

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The Mayor and his gal-pal, Judy Nathan, were seen taking in the Brooklyn Cyclone – Staten Island Yankees game last Sunday evening. The mayor did not look too happy, but that could be because his favorite team’s farm team was losing to the Met’s farm team. You would think that the mayor’s kids would enjoy a minor league game, but they were nowhere to be seen at the game.

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The Cyclones, by the way, are becoming the hot ticket in town in more ways than one. The team’s logo hat, with the Brooklyn Dodger "B" intertwined with the team’s stylized "C" for Cyclones is the biggest selling hat in the city. The team store at Keyspan Park and the team’s retail outlet at the King’s Plaza Mall can’t seem to keep the item in stock. At the same time, tickets for the game are sold out and are being scalped like big league tickets while the tickets for the Staten Island Yankee games go begging. It is interesting to note that the Brooklyn stadium, which seats 7,500, cost $32.8 million to build, while the Staten Island park, which seats 6,500, cost $71 million to build. Land costs are part of the disparity, but there has to be another answer as well as to why taxpayers spent so much on the Staten Island park. The Cyclones will return $510 thousand in rent to the city this year, while the Yankees will return only $250 thousand in rent.

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Tony Weiner is once again on his white horse, tilting at windmills. The FAA has been given the green light to turn on the Doppler radar site at Floyd Bennett Field, and it is about time. The radar is badly needed to keep a plane from literally dropping in on the Rockaway peninsula. Weiner is wrong about continuing his fight to close down the site on the grounds that it does not belong in a national park. The park, first of all, has always been aviation related. Secondly, the radar is in a part of the former airport that was, I believe, excluded from the park jurisdiction when the land was transferred from the city to the Federal Government. As Casey used to say, "you could look it up."

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The House of Representatives last week defeated by a vote of 155-272 an amendment to the agriculture appropriation measure that had been sponsored by Anthony Weiner. The amendment would have put an end to subsidies for wool and mohair farmers in Texas. Most of the House Democrats voted in support of Weiner’s amendment. One did not. He was Representative Greg Meeks, who is our representative on the East end of the peninsula. It seems strange that he would support subsidies for Mohair farmers when he does not support subsidies for a ferry that would take Rockaway residents to Manhattan, but Greg is now in Puerto Rico, visiting the bombing range at Viequez and you know how much more important mohair and Puerto Rico are than Rockaway.

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


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