2001-08-11 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes by Howard Schwach

There was recently a meeting between local and state environmental groups held in Broad Channel to discuss the disappearing marsh grass situation. The Daily News was invited and did a story on the meeting and the problem. Other papers were invited as well. The Wave was not, because Dan Mundy, who heads the local civic association’s environmental committee, does not like us very much. He once told me that The Wave is good for only one thing, and that as a toilet paper replacement. I believe he is angry with us because we did not like the fact that he and others in the community wanted to take the little league ball field away from the kids and give it to an adult religious group. He is entitled to his opinion of this paper, but that does not mean that he has the right to cut us off from legitimate news stories. Somebody in the community ought to tell him that and do it strongly.

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My family and I had an enjoyable evening at Pier 92 recently. We sat out on the deck for a few hours, enjoying drinks and dinner and both the setting and the food were excellent. It is nice to see Dan Tubridy back in business and at the top of his game.

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There is lots of talk about "Rockaway City," going around, particularly by candidate John Baxter and those who support him. It is an interesting and exciting idea when you first hear about it, but think about it for a moment. How will "Rockaway City" support itself? Where is the tax base that would support schools, police department, a fire department, EMS, water? Those who are enamored of the idea tell me that there will be no problem for three reasons: The city owes Rockaway millions of dollars, perhaps billions, for all the years that it has held us in "bondage;" that JFK Airport is within the boundaries of Rockaway City and that we would take over the airport and that Nassau County would be glad to accept the 100,000, largely Democratic people who live in Rockaway. That is all bunk. If you think that the city is going to give up billions of dollars or JFK Airport without a decade-long fight, you don’t understand the world or reality. If you think that Nassau County is waiting with open arms for the city housing projects and senior citizen’s housing that dots Rockaway and Rockaway’s failing schools, then you are even more in denial. A fun idea, no doubt, but a little reality is needed here. Those who are pushing for Rockaway City concept should be made to explain, in rational terms, how it would work in the real world. Tell us, John, how would Rockaway City raise the taxes to keep us viable?

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There is talk that the National Park Service has asked the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to turn its Station Rockaway over to Gateway National Park for use as a ferry dock, restaurants, etc. While I would love to see new facilities at the old station and while I understand that the USCG has abandoned Rockaway anyway, I still worry, particularly in light of what has been happening in and around our waters of late, about a lack of coast guard presence. I say this even though I know that NYPD harbor and aviation units have picked up the slack admirably. We still need USCG for the big jobs, and their response time from Westhampton or from Sandy Hook to Rockaway is just too long.

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I tend to look at third party candidates as if they did not really exist simply because they have no chance of winning. To my way of thinking, then, they are just in the race to have a voice, to make a personal statement. This is certainly true of John Baxter, who is running on the Independence Party line, and I suspect it is also true of Robert Curran, who is running on the Green Party line for the city council. Does Robert have a chance of winning on that party line? I do not think that even he believes that he has a chance. Such is politics. If you want to win, you have to be a candidate for either the Democratic or Republican parties.

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Rumors abound around the Beach 92 Street area that the builder of the town houses on the Playland site and elsewhere is about to build high-rise low-income apartment houses on the old PS 44 school site. That is not really the story, however. The Rockaway Beach Civic Association tells us that the new buildings will be three-story garden apartments housing one, two and three-bedroom rental apartments. The rents will be "market-rate," however and there will be no subsidies by any governmental agencies. Hopefully, that information will assuage the minds of those who believed that they were being ‘dumped on" with low-rental, city-subsidized housing.

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If you really want to see how much each of the candidates has raised and how much each has spent, there is a new database for you and it can be accessed at www.cfb.nyc.ny.us. That is the site for the Campaign Finance Board and it holds some interesting information.

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Democratic candidate for mayor Fernando Ferrer will be in Rockaway (Pier 92 at noon) for a forum on Monday, August 13. One of the things that I want to ask him about is his advertisements in the Hispanic media, targeted towards Hispanic voters. In those ads he says that he is "one of us," and that is why Hispanic voters should cast their ballots for him. Suppose that Mike Bloomberg has run an ad for the Jewish community, stating that they should vote for him because he "is one of us." That would have caused a scandal that probably would have pushed him out of the race.

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Having said that, I have to say that Helen Marshall, who is running for Borough President, did much the same thing. She said in one of her ads that she had been "endorsed by our (the emphasis is mine) community’s leaders." All of the community leaders that she then named were African-American.

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


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