2002-04-06 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk by Howard Schwach

From the Editor’s Desk by Howard Schwach

Time flies when you’re having fun. It is hard to believe, but this week marks the first year anniversary of my being appointed Managing Editor of The Wave.

As somebody recently told me, "It was a hell of a year to take over a Rockaway paper."

It has been a hell of a year indeed.

The two main stories over the last year have to be the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and its impact on Rockaway. That has been an ongoing story for the last seven months and will probably continue to be so.

The second story, if one can call it that, is, of course, the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into Belle Harbor.

I still get the shivers when I think of the radio call over the police net that morning.

"Central, we have a heavy aircraft down in the vicinity of Beach 129 Street, get a mobilization going."

My son and his family live on Beach 129 Street, and as I drove down Rockaway Beach Boulevard that morning seconds after the plane hit, my only thought was to figure out if the smoke was to the south or the north of RBB.

The crash story will remain active until the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) tells us the truth about why the plane came down in our community. We still live with the question of planes flying over the peninsula despite FAA assurances that it will not happen as often. We still have the demand that planes take the Breezy Route to leave the airport.

Those two stories, as overwhelming as they are, were not the only events that "altered and illuminated" our lives in the past year.

First, at least in chronological order, came the debate and the controversy over the Golden Video and its pornographic material. The protests went on for weeks. It is still there and the protestor are not.

The issue of ferry service for Rockaway has been an on and off story for the past year. First, we were never going to get a subsidized ferry service. Then, we were. Then, the subsidy was gone. It is still gone.

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has been an ongoing story, both for the expansion of its generating facility in Bayswater and for its substation on Beach 108 Street and Beach Channel Drive. Both sites brought controversy, both sites brought protest. The Bayswater expansion is under construction. The Rockaway Park substation has been completed and only the removal of the old site and remediation of the toxic waste on the remainder of the site remains.

Al Stabile, who became controversial for the way he handled both the funds of the little league he ran and his campaign funds, is gone – a victim of his excesses and term limits.

The elections were exciting. There were lots of locals running in the primary. While there was more heat than light, the city council election kept everybody’s attention right to the end, when Joe Addabbo and Jim Sanders won their respective races.

What ever happened to BAA and its plan to take over the two airports in Queens? I think that it left with Giuliani. At least, I hope it did. Seems to me there was some sort of contract that his honor signed before he left office, but nobody in government seems to be sure.

Of course, there was the drowning of three young girls on Beach 9 Street. That is bound to bring some changes in signage and in the way the lifeguards do business on that stretch of beach. The demonstrations go on, but only among those who want to get elected to something. Nobody else seems to care.

The same is true of the 300 million gallons of raw sewage that was dumped into our bay, the Doppler radar setup at Floyd Bennett Field, the NYPD impound lot at Riis Park, the magnet grant and the loss of marsh grass in Jamaica Bay.

The next big stories are the lack of seats and the lack of money in our schools. Then, there is the controversy at Beach Channel High School Will the principal leave if the suspended teacher is returned? Stay tuned. Will the firehouse on Beach 69 Street be relocated to Beach 84 Street when Arverne By The Sea is built? We’ll let you know.

What will be next?

That is the joy of being a local editor. You never know what will greet you when you walk into the office.

A year ago, I pledged to bring you the most honest, most inclusive, most entertaining paper that Rockaway has every seen. I hope that The Wave team has been able to do that to your satisfaction.

I look forward to serving you and your needs in the coming year.

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