2002-05-18 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The small red and white commercial aircraft that caused a minor panic by flying low over Rockaway on Friday belongs to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The crew of the plane was doing a survey on the loss of marsh grass in Jamaica Bay. The Wave got lots of calls from worried and angry residents about the flight, and it was reported that some nervous parents even pulled their kids out of PS 114, worried that the plane was going to crash into Belle Harbor or that it was part of some terrorist plot. A few of the reports said that the plane was in trouble, that there was smoke coming from the fuselage. None of that was true. The aircraft is temporarily based at Floyd Bennett Field. The plane did fly about 100 feet or so over the west end, and perhaps the corps should be more sensitive to what Rockaway has been through in the past seven or eight months.

If you read The Wave last year at this time, you would have read a story about the work on the Marine Parkway Bridge and the prediction that it would fully reopen "this time next year." The governor officially opened it last Friday.

Somebody has taken to painting graffiti on the mailboxes situated on Newport Avenue, west of Beach 129 Street. The unsightly white scribble has been on the boxes for a while, and perhaps it is time for the postal service to take a look and to do something about it.

The Wave attempts to let the community know what is going on in the Rockaways, and that sometimes angers one group or another. A few weeks ago, we did a story about a pedophile priest who had served the St. Rose of Lima parish many years ago. We used a picture of the church along with the story as an identifier. Some people at the church took umbrage to both the story and the picture. St. Rose stopped sending The Wave pictures and stories about its school and the children who attend that school. We believe that does a disservice to the school, to its children and to its community. Who is the church harming by its boycott of The Wave? It is harming its own children, its own community. We are asking parents of St. Rose children to submit their photos to The Wave for publication. Our new School Page has traditionally addressed all of the Rockaway schools and we will continue to do so.

We have heard that a local politician was speaking with Mayor Bloomberg about the plan to move the Beach 59 Street firehouse to Beach 48 Street recently, when the mayor said that he knew all about the controversy, that he had read about it in The Wave. It is nice to know that even the mayor keeps up with Rockaway events and issues by reading our weekly paper.

The Dunkin Donuts shop on Beach 116 Street will be closed for a month or so and then will reopen further down the block, nearby Beach Channel Drive.

The two bridges that connect Rockaway with the rest of the civilized world came under police scrutiny last week when police officials got a report that "two White males and a Hispanic male" were heard on Beach 116 Street discussing "blowing up a Rockaway toll bridge." The police spent several hours and lots of manpower looking for a Ryder truck with a Pennsylvania license plate that was supposedly connected with the plot. Obviously, nothing happened.

The Wave staff wants to congratulate ex-editor Kevin Boyle on signing a book deal for a tome about Rockaway. We all look forward to reading it, Kevin, but we all want autographed first editions for our collections.

The memorial for the victims of Flight 587 that was held last Sunday at the crash site was turned into a political polemic by a number of activists. What was supposed to be a time of grieving for both Washington Heights and Rockaway relatives of those who died as a result of the crash, turned instead into a media event for those with an agenda that had nothing to do with grieving. One man grabbed the microphones to demand that the victims of flight 587 be included in the September 11 victim's fund. Another told the media that American Airlines was discriminating against Hispanics by flying the Airbus A330 only to South and Central American destinations. Still a third complained that Monsignor Martin Geraghty, a "Anglo" priest, did the ceremony.

There have been a number of complaints that the Far Rockaway Post Office does not accommodate handicapped people, in violation of Federal regulations. They want a ramp to be built on the front of the building so that those with wheelchairs and seniors with walkers would have access to the building.

Those who are old enough will remember the copper bracelets that many people wore in commemoration of somebody who had died or was missing during the Vietnam War. Now, a Rockaway woman, Ann-Marie Werner, has come up with an idea for commemorating those who died in the attack on the World Trade Center last September 11 with similar bracelets. The bracelets, which were created by a Tiffany expert, are endorsed by the unions involved and all of the money raised through the sale of the bracelets will go to scholarship funds for the kids of those who died. The bracelets are $20 ($25 if you want a specific person's bracelet) and can be purchased on line by accessing www.911bracelet.org, at Macy's, or at Harbor Optics in Rockaway Park.

The editorial that appeared in last week's issue, "Reading, Writing, and Pimping," generated a number of phone calls from concerned parents, school officials and law enforcement representatives. They all wanted to know what school was allowing such practices to take place, and what they could do to assist in the matter. Since the parent has not been willing to come forward and tell her story, we decided to make a few phone calls, and we were able to find out that the school in question is not within the boundaries of Rockaway. The school is within the Springfield Gardens region. Council member James Sanders, Jr., one of those we contacted, was aware of the allegations and noted that the problem was rectified months ago. "I was personally involved in the matter, and I can tell you that, ultimately, no one was ever prosecuted. I'm not sure why this woman made the claims at the meeting, or made it seem as though Rockaway schools were involved, but no one was ever charged or convicted in the area where the allegations were based," said Sanders.

The Panhandling problem is getting even worse on Beach 116 Street, if that is possible. With the exception of Sheila, who simply sits with her hand out, singing to the passing throng, many of the panhandlers are getting more aggressive. I would hope that the problem is cleared up before visitors begin coming to Rockaway for the summer.


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