2002-07-13 / Columnists


The businesspeople on Beach 116 Street say that this was the best July 4 weekend that they've had in years. People came off the subway by the thousands and many others came by bus, despite the fact that there is a bus strike in progress. The stores were mobbed. After the fireworks show, it was impossible to get into the ices store or Baskin Robbins for some dessert. All in all, the weekend, at least from a business point of view, was a large success.

The Rockaway Music and Arts Council concert featuring "Cherish The Ladies," was a huge success last weekend. More than 1,100 people attended the Fort Tilden concert. This week's concert, which will be held on Sunday at 6 p.m. at Fort Tilden, will feature Kenny Vance and the Planotones. This concert will honor the memory of Wave publisher Leon Locke, a long-time member of the RMAC and arguably Rockaway's premier Doo Wop fan.

The July 4 fireworks show on the boardwalk was the first in more than 20 years, and the Chamber of Commerce has to be applauded for sponsoring the show. It was, however, a little disappointing. More than a thousand people lined the boardwalk, but the show lasted less than ten minutes and the usually-spectacular finish was less than spectacular. We have to wonder what happened to the 18-minute show that was promised.

Hundreds of people use the bus that stops in front of the Neponsit Nursing Home, especially in the summer. Many senior citizens use that spot to transfer from Brooklyn buses to Rockaway lines. It seems to us that the city could place some benches at that stop so that seniors would not have to stand and endure the long wait between buses.

Ten years ago this week, Lew Simon held his famous protest on the Cross Bay Bridge. Simon and about 25 of his supporters tied up traffic on the bridge for an hour or so calling for an end to tolls for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents. This was accomplished a few years later, not by Simon (although he still claims that it was his doing), but by some insider politics and the intervention of Rudy Washington, who was then Mayor Giuliani's deputy mayor. By the way, Norman Siegel of the ACLU was at the march as an "official observer." He acted as if the police form the 100 Precinct were going to attack the demonstrators. Simon attempted to get himself arrested, perhaps believing that it would help his resume when he ran against Sy Sheldon.

Patrick Dowdell from Breezy Point began his West Point career this week, honoring the wishes of his father, Firefighter Kevin Dowdell, who died on September 11 at the World Trade Center.

The death of a 10-year-old boy from Brooklyn who died when the personal watercraft (PWC) he was riding on was hit from behind by another PWC once again points out the danger of the small craft and the fact that children and high-powered watercraft often do not mix. Now that it has been clarified that there is a corridor alongside Rockaway where the craft are legal, they have once again proliferated in the bay. It is only a matter of time before we have a fatal accident of our own.

Today's multi-millionaire professional athletes, many of who use drugs and act like criminals bear no relationship to the athletes of the past, many of whom worked at off-season jobs just to stay alive. While today's athletes complain that they deserve even more money for playing a game, stars like Ted Williams (who died recently), Jerry Coleman and others gave up years of productive lives to fight for their country. Williams was a Marine fighter pilot in World War II and then again in Korea. He flew Corsairs from 1943-1945 in the Pacific and then flew Panther jets from 1952-1953, flying 39 combat missions over Korea. He was shot down twice and never complained about the time or money he was losing supporting his country. Could you picture any of today's athletes doing the same?

The New York Post did a multi-page spread on local beaches last week and guess which beach was left out. You've got it right. Although Coney Island and Riis Park were highlighted, there was not a mention that a beach at Rockaway even exists.

When the beaches were officially opened for the season a month ago, the promise from the Parks Department was that all of Rockaway's beaches (with the exception of those populated by Piping Plovers and those where no sand exists) would be opened by July 1. We checked last week and found that the beaches between Beach 74 Street and Beach 81 Street remain closed even though many people live along that stretch of beach.

Commercial aircraft continue to fly over the west end of Rockaway both day and night, contrary to the deal worked out between Congressman Anthony Weiner and the FAA back in January. Has the plan been put on hold again, or are the pilots simply ignoring the new flight rules? It is hard to tell, but anybody who lives in the west end knows that there are more flights, not fewer.

Two Small planes overflew Rockaway's beaches low and fast on July 4. Those who saw them in transit over the peninsula say that they missed the Marine Parkway Bridge by inches. NYPD copters chased them and forced them down at a New Jersey airport. The FAA says that there must be a hearing before the agency can take their licenses away.

The service flags that have become so popular throughout the peninsula have now been reduced in price to allow for even more Rockaway families to honor police officers, firefighters and those in the armed forces. The cost of the flags is now $10. The flags can be purchased at The Wave office on Beach 88 Street, at the Chamber of Commerce office and at West End Realty, both on Beach 116 Street.

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