2002-11-30 / Columnists


Despite the fact that Rockaway was promised that the old LILCO site, which is on the superfund clean-up list, would one day be remediated and used for commercial development, there are now rumors that LIPA plans to place a fuel cell tank farm on the site. LIPA will not say one way or the other, but it is common knowledge that the company is looking at all of its sites that now house substations, as our does, as sites for the new technology.

Many Rockaway residents who live on the east end of the peninsula use the Five Towns and Rockaway Turnpike to enter and leave the community. Those drivers have been impacted by the construction of a new, massive cargo warehouse facility directly across the street from JFK Airport. If that project has hindered their commute, however, they haven't seen anything yet. There are plans for the construction of a 208,000 square-foot shopping center at the intersection of Rockaway Turnpike and Brookville Boulevard (AKA, Snake Road). The plans call for a facility much like the new one on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, with major stores and restaurants.

There is a great picture in Sunday's New York Times that personifies the problems that face the New York City public school system. Chancellor Joel Klein is pictured speaking with parents at Brooklyn Technical High School. On the chalkboard behind Klein is a sheet of paper that announces the city's website. Unfortunately, it is spelled "WEB Cite," on the paper. You would think that with more than a hundred parents and chancellor's staff in the room, somebody would have spotted the mistake.

The Busy Been Learning Center, a new store for teacher's and parents who want to buy educational games and material will officially open this Saturday, November 30, with face painting, food and lots of other things to do. The store, which is owned and operated by two young Rockaway teachers, is located at 111-14 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The festivities begin at noon.

The "Little North Pole" will return to Rockaway on Saturday, December 7. Joseph Mure, the local president for the Juvenile Diabetes Society will once again host the event, which has become a Rockaway tradition. Mure's new home at 144-03 Neponsit Avenue will be festooned with thousands of light and dozens of animated figures. The lighting ceremony will take place at the house on 6 p.m. There will be special performances by students from both PS 114 and St. Francis de Sales.

The Chamber of Commerce will host its tree lighting ceremony at Beach 116 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard on Monday, December 9 at dusk (approximately 4:30 or 5 p.m.). The Rockaway Rotary Club will hold its menorah lighting ceremony at that same spot on Friday, November 29 at noon.

Congressman Greg Meeks was passed over last week as vice chair of the powerful House Democratic Caucus. Secret ballots cast last week in the race for the fourth most powerful post in the House of Representatives, gave Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, a strong lead over both Meeks and a candidate from California. Meeks reportedly dropped out of the race at that point to avoid a run-off between two African-American candidates. Meeks had reportedly been lobbying for the post for more than a year.

New York State has funded $250 thousand for the development of a nature center at Alley Pond Park. Once again, Rockaway residents have to wonder why the Arverne Urban Renewal Area would not be a perfect site for a nature center.

Firefighter Eugene Whalen would have been 33 years old last Saturday had he not died in the World Trade Center. On Saturday, two of his brothers and a family friend dedicated a new Rockville Center restaurant to his name with a plaque and a statue. The restaurant, called "Gene Michael's," is on Sunrise Highway.

The Queens hearing set by the Task Force on School Governance will be held on December 12 at Queens Borough Hall. There will be a daytime hearing from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and an evening hearing from 6 to 9 p.m. We have been told that anybody who wants to be heard will get a chance to speak. The task force will decide on a method for parent input into the system once the school boards are disbanded next June. The task force must make recommendations to the state legislature by February 15. There is little chance that the task force will recommend keeping the present school boards in place. Assemblyman Steve Sanders, who is co-hair for the task force, recently said, "Although you can find some school boards that function reasonably well, for the vast majority of boards, that is unfortunately not the case."

UFT President Randi Weingarten, who is not known for her quick wit, came up with a good retort when School Chancellor Joel Klein said that "We have a teachers union that thinks they run the school system," and that "he will slowly reduce the power of the union." Weingargten, upon hearing the chancellor's comment, said, "The fact is, we don't run the schools. If we did, they'd run a lot better." Well done, Randi.

Kevin Boyle will be signing his book, "Braving The Waves: Rockaway rises and rises again," at The Wave offices (88-08 Rockaway Beach Boulevard) on Saturday, December 7 from 12 noon until 1 p.m. A book can be purchased at that time, or previously purchased books can be signed.

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