2003-01-18 / Columnists

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter

There are so very few things in this world that really stop me and make me bow my head with awe and say, "Oh my God!" Last Friday evening, I saw the most beautiful sunset over Rockaway. I had had such a frenetic day... and just when I least expected it, this most beautiful sunset appeared...as if just for me! It was such a stunning vision that when I was able to focus upon its brilliance, it took my breath away. I just wanted to rise up to it, lay under it, and bask in its warmth---forever! But then it just disappeared into the cold dark night. I suppose the whole point is to never take that kind of blessing for granted and to trust all the love I felt.

***With all the building and development going on that will undoubtedly change our seascape, I am delighted and flattered to have been asked by Arverne-By-The-Sea Developer Les Lerner, who is President of The Queens County Builders and Contractors Association, if I would serve on its esteemed Executive Board of Directors. Many of the Developers and Builders who sit on the board are engaged in construction projects throughout the peninsula. I will be privy to much of the planning and progress being made and it will enable me to convey this knowledge to you! These are very exciting times for not only Rockaway, but for the entire county where vast amounts of construction and new development are in the planning stage

***Here in Rockaway, there is a grassroots movement underway by a group of locals who have discovered that Rockaway has a City Charter. The history and existence of this Charter is quite fascinating. A Bill was originally written for Rockaway's secession from the city in 1915. The Bill passed through the State Senate as well as the Assembly and became law. Although the Bill was passed by both entities of state government, it was never signed by the New York City Mayor of the time, Puroy Mitchell, upon whom it was encumbered, based on the Home Rule clause, to either sign or veto the Bill. At the City Hall of Records, there is a vast file detailing the Bill, who authored it, as well as the original Charter itself. Those who have viewed the file state that there are actually petitions from constituents throughout the city who urged Mayor Mitchell to sign the bill. Tammany Hall also urged the Mayor to sign it. He never did. It's interesting to note that there may have been specific reasons why the Mayor chose to do nothing and let the clock run out on its deadline. There exists a letter in this file, which I have read, dated April 3, 1917 by a Mr. McWhinny, the original author of the Bill. The letter clearly urges Mayor Mitchell to sign the Charter, which had been amended, by its deadline at the end of the month. During this time, Mayor Mitchell was mounting his re-election campaign for his second term. An overwhelming majority of Mitchell's suporters were in favor of Rockaway's secession; therefore, he never would have merely vetoed it. However, it was also during this same time that the Federal Government was negotiating with the city to lease Riis Park and Fort Tilden. The Federal Government did not have title to the land. It would be a lengthy lease basis that would generate an inordinate amount of revenue for the city. Apparently, Mayor Mitchell was caught between "a rock and a hard place". If he had decided to sign the bill that had already become law, then all that revenue would have inevitably gone to Rockaway City. He chose to do nothing; and by doing nothing, he basically dribbled the ball until the clock ran out and the April 30th deadline passed. The Federal Government entered into the contract with the city for the land on April 9, 1917. In other words, the city leased the land during the time that the Mayor was to sign the Bill. However, because the Bill was passed by both the House and Senate, it automatically became law until it was vetoed. Which it was not; and since it was not vetoed, it is very likely that the validity of the Bill still stands. Investigative research is currently being conducted in the Senate and the Assembly to find further documentation on the status of Bill, if there was in fact a veto, whether there were additional amendments passed in subsequent years, and what the implications are of the Home Rule Provision. I will write next week about some of the advantages and consequences of Rockaway becoming a self-governing municipality.

***The James Conway Sullivan Memorial Queens County Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Cultural Committee will host its annual Hearts and Shamrocks Dance this Sunday January 19 at Saint Camillus from 4 'til 8 pm. There will be dancing to The Black Velvet Band and a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner. This well-attended event is usually sold out in advance. Tickets are $35 and may still be obtained from any parade committee member or honoree. Hope to see you all there!

***The Consul General of Ireland, Mr. Eugene Hutchinson, will be attending our Antun's Gala Benefit. He is also expected to march with us on parade day, March 1.

***Tickets for the "100 Club" 50/50 may be obtained from Barbara J. Morris, who will also be selling them at The Hearts and Shamrocks Dance. Tickets are $100. and only a 100 will be sold.

***Much thanks to the always very gracious Mary Bowles of The Blackwater Inn who made such a lovely shamrock and lace photo album which will be featured as a Door Prize at the dance.

***This year, for the first time, our parade will be broadcast live via WebCam!

***I extend my condolences to the family of Mike Gallagher, Proprietor of the renowned Gallagher's Pub. The legacy of this sweet man and famed location is now The Palm Garden.
*****Get well wishes to Mrs. Moya McHale with love from her son Sergeant Glen McHale.

***Happy Birthday wishes to the always feisty Bernadette Braun!

***I recieved a letter from Mary and Jim Kelly who are vacationing on Marco Island in Florida. The still newlywed couple will return in time for Mary's birthday (shhhh!) and the many parade festivities.

***See you....at The Hearts and Shamrocks Dance!  


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