2003-02-15 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Ten years ago this week, the Police Blotter column came back to The Wave after more than a dozen years on hiatus. Over the years, the interest in the blotter and its insertion in the paper has waxed and waned. Those of you who read the paper regularly know that we now only address felonies and that we do not print notices of incidents that involve those less than 17 years of age.

Those of you who love model trains or who have kids that love Thomas The Tank Engine, should go to Hofstra College in Hempstead on March 1 and 2 for the Greenberg Train Show, one of the most prestigious on this coast. The show includes the most fabulous train layouts in all gauges.

It is hard to understand why the Parks Department is cleaning the beach during the winter months when there is nobody using the facility. It would seem, especially with a tight budget, that winter beach cleaning would be out.

An Olympic-sized swimming pool for Riis Park has been an issue ever since Chuck Schumer promised one to Rockaway when he was our Representative. When Tony Weiner followed on Schumer’s coattails, he picked up the promise. There has been lots of talk and lots of posturing about the pool, and now a study has finally been completed that tends to show that the pool would be a large waste of time and money. Those who did the study posed three different proposals to local residents and others in Brooklyn and Nassau, people who might be tempted to use a pool facility in Riis Park. They posed an outdoor pool that would be open only during the summer, an indoor pool without diving facilities and an indoor pool with diving facilities. The locals overwhelmingly wanted the latter plan, some place where swim teams could train and hold swim meets, someplace that would attract first class teams and coaches. The cost of building and maintaining such a facility, however, is prohibitive. Estimates are that such a facility would take more than $2 million in taxpayer money each year to run and maintain and money like that is just not in the cards.

There were many in the Jewish community, particularly among the Orthodox community, who could not believe that the boys from the Mercaz Hatorah Yeshiva on beach 129 Street would harass Catholic girls as was detailed in the February 1 issue of The Wave. A number of them wrote letters to this paper detailing their disbelief. Many added that we had no right to write the story or to do it on the front page. The fact is that there was a certain disbelief on our part as well until we spoke with the parents of the girls involved. The reputations of the parents and the way they told their stories left little doubt in our minds that we could not discount the story, a story that had to be told and told prominently. We are glad that prominent leaders in both the Jewish and Catholic communities have spoken with the kids who live in the area, but it is important that the kids speak with each other as well.

NYPD Deputy Inspector Mike Morley, who once led the 100 Precinct, and his wife, NYPD Captain Susan Morley lived right across the street from the site where American Airlines Flight 587 came down in Belle Harbor. Their home was demolished and they have since bought a new one. Last week, Susan Morley was promoted to deputy inspector as well. We wish to congratulate her and to wish them both well.

A year ago last week, The Wave included a full-page ad and a story about the Parks Department’s search for lifeguards to staff Rockaway beaches. This year, however, there has not been a word from Parks about lifeguard training. Even with the early start last year, there were not enough lifeguards for Rockaway beaches until early July. One has to wonder what this year’s late start will bring.

A construction company was seen drilling in the large empty lot south of the Beach Club property on Beach 116 Street and the boardwalk early last week. Lots of telephone calls by both The Wave and residents who live on Beach 117 Street have elicited the fact that there may one day soon be a 6 to 8 story building with one and two-bedroom coops onsite. The problem is, nobody in officialdom can confirm the report. Right across the street from the Beach Club, on the site that was once the Seaport Restaurant, workers have begun construction of what we believe will be a storage facility. Of course, nobody in officialdom will confirm or deny that as well. We’ll just have to keep watching.

The first poll of residents addressing the coming presidential election is in – at least on the Democratic side. Those who responded to the poll said that they would vote overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton (42 percent), and then for Lieberman (15 percent), Kerry (11 percent), Gephardt (11 percent), Edwards (seven percent) Dean (3 percent) and Sharpton (2 percent).

The Gateway Environmental Study Center was slated to be closed in February due to budget cuts on the part of the Department of Education. After stories appeared in this and other local papers, however, the city rethought the closure and gave the center, which trains hundreds of teachers in Science and Math, a six-month reprieve.

Stephen Harris from Weybridge, Vermont, is writing a book on the old Fighting 69th Regiment in World War I and he is asking for your help. Harris says that he wants to hear from the families of men who fought with the regiment. Among the names of men who were with the regiment and who came from Rockaway were: Lt. Zenas Burns, Charles Carman, Daniel M. O’connel, Dennis Spillane, William Gordon and James J. Conway. Harris can be reached by e-mail at slharris@sover.net.


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