2003-05-09 / Columnists



Events in Rockaway over last weekend kept Wave reporters hopping. First, there was a homicide at Ocean Village at about 2 p.m. on Friday, then a bank robbery on Beach 129 Street about two hours later. There were two little league parades on Sunday and a large car accident on Sunday evening. Add to that the wild dogs and the usual school problems, and things were shaking.

Caught Gary Toms on John Baxter’s cable access show last week. Gary looked well, and we again want to wish him well in anything he chooses to do with his future.

There seems to be little doubt that the cuts to the Sanitation Department budget will impact Rockaway. Twice a week pickup will be a thing of the past and recycling pickups will now occur twice a month rather than each week. Many of those who live in their own homes will have to decide on a system of keeping garbage isolated for a longer period of time and those who handle the garbage in Rockaway’s many apartment buildings will have a tough time keeping the smell and rot from reaching apartments, especially during the summer months.

At the same time that the mayor is cutting paraprofessionals and garbage pickups, he is moving full speed ahead with his cigarette enforcement program. There will soon be a dozen people – your heard it right, twelve people – who will patrol bars each evening to catch smokers in the act of smoking. The problem seems to be, however, that the twelve will work only until 11 p.m. each night. We think that the smokers in the hundreds of bars in this city probably smoke after 11 p.m. as well as before. This entire program is getting sillier and sillier as time goes by and it is beginning to sound like a "Saturday Night Live" skit. By the way, recent studies show that many restaurants and bars, particularly those in Manhattan, have shown a precipitous drop in customers since the ban took effect.

On Saturday, May 10, the nation’s letter carriers will team up with Campbell Soup and Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes in an effort to stamp out hunger by collecting food on their routes. People who are interested in contributing should leave a non-perishable food item next to their mailbox for the regular carrier to pick up.

The busdriver involved in the minor accident on Beach 116 Street last week that was chronicled with a picture and a short caption came to The Wave office on Tuesday to complain that we were not fair to him when we said, "the driver lost his concentration." He demanded a retraction, saying that it was the truckdriver’s fault and that there is a sign on the back of his bus warning drivers that thebus makes wide turns. The fact is, a Wave editor was waiting to make a left turn from Beach 116 Street onto Rockaway Beach Boulevard at the time and watched the bus driver closely, waiting to see what he was going to do before making a move. While the bus driver said that the editor was an unreliable witness and did not see what he in fact saw, the fact was that the bus driver was not concentrating on what he was doing when he went into the turn. It is also a fact that the driver of the Parks Department truck should not have gone inside of the bus, attempting to go straight on Beach 116 Street rather than waiting for the bus to make a move.

The Reverend Jan Powell, the pastor of the First Congregational Church on Beach 94 Street has a real problem. The church, which maintains it grounds in meticulous fashion, has told The Wave that unsupervised kids have been trampling the grounds, breaking windows, and destroying church property. She says that teenagers continually hang out on the property, eating and leaving their waste behind, setting fire, doing drugs on the property and generally causing problems for the congregation. She asks parents to please get control of their children to stop the problems.

Congratulations to the Reverend George Vega, the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Far Rockaway. Vega, who will soon be honored by the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation, was named Newsday’s Queens Profile last week.

Audrey Pheffer called to say that there was never a bill that would allow for gambling in Rockaway. She said that both the Assembly and the Senate passed the first run of a Constitutional Amendment that would have allowed for Casino gambling in the rest of the state, but not the city. After September 11, 2001, the Senate passed an amendment that would have allowed one casino in New York City. The Assembly never passed a like amendment, and the entire deal died of its own weight.

There is optimism on the part of the Chamber of Commerce and artist Patrick Clark that the Tribute Park now being built on Beach 116 Street and Beach Channel Drive will be completed on time for its dedication on September 11 of this year. That is good news for the Rockaway Community.

Take a ride down Cross Bay Boulevard through Broad Channel and you will see American Flags hanging from each and every utility pole in that community. The flags were donated by local residents and organizations and put up by Republican District Leader Ed O’Hare and his crew. Congratulations to O’Hare and to the Broad Channel community.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has agreed to take on the lawsuit that Duane Reade has brought against both local glass artist Patrick Clark and The Wave. The pharmicutical corporation is suing both the paper and Clark for defamation of character because of an ad that Clark ran in the paper complaining about the massive sign that the pharmacy is constructing overlooking Clark’s planned September 11 memorial in the Tribute Park, which is now under construction. There will be a DOB hearing on the sign on May 13, but insiders expect that the sign will be ok’d.

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