2003-05-16 / Columnists



More than 30 mourners showed up on a cold, rainy Sunday morning for a memorial service at Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue, the crash site of American Airlines Flight 587 in November of 2001. They came to pray and to place flowers at a makeshift memorial to their loved ones who perished when the Airbus A300-600 plunged into the streets of Belle Harbor. There were two other things on their minds as well – a permanent memorial at the site and the burial of the unidentified remains that are still held by the medical examiner. Both issues bring controversy. There are many who live in the Belle Harbor community who are against a permanent memorial at the site. In addition, there are a number of groups purporting to represent the families of the victims, and they cannot get together on a decision as to what will be done with those remains.

The Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) has bought the O’Kane Building in Far Rockaway and plans to spend $800 thousand rehabilitating it for use as its new headquarters. Officials of the RDRC say that this is the first step in revitalizing the Far Rockaway shopping area and that the addition space will help the organization in assisting more people looking for jobs. It seems to us that we have heard this song before and that the $800 thousand could probably better be spent on actually helping people get jobs or in generating jobs than in building a palatial headquarters.

Bayswater has long been one of the most eclectic and integrated communities in New York City. The Daily News did a piece on the Rockaway community last Sunday that proves the point. About half of the residents are African-American, while nearly a quarter are White. Twenty percent are Hispanic and 3 percent are Asian. Eighty-five percent live in households of two or more, and nearly three-quarters are high school graduates. Twenty-five years ago or so, when the White flight from the community first began, a beautiful home in Bayswater could be had for $65 thousand. Today, that same home would sell for in excess of $350 thousand.

Who is the leading Democratic candidate for President of the United States? According to one poll, the leader is "Undecided." Nearly 35 percent of the Democrats polled said that they had "no opinion" as yet. Twenty-two percent said that they did not like any of the candidates. Eleven percent would vote for Dick Gephardt.

The District 27 office on Ozone Park will soon become the office for the new Region Five, unless the politicians have their way once again and kill the reorganization plan. The office building
at 82-01 Rockaway Boulevard (which costs taxpayers more than $600 thousand a year as is), is being renovated for its new tenants. We have been told that the office is throwing away tens of thousands of dollars worth of books, supplies, programs and tapes that could be used in the schools. We would think that the other 31 district offices are doing the same. What a waste!

Mayor Mike Bloomberg still does not get it. His popularity has not dropped because he has proposed unpopular taxes and made unpopular cuts. It has dropped because his push for the smoking ban and his actions prove that he has no idea of what residents really want from a mayor. Witness the fact that he is fighting a state bill that would assist the brothers and sisters of those who died on September 11 to become cops and firefighters by giving them an addition ten points on the civil service exams. Bloomberg says that he opposes the bill because it would hamper the recruitment of minorities. What world does this man live in? A recent poll shows that sixty-six percent of city residents polled say that he does not understand the day-to-day life of city residents. Sixty percent say that Bloomberg does not care about the needs and problems of the people who live in New York. In fact, only forty percent of those questioned said that they would like to have dinner with the mayor.

Bernie Blum, the president of the Friends of Rockaway, says that he found a mature Ghost Crab in Arverne. The guidebooks, Blum says, say the crab’s range is from New Jersey to the Caribbean, but he adds that, to his knowledge, one has never been found on Long Island. He says that this is one indication that global warming is for real.

In the wake of a letter from a resident complaining that she was ticketed for walking her dog on the boardwalk, local police officials came to The Wave with pictures of the signs that adorn the wall of many of the west end beach entrances. They clearly say, "No Dogs Allowed On Beach or Boardwalk."

Anticipating that they might soon be out of business, the Green Bus line joined a number of other highly-subsidized private bus lines in Queens in putting its Rockaway bus depot up for sale. The city will soon transfer the line’s routes to the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Experts say that the lines will probably not sell the depots until the city deal is final and that the sale will not have an impact on riders. Green Bus has two major depots, one in Jamaica, nearby Rockaway Boulevard and one in Rockaway, right behind the Peninsula Hospital Center.

Remember, the last day for purchasing a memorial brick for the Tribute Park is May 30, only two weeks away. Bricks sell for $75 and $100 dollars and can be had from the Chamber of Commerce at 718-634-1300.

One of The Wave editors found himself late on Monday evening with a dead electrical system in his car on Beach 129 Street. He was trying to find a way to get the car to Bulloch’s Service Station when several men came out of Jamison’s Pub and pushed him right into the station. There are still many helpful people in Rockaway.


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