2003-06-06 / Columnists



Construction has begun on the malls that will soon run down the middle of Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 126 Street to Beach 139 Street. To some, the new malls make no sense except to those who want Belle Harbor to look like Neponsit. This ties in with the foolishness that designates one area as "Upper Belle Harbor," and another, seemingly less desirable area as "Lower Belle Harbor." Get real, folks. We all live in Far Rockaway, and center malls are not going to change that.

Word from the sponsors at the RMAC is that the "Rendezvous With History," being held on Saturday, June 28 at Floyd Bennett Field, will provide "atmosphere, environment, music and food" to those who attend. The band from the Rainbow Room in Manhattan will perform, as will the Rockaway Theatre Group. There will be a park-like food area nearby the bandstand. Sounds like a unique, interesting and entertaining evening.

There is growing pressure for the city’s Department of Education to reopen the boat ramp at Beach Channel High School, although it remains closed and the officials of the agency have turned down City Councilman Joe Addabbo’s request to open it for a short time to allow boaters to get their boats in the water. The Daily News did a big story (featuring the Broad Channel Volies, who used the ramp to get their rescue boats into the water) on the fact that the BCHS ramp is the only one between Staten Island and Nassau County. "The pier is for school use only," Margie Feinberg, a spokesperson for the agency told Ruth Bashinsky of the News. "However, the public has been using it before we had to close it because it was considered unsafe. To fix it is a major capital expense and not part of our current capital plan, which runs to 2004."

Three west end temples will hold a joint blood drive on June 29. The three, Ohab Zedek, West End and Beth El, say that this is the first time that the three temples have bound together for an event such as the blood drive. Watch for further information in The Wave.

The last Air France Concorde to fly from Paris to New York was greeted last week with water canon and cheers. It left the next day for Paris under cloudy skies with only a few airport personnel watching its last takeoff from JFK. The five Concordes, owned by the airline have been promised to museums. British Airways will end its Concorde service to New York in October. Congressman Anthony Weiner seemed to speak for most locals when he said, "I think that I speak for everybody who lives around JFK Airport when I say goodbye and good riddance."

On June 6, 1993, the Golden Venture came to Rockaway, bringing a media presence that would not be repeated until November 12, 2001. For those who forgot the incident, the Golden Venture was attempting to smuggle 286 illegal Chinese immigrants into the United States when it ran upon a sand bar at Breezy Point, right off Jacob Riis Park. Ten of the immigrants drowned in the surf, attempting to swim ashore from the beached boat. Hundreds of others made it to shore and were quickly scooped up by police and immigration officers. Ten years later, most of those who remained on the ship or were arrested ashore have been given asylum and remain in the United States. About 140 were returned to China. The ship itself was finally sunk to make an artificial reef.

Gateway National Park has joined with Aviator Sports for a plan that would bring hockey and ice-skating rinks, basketball and volleyball courts, a football field and a soccer field as well as other recreational facilities to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. This could be the beginning of the sports complex, much like Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, that we have been promised for so long. Can a swimming pool in the site be far behind?

A report from the Citizen’s Budget Office reported that the city loses money on the summonses. The reports says that it costs the city $2.09 to collect $1.00. The only agency that spends less than one buck to collect that amount is the Parking Violations Bureau. The worst agency reportedly is the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, which spends more than $15.00 to collect that one buck. The Department of Buildings, the agency which will soon begin ticketing local storeowners for illegal awnings, spends $2.79 to collect one dollar. The ticket blitz that has been hitting city residents makes less sense than ever in light of the report.

The Graybeards, fresh from their designation as "New Yorkers Of The Week," by Channel One News, were featured last Thursday in Newsday’s "Queens Neighborhoods" section. Prominent in the story about the group’s work with the Claddagh INN was Wave Columnist Kevin Boyle, one of the founding members of the organization. The Graybeards have been getting lots of ink as late, and they deserve it for the good they have done for the community.

A warning to those who use the Muni-meter parking lot on Beach 116 Street. During the summer months, one quarter brings 20 minutes rather than the 30 minutes that the same quarter brings during winter months. A number of Rockaway residents who did not realize the change got tickets the end of last week and over the weekend.

You might not be able to use the beach for surfing or fishing, and you might not be able to take those long, romantic walks on the beach after 10 p.m., but there will be enough lifeguards for Rockaway beaches come July, according to the Parks Department. That is because Parks has recruited lifeguards from all over the world. Some come from as far way as Russia. The Wave welcomes our international lifeguard staff to Rockaway. Now, if the sun will only come out one of these weekends.

Talk about optimism. Community School Board 27, which is slated to go out of business on June 30 due to the new governance law, recently sent out a press release listing its meeting dates for the next school year. There is some hope for the school boards, however. There is a lawsuit on the part of several state Assemblypersons to put the new governance plan on hold, arguing that the mayor and the chancellor have no right to simply do away with the 32 existing school districts. A compromise was worked out that would keep on district staff person at each district office to maintain the legal fiction that those district offices still exist. That, of course, is viewed by many as the silliest thing they ever heard of. What will happen? Perhaps, we will not know the answer to that question until after school has begun in September. In any case, school will begin four days later than usual to allow for more teacher training.

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