2003-07-04 / Columnists



Despite a few organizational glitches, the RMAC’s USO Show, featured at Floyd Bennett Field on Saturday night, was one of the best things ever done by the organization. The George Gee Orchestra was tops and the Rockaway Theater Company put on a great show between the sets. The old planes, being restored in the hanger by HARP, were a constant reminder of the locale, and the ambiance was great. Hats off to the event’s organizer, Nancy Vardakis for a job well done and to organization president Barbara Eisenstadt as well.

When the electrical service went down in Howard Beach last Wednesday, it caused lots of problems for commuters who travel to Rockaway on the A Train and on the express buses and put thousands of would-be commuters on the street in both Broad Channel and Rockaway. In fact, there was a near-riot in Broad Channel, with thousands of people, pushed off the A Train, sought for transportation across the bay to the peninsula. The police from the 100 Precinct quickly moved into the area and stopped the problems before they could occur.

The residents of Beach 129 Street in Rockaway Park have begun a collection from each home on the street, from the ocean to the bay, to place American Flags along the street. The flags have already begun to go up. We would hope that other blocks follow suit with this good idea. Those who are interested in sponsoring a flag should call Susan Brady at 718-945-3933.

Rather than the rules for the beach becoming less restrictive, Parks Department workers were out on the boardwalk this weekend, putting stickers on those obnoxious red and white signs changing the "No dogs on the beach" restriction to "No dogs on the beach or the boardwalk." Speaking of the beach, Channel 2 News did a pickup from Coney Island on Saturday morning. The station’s weather reporter was on the Coney Island boardwalk and there was not a red and white sign in view. At 9:15 a.m., there were people walking their dogs on the boardwalk, riding bikes, rollerblading. On the beach were beach volleyball nets and lots of beach tents. The police leaned against the rails and did nothing, because those things are not considered illegal in Brooklyn as they are in R ckaway. When we ask Parks Department people why that is so, we are told that Rockaway is a "residential area," while Coney Island is a "commercial" area. That is a disingenuous answer. We are both summer beach resorts, and anybody who lives here and does not believe that, should move to Minnesota, where they will have nothing to do each summer but listen to the cows moo.

We have to comment on the passing of author Leon Uris, who died last week. His debut novel, "Battle Cry," became a seminal work for those who fought in World War II. His later novels, including "Exodus," a story of the founding of Israel, became best sellers despite negative reviews from the professional book reviewers. Some of his other works were "Mila 18," Trinity," and "QB XIV." He and his books will be missed.

The mayor has come up with a plan for elections that would take the political parties out of the mix. Candidates would not run on party lines, but by themselves. A runoff election between the two top candidates would be mandated even if one candidate does get a majority in the primary election. The idea of "nonpartisan" elections has caught on in many venues, but none of them allows for a runoff is one candidate is clearly the winner.

The Daniel M. O’Connell Post of the American Legion is looking for help with its annual "Everybody’s Birthday Party," which will be held on July 13 at St. Alban’s Hospital. The organization is badly in need of presents for the disabled vets at the hospital, from sweaters and gloves to underwear. Those interested in donating or in assisting with the part at the hospital should contact Ed Hazel at 718-634-6642.

A sign has gone up at the foot of Beach 116 Street and the boardwalk, touting "Ocean Grande," a new luxury condo building at that location. The billboard says that it will be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2004. The one and two-bedroom condo units will start at $300 thousand.

City Councilman Joe Addabbo tells us that the rules for access to the beach and the boardwalk might soon be changed to allow for people to use the beach (but not the ocean) until 10 p.m. each night and the boardwalk until midnight. That would be a change for the better, but Addabbo says that it would be done for this year only, "on a trial basis" to see how it works out. Now, we have to work on the bicycle riding problem and the dog walking problem and the surfing problem and the fishing problem and all those other beach-related problems that don’t seem to be problems at any other beach in the city.

Those who want to see Rockaway restored to a beach community should join with Lew Simon on the boardwalk at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9, for a rally about the problems and how to resolve them. Simon says that he expects upwards of 1,000 people to come and show their displeasure with the Parks Department and Commissioner Benepe. We hope he is right. If Rockaway residents don’t show their displeasure, then City Councilman Joe Addabbo (who heads the Parks Committee) and Benepe will go on believing that the people of Rockaway like the rules just as they are. It is all up to you.

The woman that the feds believe is responsible for the Golden Venture fiasco of ten years ago has been arraigned in Manhattan Federal Court after a three-year legal battle in which she tried to fend off extradition and charges of human smuggling. You’ll remember that a little more than ten years ago, Rockaway awoke on morning to what became an international story breaking here.

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