2003-07-11 / Columnists



There is no doubt that there is a problem with people swimming at Rockaway Beach when there are no lifeguards on duty. Swimming off-hours has been a problem for many years, and it has proved
impossible to legislate against stupidity even though the Parks Department has tried mightily to do just that. Tom Wade called on Monday to say that there were incidents at Beach 105 Street on both Saturday and Sunday when non-swimmers were pulled from the water by him and his brothers – Mark and Paul, assisted by Susan Wade and Steve Gliboff. On Saturday evening, at about 6:30 p.m. (a half hour after the lifeguards left for the day) six men were pulled from the water by the brothers. Reportedly, at least two of the men were in danger of drowning. On Sunday night, at about the same time, three more people were pulled from the water a little earlier in the evening. We are not sure that anything can be done about the problem. If the Parks Department restricted the beach and put up a fence around it, then some people would climb the fence and go swimming. Added to the beach rule signs, however, should be a notice that "off-hour" swimming is "at your own risk," and then the city should fight any lawsuits arising from drowning situations after or before the lifeguards are on duty.

We were standing on the boardwalk at about 7:30 p.m. on July 4 and a number of people were asking what time the fireworks would start. They were uniformly disappointed when they were told that there were no fireworks in Rockaway, that they had to wait for the Night Out Against Crime for Rockaway fireworks. It is a shame that the business owners in Rockaway could not get together with the civic organizations to finance a half-hour of fireworks (about $10,000). There were fireworks at Coney Island, the Macy’s fireworks, at Staten Island, in East Islip, at Jones Beach, and at 30 other small towns on Long Island and in Westchester. It is a shame that Rockaway could not get it going.

The new District 27 superintendent of schools will be Rita Geramita, an old hand in our local schools. She will sit at the district office with a staff of two (a parent advocate and a clerical worker). Geramita was an excellent school principal for many years, and she would be better used as a principal or as an instructional supervisor.

The rich people in East Hampton have proved that even Piping Plovers cannot stop them from doing what they think is expedient. Seems that there is a pond in that exclusive town that is drained a number of times each year to keep the water from flooding the multi-million dollar homes that surround the pond. This year, however, some Piping Plovers showed up and local conservationists refused to allow the pond to be drained despite the heavy rains. The little birds are a protected species, as Breezy Point residents well know). The basements in neighboring homes were soon flooded. Late one night last week, however, somebody drained the pond and ended the flooding. Environmentalists are screaming bloody murder, but homeowners such as Ron Perlman, Calvin Klein and Steven Spielberg all have dry basements and a smile on their collective faces.

Shades of Pearl Harbor. Papers in the estate of the man who led the British army in the New York City area during the Revolutionary War prove that the British commander knew in advance of Washington’s attack on the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey, one of the most important battles from the American point of view. Records show that the experts in Washington had clues to the Pearl Harbor attack in advance, but that the message was slow in getting out and the local commanders never acted on that information.

The rumors of Congressman Anthony Weiner planning to run for mayor against Mike Bloomberg next time around have led to a spate of conjecture as to whom the Democrats will run. There are the usual suspects such as Charles Baron (the ex-Black Panther who now serves in the City Council), Mark Green (doesn’t he know when to quit), Fernando Ferrer (the former Bronx Borough President); Giff Miller (the man who lost us the commuter tax), William Thompson (ex-Board of Ed) and one newcomer, John Gatsmatidis (a supermarket owner who can’t decide if he is Democrat or Republican). One Republican, John Ognibene, the former minority leader in the City Council, has put his foot in the water as well. Despite Bloomberg’s lack of popularity, it would be hard for a traditional Democratic Liberal such as Green, Ferrer, Miller and Thompson to beat the left of center Republican mayor.

The city works very slowly. Last December, a "No Parking" sign was knocked down alongside the Park Nursing Home. It was not much of a problem for the home during the winter, which is on the boardwalk, but it has evolved into a problem during the summer, when beachgoers block ambulances and fire engines from gaining access to the building. Officials told us that they complained and were told that a work order for a new sign went out on June 7. They are still waiting, however, for the DOT to put up the much-needed sign.

It is past time for the city and the MTA to make a decision on the Green Bus Line and Jamaica Buses so that those residents who ride the buses each day will be able to breathe easily in the knowledge that they will have bus service when this is all over. There are rumors that the express service from Rockaway to Manhattan will end after a takeover and that the service will be rerouted to Nassau County. We understand that is only a rumor and probably a bad one at that, but Rockaway riders deserve to know.

The Wave was in error last week when it said that the "Everybody’s Birthday Party" for vets to be sponsored by the local American Legion Post would be held at the veteran’s hospital. In fact, the party will be held at the American Legion Post on Sunday, July 13.

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