2003-07-11 / Editorial/Opinion

Whatever Happened To Summer?

Whatever Happened To Summer?

Whatever Happened To Summer?

Rockaway was once a fun place to be in the summer, what with all of the bungalows, seasonal residents, amusements, boardwalk amenities, shows, and fireworks each Wednesday night. A person does not have to be over 70 years of age to remember those days. Even in more recent times, Rockaway was associated with "fun in the sun." The daily papers gushed about our shorefront, about Playland, about the magical boardwalk that came alive at night with all sorts of games and food. Even in more recent times, Rockaway’s beaches were known for some of the best surfing waves in the area, for parties on the beach, for fishing off the numerous jetties. All of those things are gone. The boardwalk amenities, Playland and the bungalows were the victims of old age, economics and an urban renewal plan 35 years in the making. The surfing, the fishing, the parties on the beach and freedom to use the beach as we see fit are the victims of the Parks Department, which made the rules, and the police of the 100 Precinct, who enforce those rules. Where the daily papers were once full of happy Rockaway summer stories, the daily papers today are rife with stories of police raids and restrictive rules, of summonses and requests for identification from people wearing nothing but bathing suits. No more walking dogs on the boardwalk. No more riding your bike on the boardwalk during swimming hours. No more fishing. No more surfing. No beach tents. No open fires. No beer drinking. No radios. City Councilman Joe Addabbo recently told residents to go about doing what they had been doing. He indicated that the police and the parks enforcement square badges would wink at the rules when the mood struck them. It appears from recent events that the mood doesn’t strike them very often. The "raid" on a fundraiser for those who died on September 11, 2001 by police may have been the straw that forces the city to act on the ludicrous and restrictive rules. We cannot blame the police for enforcing the rules. We can blame Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and his operations second in command Liam Kavanagh for refusing to change the rules in the light of community opposition. They are the Grinch that stole summer from Rockaway, and that needs to be changed and changed before the summer gets too far along.

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