2003-09-12 / Columnists



There is now a parent coordinator in each of the city’s public schools. Those coordinators have been hired by the principal of each of the schools to address parent’s concerns and answer parent’s questions. Each of those coordinators has been supplied with a cell phone, a move that sounds like a good idea, but could cost the cash-strapped Department of Education upwards of $1 million this year alone. We tried to get a list of the parent coordinators for the Rockaway schools and their cell phone numbers, so that we could inform you as to who to call, but all we got at the new Region Five office coordinating the program was a message that the "voice mail box is filled, please call later." School opened Monday, and we wonder how long parents will have to wait to get those important phone numbers.

Way behind schedule, over budget and facing a lawsuit in the death of one of its employees on a test run, the much-vaunted AirTrain is scheduled to begin service at the end of the year. You’ll remember that the train service will connect the Howard Beach A Line station with JFK Airport and the Jamaica rail and bus terminal at Archer Avenue. A ride will cost $5 one-way. The question is, now that they have built it, will anybody come?

Groundbreaking for the new Skate Park in Rockaway is reportedly scheduled for September 26. Funds for the park will be allocated by City Councilman Joe, Addabbo, and the chair of the council’s Parks Committee. Locals hope that the skate park will draw skateboarders and in-line skaters away from the more informal venues they now use, like the steps of Beach Channel High School. The new park will be located at Shore Front Parkway, between Beach 90 and Beach 91 Streets.

There is a move to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted more that sixteen years ago. At the time, Casper Weinberger, then the Secretary of Defense urged that Pollard should be jailed for life, stating that he had badly damaged the security of the United States. Pollard’s supporters say that he gave Israel the information that it needed for its survival, information that the U.S. should have provided to it as an ally. They say he in no way damaged the security of the U.S. while aiding Israel’s security. Pollard seeks a Presidential pardon for his crimes, as he did from the past few presidents. They did not grant him a pardon, and local veteran’s groups are urging our federal legislators to insure that he does not get one this time.

There is a century-old law on the city’s books that says that advertising signs on stores must be in English. Like many archaic regulations, this rule is largely ignored in many of the city’s immigrant communities. City Councilman Tony Avila, however, is pushing for the city to enforce the rule. Avila, who represents Bayside in the council, said, "I think that storeowners should be good neighbors and they are not good neighbors if they do not advertise their business in English."

The Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) will hold its first annual golf tournament on Monday, September 15 at the Inwood Country Club. Proceeds from the event are earmarked for the RDRC’s Beacon program at MS 198. Those interested should contact the RDRC at its Far Rockaway offices.

The application deadline for the Arverne By The Sea home lottery is October 21. That date is quickly coming, and many local residents who want a home of their own have already requested applications. Only 600 units are available in the first phase of the project, so those who are interested should make sure they get their application soon and return it by the deadline.

Overheard from local public school teachers, "Why do I need a master’s degree when all I have to do is follow a scripted program each day?" "Why don’t I just hand in the manual when I am asked for lesson plans?" And, "I was told that if I did not follow the strict curriculum, I would be re-educated and that a letter would be put in my file for insubordination." What a way to run a school system.

Even though homicides in the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway are up 100 percent from last year (to 8 from 4 last year), the homicide rate over the past ten years has fallen 38 percent. Overall, crime in the precinct has fallen by 74.40 percent over the past ten years.

Don’t forget to write the Rockaway Music and Arts Council (RMAC) Fall Festival into your calendar for the weekend of September 20 and 21. The event will be held at Riis Park again this year, and the event promises to be larger than ever, with more fine arts, more crafts and more food vendors.

There will be two memorial events in the coming week, dedicated to the memory of two local firefighters who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. On September 13, there will be an all-day festival of events dedicated to the memory of Steve (Bells) Belson, beginning with an ocean swim in the morning, moving on to Pier 92 for lunch and to Connolly’s for an evening and late night event. On September 20, at 11 a.m. Bayfield Avenue at Beach 69 Street will be renamed Stephen Russell Street in memory of the firefighter who lived on that street for all of his life.

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