2003-10-03 / Columnists



Mayor Mike Bloomberg has announced a plan to make Coney Island an all-year-round destination for visitors to New York City. Those plans reportedly include a plastic bubble over the Wonder Wheel and a retractable dome over KeySpan Park. Bloomberg announced the formation of a board that will "spearhead a comprehensive plan to draft an economic development strategy" for Coney Island. "We can’t tie Coney Island’s development to warm weather alone," the Mayor said, standing on the boardwalk. How about Rockaway? Is our boardwalk chopped liver? With each passing day it becomes more clear that Coney is the favored son and Rockaway is the orphan pushed into the closet when company comes.

The first in what event coordinators hope will become an annual affair, the Duke Kahanamoku Surf Tournament will be held this Saturday, October 4 on the beach at Beach 90 Street beginning at 8 a.m. and lasting until dusk. The event, which is being held in honor of local firefighters who died at the World Trade Center, will include "all levels of surfing and body boarding." Surfers of all ages are welcome to compete. Those interested in competing in the event can pick up an application at the Tsunami Surf Shop at Beach 92 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department and the 100 Precinct Explorer program.

To many of our younger readers, the McCarthy era of the late 1940’s and 1950’s is ancient history. To those who lived through the witch hunt, however, it is still a frightening time in American history, one with resonance in the new Patriot Act. A number of Queens College professors lost their jobs because they refused to testify in the federal hearings. That era is now being chronicled at the college with a new exhibit at the Queens College library entitled, "McCarthyism At Queens College, 1947 to 1955." One of those involved with the exhibit (and, a student at the time) is Lawrence Kaplan, who recently wrote an excellent book about Rockaway’s history, "From The Ocean To The City."

State Senator Malcolm Smith will soon "adopt" Beach Channel Drive from Beach 63 to Beach 73 Streets. What that means for the area is not clear, but the word is that the local civic organization would like to develop the area so that it looks like the Arverne of old. After looking at some pictures from the 1950’s, however, we are not sure that is a good idea.

Word is that the City Planning Commission has approved the new firehouse planned by the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department on Cross Bay Boulevard. The company’s old firehouse on Noel Road is nearly 100 years old, and is no longer adequate for its needs. The volies are selling memorial bricks in the new firehouse. Anybody interested in purchasing a brick or in helping the volies in any way to build their new firehouse, should contact the Noel Road firehouse.

Anybody who rides one of the private bus services that serves Rockaway – Green Bus, Jamaica Bus or Command Bus, knows that service has deteriorated since the beginning of the summer. This impacts students who go to schools off the peninsula as well as commuters. The usual increase in services that comes with the beginning of fall did not materialize this year because the companies are in a death struggle with the city for control of the routes. The companies have recently sued the city, saying that the $100 million is subsidies they get from the city is just not enough and that service suffers as a result. It is hard to believe that when the heads of the companies continue to plow tens of thousands of dollars into political contributions to those who can insure they keep their franchises. A planned MTA takeover will probably not materialize, and the city cannot afford more subsidies. The state cannot afford to take over the services in the present financial climate. What does that mean? Poor service for riders, crowded buses, a lack of maintenance and, perhaps, some of the lines filing for bankruptcy and going out of business entirely.

The Long Island Railroad has announced that riders will be able to use the railroad within city limits on weekends for only $2.50 for a one-way ride. The catch is, the only New York City station where the plan will not be implemented is the Far Rockaway station. The MTA says that, although the station is within the city, it can only be reached through Nassau County.

There will be a blood drive at the Peninsula Hospital Center (Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 51 Street on Wednesday, October 22, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Don’t forget the Broad Channel Historical Day set for Sunday, October 5. The event, which features old pictures, letters, documents and copies of The Wave, will be held at the VFW Hall on Shad Creek Road, right off Cross Bay Boulevard. For those interested in history, this is not an event to miss.

By the way, this is the 50th anniversary of the Far Rockaway Seahorses first city football championship. Far Rockaway, coached by Jack Kerchman, embarked on the first undefeated football season in the school’s history. Members of that team went on to Villanova, Georgia, The University of Texas at El Paso, Princeton and Brooklyn College.

Beach Channel High School will have their annual Homecoming Day before the start of the Bayside-Beach Channel football game on Saturday, October 4 at 11 a.m. The Dolphins are off to a fine 3-1 record this season. And don’t forget the battle of the peninsula when Far Rockaway travels to Beach Channel in the final regular game of the season on Sunday, November 2 at 11 a.m.

Thirty years ago this week, a new ambulance squad was formed in Rockaway. Later named the Peninsula Volunteer Ambulance Corps (PVAC), the volunteers served the community for many years. Thanks to Richie Berger for the heads-up.

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