Looking Back At 2003
This is the time of the year that both individuals and organizations look back at the year that will soon end in order to assess both the highs and lows of what occurred during the past twelve months. There were many highs during the year. The housing boom continues. Arverne By The Sea has proved to be a major success, at least in its first phase. All of the homes now being built at the Beach 73 Street site have been spoken for and most have binders posted. That bodes well for the completion and success of the rest of the 2,300-home development. In addition, virtually every empty lot in Rockaway is being developed and those homes are being sold even before they are built. That boom has a downside, however. The major downside is school seats. Where will the children who move into those homes find a classroom in Rockaway schools that are overutilized at the present time? There is a plan to build new schools in Queens, but it is not certain that any of those schools will be for Rockaway. The schools provide another problem as well. Many parents continue to vote against the Rockaway schools by placing their children elsewhere or by moving from the community when their children reach middle school age. A new and controversial plan to address that problem was recently put forward by Region Five Supervising Administrator Kathy Cashin. A counter-proposal was put forth by a group of minority parents who believe that Cashin’s plan is racially-motivated. That issue will surely spill over into next year, no matter what decision is made in the short-term. The incidence of index crimes, with the exception of homicide and rape, continue to drop in Rockaway. With new commanding officers at both local precincts, we expect crime to continue to drop. We also expect that the new commanders will interact with the community in a more positive manner than those who came before. The placement of a memorial to those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001 continues to be a problem. More than two years after the crash, local politicians and community activists work to come up with a compromise that will be acceptable to both the community and to the families of those who died on the plane. There is a good possibility, however, that the New Year may find Mayor Mike Bloomberg making a decision that will not take into account the community’s feelings. Next year should be quieter than the last. The Concorde no longer flies. Rec reational needs might be filled with the inclusion of a community center in the Arverne complex (with access to all Rockaway residents) and the development of the sports megaplex at Floyd Bennett Field. Another negative, however, continues to be the restrictive beach and boardwalk access rules. Will they change this year? Will enforcement on the west end soften with the coming of a new precinct commander? What will City Councilman Joe Adda bbo, the chair of the council’s Parks Com mittee, do for his Rockaway constituents to end this yearly nightmare? We look forward to the New Year with hope and trepidation. We hope, as we always do, that it will be a good one for Rockaway.