I have been cleaning my crystal ball for the past two days, hoping to fill you in on what will happen in and to Rockaway in 2004. Unfortunately, the crystal ball cleaner I generally use is made from cow innards and is in short supply now, so the ball is a little cloudy this year. Therefore, I could only see a few months in advance. Here’s January to April. Look in this space in the future for more predictions.
January: The mayor announces a crackdown on school violence, saying that Far Rockaway High School is one of the 12 most violent schools in the city. Beach Channel High School students, angered that they missed out, riot and police have to be called to quell the insurrection. At least 26 students are arrested, but all are back in the school the following day. When asked about the return of the students to the school, the mayor says, "even new rules are made to be broken."
Several young men who live in the Redfern Houses are shot nearby Bayswater Park when they look the wrong way at a group of Ocean Bay Apartment residents who happen to be carrying Tech-Nines in anticipation of a post-New Year’s party.
Region Five superintendent Kathleen Cashin refuses for the 310th time since the school year began to speak with The Wave, which only wanted to take a picture of a fundraising event at a local school.
City Councilman Joe Addabbo said that he is working with Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to "review the beach rules" for the coming summer season. "Things will be better this summer," he says, alluding to the transfer of Captain Charles Talamo.
Congressman Anthony Weiner announces that aircraft departing runway 31 left at JFK Airport will soon have to use a flight path taking them away from Belle Harbor. "I promised this was coming in 2001," Wiener said. "We’re almost there." Weiner also commented on the proposed swimming pool for Riis Park. "We’re going to do a real study this year, which will cost about $400 thousand, but we’ll know if the natatorium can be done."
February: Liz Sulik, the executive director of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce resigns her position to become President George Bush’s National Security Advisor. "I’m happy that I’m moving to a job with less pressure and one where I can be home more often," Sulik said at a national press conference. Bush said that Sulik’s work with the chamber’s executive board more than qualified her for the job of dealing with Iraq and North Korea.
Region Five superintendent Kathleen Cashin announced the "Channel View Academy" for grades 6-12 at Beach Channel High School. Applications are handed out to parents of fifth grade students at every school in Rockaway. At the end of the month-long application process, however, there were no takers. One parent asks Cashin, "How can I send my 11-year-old daughter to a school that houses lots of 17 and 18-year-olds?" Cashin responds that the school is perfectly safe for children of all ages. The next day, a riot at the school puts several football team members in the hospital.
City Councilman Joe Addabbo announces that he is very close to a deal with the city for a change in the beach rules. "You will love what we’re going to do," Addabbo tells The Wave.
Four youths are shot outside Far Rockaway High School when one young man from Hammels accidentally bumps into the girlfriend of a young man from Ocean Bay.
March: The Rockaway Chamber of announces that the Rockaway Tribute Park will not have a "third rock" in tribute to those who died in Flight 587, adding that the park would be ready by April 15. That afternoon, Mayor Bloomberg announces that the Rockaway Tribute Park will have two more monuments, one for those who died on the plane and another for those who died on the ground. "There is always room for one more memorial," Bloomberg said. "I found at least three people who thought that it would be a good idea, and that’s enough consensus for me," he added, saying that the rest of the community does not understand the problem.
Democratic District Leader for Rockaway, Lew Simon is appointed the new executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. "It’s about time Lew had a real job," Chamber president John Lepore said.
When locals point out that planes are still flying over Belle Harbor, Congressman Anthony Weiner says, "We’re working on that."
Arverne-By-The-Seadevelopers announce that the first phase will be open for people to move in by July 4 and that phase II would begin shortly thereafter.
April: The Chamber of Commerce fires Lew Simon. New signs are put up along the boardwalk announcing that the Beach would now be open from 10 a.m. to noon each day and that the boardwalk would close at 4:30 every afternoon. No surfing would be allowed, nor would sitting on the beach or digging sandcastles. "This is a very dangerous area," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a prepared statement. "We have to protect our Rockaway residents from themselves. Joe Addabbo says, "Benepe only has the best interests of Rockaway in mind."
Region Five superintendent Kathleen Cashin announces a new plan for the reorganization of MS 180, the seventh plan of the year. "We have worked hard to make this new plan one that can be accepted by everybody," Cashin says. "This will allow every kid who wants to come to the school to do so and will also allow them the freedom to do whatever they want once they get there." Parents from PS 114 vow to boycott the school if the new plan is put into effect. Cashin yells at the PS 114 parent leaders, telling them that they are unreasonable and that they are hindering the progress of education in Rockaway. Cashin refuses to comment to The Wave on the plan, the 750th time for the year, a new record for school superintendents, breaking Matt Bromme’s record by two.
Thirty-five students are arrested at Beach Channel High School for bringing guns to school. They are reinstated the next day when the regional superintendent rules that they were only trying to protect themselves.
Eleven young men are shot on Gateway Boulevard. A quick search by The Wave reveals that all of them had extensive drug records.
Congressman Greg Meeks, who is well known for his many trips leaves on an around-the-world fact-finding trip financed by major corporations. Meeks says that the trip, which will last for several months, will probably bring us some business. .
Hundreds picket the new Tribute Park, arguing that the park should be for the September 11 victims alone. Mayor Bloomberg orders police to arrest all of the demonstrators for tying to stop him from doing what he wants to do. He vows that the park will never open unless the Flight 587 victims are included. "I made a promise that I intend to keep whether the community likes it or not," Bloomberg says.