On The Scale Of Justice, The Duke Does Not Weigh In
Let’s see. On one hand we have Richie Allen, a Rockaway firefighter who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. On the other hand, we have Duke Kahanamaku, the famous Hawaiian surfer and Olympic star who may or may not have brought surfing to Rockaway in the early 1900’s. Which of the two is more deserving in having Beach 91 Street and the Boardwalk named in his honor. Richie lived in Belle Harbor, but he surfed regularly at Beach 91 Street, served as a lifeguard there as well as on many other Rockaway beaches and produced a college video about surfing on that beach. The Duke probably did come to Rockaway somewhere around 1912 to put on surfing demonstration nearby Beach 38 Street. There is a small article in The Wave announcing his coming, but no follow-up story that proves he really came. In any case, Beach 38 Street was named for the Duke more than a decade ago. Now, that street is being demapped due to the plan for the Arverne By The Sea project and proponents want another street named in his honor, though the beachfront at Beach 38 Street still exists and so does the boardwalk. When Allen’s family went to Community Board 14 to get the street named for the firefighter, they were told that the Rockaway Beach Civic Association had already approved the street being named for the Duke. In order for a street to be renamed for a person, the local civic association must sign on. The civics suggested another street for Allen, but the family held fast in their desire and the community board tabled its decision until something can be worked out. The Rockaway Beach Civics, however, seem to be holding fast . City Councilman Joseph Addabbo says that he will do what the community wants, that he has no legal basis for making the decision on his own. "As soon as CB 14 sends me a letter detailing what the community wants, I will bring it to the council," Addabbo said. That means the Rockaway Beach Civic Association has the final say. We believe however, that the choice is clear. Although the city says that there can be two names on one street, we still believe that the community board should name Beach 91 Street for Allen and find another street for the Duke. It’s a matter of justice and the scales of justice have never been more unbalanced.