2004-05-14 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Somebody torched a mailbox at Beach 105 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard on Saturday afternoon, incinerating all of the mail in the box. Postal officials are asking anybody who placed mail in that box after its Saturday morning pickup to check and make sure that the mail got to where it was sent. This is a praticular problem for those who posted paid bills and checks in that box before it was firebombed.

On Mother’s Day last year, about 30 mourners came to the corner of Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue for a memorial service to honor those who died on American Airlines Flight 587 on November 12, 2001. This year, only a few hardy souls showed up to leave pictures, notes and bouquets of flowers clustered about the sign that the city placed at the site on the last anniversary of the crash. The lack of interest this year seems to vindicate the feelings of many locals that a major memorial is not needed on the peninsula.

Construction workers took Congressman Anthony Weiner to task last week for refusing to back the plan that would bring the New York Jets football team to the west side of Manhattan. The workers brought their giant inflatable rat to Weiner’s Kew Gardens office building, a sure sign that he is in disfavor with labor, at least on this issue. Weiner wants the stadium to be built in Queens. How will this impact on Weiner’s run for Mayor next year? Nobody is sure.

A new rule recently put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may well force some Rockaway beaches to close this coming season. While the old rules provided for closing the beaches if the E.coli bacteria count got too high, the new rules are far more restrictive, using something called Enterococci as the marker. City officials say the change is based on data that is more than 30 years old and should be revised.

Congratulations to Malaina Cheeks and Andrenna Gibson, who were recently honored by Newsday as its Everyday Heroes. The two young ladies, friends for more than 20 years, are the founding members of the Reverend Mason Community Center Youth Council, which they started in 1994.

At the same time that Mayor Bloomberg is hailing New York City’s teachers as "New York’s Brightest," he fails to address the fact that the changes made since he took over the system are forcing teachers to leave in droves, mainly because they no longer have any say over how or what they teach and because the mayor and his crew have failed to resolve the raging discipline problem. A recent study shows that more than 70 percent of teachers with at least 25 years of experience plan to retire in the next two years. More frightening is the finding that 26 percent of mid-career teachers plan to leave as well and that rookie teachers leave in droves prior to their five-year mark. Some claim that salaries are the key, with many teachers moving on to Nassau and upstate counties. The median income in New York City is $47,345, while like salaries in Nassau are $66,262 and in Scarsdale, $90,000. Other venues have been taking our best teachers or years, but the trend is now upward.

Officials of the Coalition Against No Parking Signs (CANPAS) say they have several hundred signatures on their petitions calling for a expeditious reevaluation of the signs prior to the summer season. "It has been publicized and we have been told that a review will take place after the summer," a CANPAS spokesperson says. "This is not acceptable to the majority of residents in our community. A study of this area should have taken place with the original parking restrictions in order to establish if safety is an issue." The group has gone to both City Councilman Joe Addabbo and Community Board 14 District Manager Jon Gaska for relief.

The Mayor has approved 94 street re-namings proposed by the City Council. Among them are three Rockaway residents, all of whom died at the World Trade Center: Beach 91 Street and the Boardwalk will be renamed "Richie Allen’s Way," in honor of Firefighter Allen; Beach 124 Street and the Boardwalk will be renamed "Lisa King Johnson Promenade" in honor of Johnson and Beach 94 Street and Holland Avenue will be renamed Terrance McShane Boulevard in honor of the dead firefighter. No dates have yet been set for the memorial renamings that will be held for each.

Get ready for some community awareness this weekend when the Collaboration For Unity In The Rockaway Community (CURC) holds its first annual Rockaway Fun Walk/Run for Community Unity and Health Awareness. The event will begin at Beach 73 Street and Beach Channel Drive, the starting point for the walk/run. The event ends at Bayswater Park (Bay 32 Street and BCD) with a health fair featuring screenings for such diseases as Asthma, Diabetes and others. Blood pressure screenings and cholesteral screening will be done as well.

The death of pro football player Pat Tillman has sparked interest in other pro athletes who left their careers behind and went to war. Some of them are famous. Ted Williams, for example, left the Boston Red Sox after winning the a number of major awards in 1942 to become a Marine fighter pilot in WW II. He did the same, leaving once again for Korea. New York Yankee second baseman Gerry Coleman did the same. Pittsburgh Steeler running back Rocky Blier was wounded in Vietname and returned to play 12 more seasons. Hank Greenburg, after winning his second straight MVP award with the Detroit Tigers, enlisted in the Army Air Corps and led a bomber squadron in the Far East. Warren Spahn, the pitching great, left to become an Army engineer in his rookie season and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was wounded. Came back to win 363 games. That kind of patriotism puts today’s players to shame.

Another story that illustrates that the city can’t win and that no good turn goes unpunished. Officials at America On Line in Virginia were warned by a user that another man in a chat room was about to commit suicide. Those officials tapped into the chat room and agreed that the man’s demise was imminent. They contacted the NYPD’s computer unit, who concurred. Police officers rushed to the man’s Brooklyn home. When police arrived at the home, they found the man in the basement and he refused to come out. After an hour-long standoff, ESU officers broke in and took the man to Coney Island Hospital for observation and testing. Now, the unidentified man is saying that he was never serious about committing suicide in the first place and is now contemplating a lawsuit against AOL and the city for violating his civil rights.


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