2004-06-04 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Mark your calendar for June 16 and the Rockaway Museum’s gala fundraiser at Pier 92. For a $20 donation to the museum, you get fine entertainment, wine and finger food and a chance to do something for your community. Entertainment will be provided by Celeste Ray and Ed Deacy. Tickets are available at The Wave, 88-08 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, 718-634-4000 and in Breezy Point from Grace at 718-634-8239.

Don’t forget to contact the Community Affairs Unit at your local police precinct if you are planning to have a block party, or some other event on public property, this summer – the permitting process takes time.

Only one of the nine parents recently elected to the new Community Education Council for District 27 is from Rockaway. Matthew Regan, a PS 114 parent is the only local who made the cut, although Queens Borough President Helen Marshall told us on Tuesday that she had appointed David Hooks, a Far Rockaway resident who recently took a seat on the now-retired Community School Board, to one of the two community seats she has the right to fill under the law. That does not give much representation on the board to Rockaway, even though the peninsula’s schools house about half of the students in the district. We probably would complain louder about the problem, but the fact is that the CEC’s have so little power to do anything related to education that it doesn’t matter much who sits on the new council.

A few weeks ago, we got a call from the parent of a student at PS 43 in Edgemere. She told us that her daughter was wearing colored bracelets that each indicated a sexual act. In order to get into a club in the school, she said, her daughter had to perform the sex act denoted by the colored bracelet when it was removed from her wrist by one of the boys in the club. She said that her daughter was coerced to perform oral sex on a schoolmate to get into the club. She also said that the principal knows of the club and failed to report it to anybody in authority, including the parents. A spokesperson for the Department of Education told us that the bracelets "were just a fashion statement by the young girls," and that the principal had reported rumors of the club to both the parents and to school authorities. Since the parent and two others who contacted us with similar stories did not want to go public, we let the story die for lack of authentication. This week, however, the New York Post broke a similar story about a girl in a parochial school in Richmond Hill with a similar "sex game." We called the DOE once more for comment on our original story, but are still waiting for a callback.

There are lots of activities going on in Rockaway this weekend. On Saturday into Sunday, the National Cancer Society will be hosting its local "Relay For Life" at Beach Channel High School. The event calls for at least one member of each team to continue walking around the school track all evening. There will be a sale of "luminaries," memorial candles that can be dedicated to one who was lost to cancer or to a cancer survivor. The luminaries will be lit in a moving ceremony after dark on Saturday night. The first annual Arverne By The Sea Bike Races will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Shore Front Parkway and Beach 73 Street. There will be a number of races for both professionals and amateurs. The course takes riders on both the boardwalk and on Rockaway streets.

Rockaway resident Gerry Cronin has announced his intention to run for the House of Representatives against Anthony Weiner in the upcoming election. A week ago, Cronin, who has run for office on the Right To Life ticket in the past, won the endorsement of the Queens County Conservative Party and plans to meet with Queens Republicans to seek that line as well. Cronin, a teacher, runs the Monsignor Ferris Life Center.

One of the most important events in the revitalization of Rockaway took place last week with the opening of Arverne By The Sea. Newsday reporter Glenn Thrush was there, but the only story he saw in the day’s events was to ask Borough President Helen Marshall (who was present to help cut the ribbon on the massive project) about the problems she was having for using flashing lights and sirens on her private cars. The only mention of the new housing was at the end of a quote by Mayor Bloomberg where Thrush wrote, "he said after a ceremony celebrating the first 27 houses in the federally subsidized Arverne By The Sea development in the Rockaways." Perhaps Newsday should send Thrush to The Wave to find out what’s really important in Rockaway.

The New York City Council has launched a new website that will provide information on council activities as well as a link to contact local council members. The Website can be reached at www.nyccouncil.info. The site will also provide updates on meetings and hearings.

It is a fact of life that Rockaway’s beaches are more beautiful than most of the beaches in the world, but must take second fiddle to the Coney Island beaches. Our beaches are 7.5 miles long. Our boardwalk, at 6.2 miles, is the second longest in the nation (after Atlantic City). The Coney Island beaches, however, had 8.8 million visitors last year against 1.4 million who came to Rockaway and 900,000 who came to Riis Park. The reason can be seen in the comments of the daily papers who recently did features on local beaches. In the Daily News, for example, under comments, the Rockaway beaches are lauded for receiving more sand this year. The Coney Island beaches are cited for Nathan’s, amusement parks, The Cyclones at KeySpan Park, the Aquarium, and all of the transportation that moves people to Coney. The city is partially responsible for the revitalization of Coney Island and the continued summer decline of Rockaway’s beaches and amenities with its economic policy and its restrictive rules.


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