2004-07-02 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Each warm day, The Wave receives dozens of phone calls complaining about conditions on the beach, from a lack of lifeguards to Park Enforcement Police (PEP) who act more like Gestapo than like those who are supposed to keep our beaches safe. We have been told over and over again that the PEP are not consistent. One fisherman told us that he was fishing on Beach 109 Street on Saturday when PEP Officer Hynes chased him off the beach. On Sunday, however, he was back and a number of PEP officers passed him by without saying a word. On Wednesday morning a week ago, several people called to say that there were no lifeguards on a number beaches west of Beach 117 Street and yet people were swimming on those beaches as PEP officers drove by on their dune-buggies without a word of warning. Days before, however, a man got four tickets for sitting on a closed beach and a Wave employee was chased off a closed beach simply for speed-walking across the sand. I came to Rockaway because of the beach, local resident Tom McCabe told The Wave. "If I can’t use the beach, then why live here?" McCabe says that one PEP officer told him, "You can either get off the beach or go to jail."

There are lots of parents unhappy about the appointment of John Comer as the new principal of MS 180 despite the assurances of Kathleen Cashin that he is the perfect person for the job. Those who oppose his appointment point to his lack of experience and the fact that cronyism apparently come back to the district for the first time since the days of the suspended school board. Comer’s father was the superintendent of schools in District 21 and Comer’s sister teaches at PS 114. Comer is the nephew of a Beach Channel High School assistant principal. "All in the Family" seems to have returned to Rockaway.

A retired teacher recently brought us a copy of this year’s Global History and Geography Regents. He was laughing as he pointed out an obvious mistake on the first page of the 22-page test. There, printed as large and as clear as could be was "Regents in Global Histroy and Geography." Seems even the state ed department can’t get it right.

The Wave argued for years that an outlet mall such as the Tanger Mall in Riverhead would be a perfect fit for the eastern end of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area. That outlet has more than 165 stores, including some of the largest retailers in the nation. Think about that for a moment. 165 stores multiplied by two shifts of workers a day, multiplied by five or six workers on each shift. Think that that would do to unemployment in Rockaway. Think of all the money it would bring from Nassau County, Queens and Brooklyn. Now, Tanger is opening a new mall in Deer Park, closer in on Long Island. Why not Rockaway? That’s a question we have been trying to have answered for a long time.

City Councilman Joe Addabbo’s Office has received numerous anonymous complaint letters alleging dangerous conditions in the Seaside Park – specifically the wooden plank bridge. Addabbo wants the author of those letters to know that Parks Dept. maintenance workers inspected the bridge and determined that it’s structurally sound and working as it should.

Many people would think that shooting a movie on their street would be exciting. The residents of Beach 143 Street and 144 Street no longer think so. A movie company has been shooting on their streets for weeks and the complaints are pouring in: kids can’t even cross the street safely; police and fire equipment are parked on the street day and night, including, at one time, the truck from Battalion 47; large keg lights are so bright into the late night hours that many residents cannot sleep comfortably in their own bedrooms; trucks that dispense food and other accoutrements clog the street, keeping residents out of their own driveways; people who complain are rebuffed by the movie-makers as well as by the police officers assigned by the city’s film unit to monitor the set. "This has become a real insult to the residents in the area," one caller said. "As taxpayers, we wonder why our tax money is going to hassle us without end."

Ending an argument that has been going on in Rockaway for years, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that people do not have a Constitutional right to refuse to tell police their name. The 5-4 decision was made in a case of a Nevada cattle rancher who refused to give police his name or his identification when he was stopped late at night on a rural road. In the decision, the court said "[disclosing an identity] is insignificant in the scheme of things." New York has a law similar to Nevada’s, which makes failure to disclose an identity a misdemeanor.

A Newsday editorial recently ranked the Queens delegation in the House of Representatives, including our two local members, Anthony Weiner and Gregory Meeks. Of Weiner, the paper says, "[Weiner] makes no bones about his devotion to district issues. That’s good for his constituents as well as long-ignored treasures such as Gateway National Park. And every now and then his hard work pays off for all Americans, as in the case of successful legislation that gave families of plane crash victims greater access to investigative hearings. Of Meeks, the paper says, "During his three years in Congress [Meeks] has shown a talent for multitasking. He manages to serve his district well – all the while he inches his way up the greasy flagpole of national power and influence."

Riding the AirTrain at JFK can be a nightmare. With inadequate signs, and no staff present to direct weary travelers, navigating oneself around the airport is a difficult task. Some trains go to Jamaica – others go to Howard Beach – and a third set of trains stay within the airport terminals. Only after asking a JFK employee, did one Wave staff member find out which train to take. With unmanned trains and no one in the stations to answer questions, confused travelers (a large portion of which are tourists who do not speak English that well) the Air Train is neglecting travelers. While it is a smooth, nice ride, it is overpriced at five dollars and horribly under-serviced.

The city is warning those who hold street fairs and block parties during the summer months to make sure that the children’s rides they hire for those

parties are safe and are licensed by the city. According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, inspectors will come to all street fairs and block parties and check out the rides. Not only are ride operators responsible for licensing, but those who hired them as well and there are large fines for non-compliance. In addition, all street fairs and block parties must have a permit in order to operate on city streets.


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