2004-07-09 / Columnists


The latest word on walking on the beach is that you can walk across a "closed" beach, but you can’t stop, even to pick something up, if you are between the lifeguard stand and the water. That is considered to be "bathing." You can stop and even sit down on a "closed" beach if you are between the lifeguard stand and the boardwalk (or, for those west of Beach 126 Street, between the lifeguard stand and the sea wall). This information comes from Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who seems to be the only local politician genuinely interested in Rockaway residents getting some enjoyment from their beach. It does not come from the city, and that means it could change at any moment at the whim of a lifeguard or Parks Enforcement Police Of-ficer.

Congressman Anthony Weiner made his Tonight Show debut recently, well sort of. In a regular segment, Jay Leno was reading goofy headlines and advertisements. One of them was "Weiner Helps Infertile Couples." We checked – it wasn’t one of ours!

There has been some back and forth with regard to who saved whom during last weeks rescue of teenage girls on Beach 116 Street. Some local firemen say they saved a police officer, but the cops say ‘no way.’ The missing link could be Brendan O’Connor, a civilian who was also on the scene. Either way, nobody was seriously injured, so does it really matter?

We want to offer a genuine goodbye and thank you to the members of Community Board 27, whose service was ended on July 1 by the formation of new Community Education Councils. While we understand that some district boards were corrupt and venal, the board that represented Rockaway schools for the past dozen years was one of the best, concerned with the needs of both parents and children and dedicated to being fair to all segments of our diverse community. They will be missed on the public scene.

There have been a number of shark scares on Long Island’s south shore this summer, including a recent scare over a 200-pound shark that was spotted in the water at neighboring Long Beach. According to published reports, the shark was visible from the beach and hundreds of bathers were removed from the water for about a half-hour until the shark disappeared.

The Rockaway Chamber of Commerce has a grant that allows it to help members who want to purchase new fabric for their awnings at half price. Those businesses that are interested, however, have to get into the plan prior to July 30. After that date, the program will be opened to the general public and the grant money will go quickly.

According to a Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) report, the population of Rockaway grew by 5,973 persons between the 1990 and 2000 census. The decade prior to that, 1980 to 1990, the peninsula grew by only 198 persons. The largest growth, the report says, was in Rockaway Beach, Far Rockaway and Arverne. We can’t wait to see that same report 10 years from now, what with Arverne By The Sea and all of the other new housing developments on the peninsula.

The new principal of Far Rockaway High School will be Denise Hallett, who has had a number of previous administrative assignments, including a stint as Assistant Principal, Security at Robeson High School and a time at the Brooklyn Regional High School office. Hallett replaces Cheryll Jones, who was one of the 45 principals fired or reduced in grade by Chancellor Joel Klein in his recent crack-down.

A few residents called to ask why the organizers of a gay and lesbian theme day held at Riis Park recently had permission for those taking part to drink beer on the beach when people one block east in Rockaway were ticketed for the same behavior. The Feds have very different rules from the city and most of those rules are more relaxed and reasonable.

The New York City Police Department is warning residents once again that fireworks are not toys. The NYPD is particularly warning young people that "firecrackers" such as M-80’s are not to be taken lightly, that they can blow off fingers and entire hands as well as injuring eyes. Those who want further information about fireworks or want to dispose of fireworks should call 311.

A small, endangered mint plant has stalled construction on a $100 million retail development in Staten Island. The Torrey’s Mountain Mint grows nearby a new retail mall and construction has been halted while developers try and figure out what to do about the endangered species. The mint has already cost the developer more than $100,000 and promises to double or even triple that amount before the project can proceed. Now, if only our Piping Plovers would move to Staten Island as well.

Pete Hamill is a respected journalist with a stint as Editor of the New York Daily News and a number of fiction works on his resume as well. All that does not matter one bit to the City University of New York, an organization that is looking for a dean to build its journalism program to national status. Hamill has been turned down for the job because he does not have the proper academic credentials. "I never graduated from anything but grammar school," Hamill says.

Pitchers Jennifer Pompanio and Dawn Duggan were named to the Newsday All-city team. Pompanio, who will attend the University of Tampa, led Bishop Kearney to the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens championship with a 6-4 win over Mary Louis Academy. She won 17 games this year and hit .514. Duggan helped Midwood win the PSAL City Softball Championship in 2003 and continued her great success in 2004. She compiled a 13-2 record and struck out 131 batters in 95 innings. Duggan will attend Molloy College.

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