2004-09-24 / Community

Beachcomber

Rockaway resident Serge Gauvard swims two miles each day, regardless of the weather and the season. On September 9, Gauvard was coming out of the water on Beach 128 Street when he noticed that there were helicopters as well as FDNY and NYPD launches searching the waters to the east. When he got home, he asked a neighbor what was going on and he was told that they were searching for a man in the water, wearing swim fins, that they feared had drowned. Realizing that they were looking for him, Gayvard went back to the beach to tell police that he was o.k. and that they could call off the search. For doing the right thing, Fauvard got a ticket for “failing to comply with a [no swimming when lifeguard is not on duty] sign.

The Associated Press is running a story that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has completed its investigation into the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001 and will hold its final report in Washington, D.C. sometime prior to the third anniversary of the crash. The Wave had that story in this column at least two weeks ago.

The word is spreading that there is a new environmental group dedicated to beach issues forming in Rockaway. The first meeting of what is being called the “Rockaway Environmental Committee” held an initial planning meeting at RBI’s on Beach 90 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard on Tuesday, September 21. On the agenda were such items as public access to the beach, water quality, community involvement and recreational uses. It’s hard, however, to take an environmental meeting held at a local bar very seriously.

If you deducted the politicians and those who work for the DEC, KeySpan Energy and LIPA from the number of people who attended the recent meeting to discuss the clean-up of the Class II Toxic Waste Site at Beach 108 Street and Beach Channel Drive two weeks ago, you could have counted the number of people at the meeting on one hand, a fact decried by Rockaway Beach Civic Association head Dolores Orr. Its hard to show state authorities that we are serious about an issue when only two or three people show up to discuss that issue.

The City Council, never shy in attacking an issue that might give its members some press, is “scrutinizing” the way the NYPD handled the protesters during the recent Republican National Convention. One lawyer who testified before the council said that she had entered an NYPD “frozen zone” – an area put off limits to pedestrians nearby Ground Zero. She was threatened with arrest if she did not leave the area. “It is my first amendment right to watch the demonstration [that was going on nearby],” she told police. When the officer told her that it was a frozen zone, the lawyer decided to “sacrifice my Constitutional rights and not get arrested. This was a chilling and far-reaching impact on my rights.” This is the drivel that the council considers significant. The fact is, the NYPD saved the Mayor’s bacon and kept the city safe. The council, a body that does little to assist New Yorker’s, should go back to doing what it does best — naming streets.

A local resident put up a memorial to those who died on September 11, 2001 on the bayfront at Beach 128 Street recently. The memorial, made of three pieces of I-Beam, weighed hundreds of pounds. Despite that, the Parks Department came with a pay-loader on Monday morning and removed it.

Saide Palmer, the young Rockaway teen who had the presence of mind to throw a basketball as a life preserver to a young boy drowning in Jamaica Bay in August was named last week as a “Liberty Medal” nominee by the New York Post.

Speaking of memorials, it is clear that Mayor Mike Bloomberg wants to announce a site for an AA 587 memorial when he speaks to the expected crowds on November 12 of this year – the third anniversary of the crash. The city has sent a letter to the families of the victims of the crash – including the crew and those who died on the ground, asking them to vote yes or no on a site at the southern end of Beach 116 Street. The families are warned, however, that if they vote no, they may not see a memorial in their lifetimes. Each family gets one vote, and the votes have to be in by September 24, just in time for Bloomberg to make a November 12 announcement. The Wave has been told that no city money will be used for the memorial, that it will all be privately funded.

We know you have been waiting for the annual New York City Department of Health report on the most popular names given to babies born in the city. So, here it is. The most popular girl’s name last year was Emily, while the most popular boy’s name was Michael. Second place finishers were Ashley and Justin. The most popular girl’s name among Black residents was Kayla, while the most popular boy’s name for Black families was Justin.

The St. John’s Home For Boys on Beach 109 Street in Rockaway has won second place in the Administration For Children’s Services ratings issued recently. The home, which has been a problem for Rockaway for many years, moved from 14th place to 2nd place with a 91.20 rating. All of the ACS congregate care facilities are rated each year on a number of factors.

School crime jumped 12 percent last year. The Department of Education says that the jump is due to better reporting of crime and a stronger discipline code. Teachers and administrators, however, say that the jump in both serious and minor crimes is real, and that nothing will be done to better education in the city until the crime and discipline questions are addressed in a serious and realistic manner.

The Village Voice has long been known as the most Liberal newspaper in New York. It outdid itself two weeks ago, with a full-page naming those who were arrested at demonstrations in Manhattan during the Republican National Convention by titling the page, “Honor Roll.” By the way, there were 1,763 names on the list.

Cheers to the Knights of Columbus for allowing Community Board 14 to meet in its hall free of charge. Jeers to the new owners of McDonalds, who yanked the hot coffee and snacks that made the monthly meetings more bearable for all.

Hector Algarroba called from the Dominican Republic to say that The Wave mischaracterized his role in the AA 587 family movement when we said that he speaks for a group of victims. Hector is the President of the HHS Foundation, which raised money for sports programs in the Dominican Republic and, although both of his parents were on the fated plane, he does not speak for any group or individual family members except for himself.

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