The big battle last week was between the vice-presidential debate and the first Yankee playoff game. To the surprise of many, the debate won handily, earning a 2.7 million voters in the New York City area, while the Yankees pulled a mere 1.5 million voters. The Minnesota Twins won the game, but we’ll leave the question of who won the debate to the political pundits.
Our own Big Brother, better known as the New York City Council, is at it again. The council’s Transportation Committee is considering a new law that would make it mandatory for employers with more than 50 employees to participate in the city’s Transit Check Program, which uses pre-tax dollars to cover transportation costs. The law would require to deduct their employee’s transportation costs in advance and to issue them Metro Cards, probably whether they want them or not.
The downzoning of areas such as Forest Hills and Jamaica Hill proceeds on what, for the city council, amounts to warp speed. The new downzoning program will bar developers from ripping down old single-family homes and building multiple family units such as small apartment buildings and row houses in their stead. “Rezoning the area was the most desirable option for the community, who wanted to preserve the character of the single-family homes,” said the areas council member. The question is, then, why Rockaway areas such as Bayswater and Rockaway Park cannot have the new zoning plan as well. Perhaps our council members are not as concerned with over-development as their counterparts in central Queens.
The old advice, “Go West Young Man,” applies to some businesses in Rockaway as well. Artie, who owns “Slice of Life” Pizza, recently moved his family and his business west from Gino’s in Far Rockaway to Old Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Rockaway Beach, an area that now houses a number of new businesses. Artie says that his fifteen years of experience moved along with him and that his family is very pleased with the move.
Three American icons passed away recently, two of them on one day. Gordon Cooper was one of the seven Mercury Astronauts chosen for America’s space program. He was arguably the cockiest of the original seven who were famous for having “The Right Stuff” back in the early days when one man was stuffed into a small capsule and shot into space. He was 77. Janet Leigh, who took the most famous shower in show business history died the same day. She was 77 as well. The famous scene, from the movie “Psycho,” will probably be shown on cable television forever. A few days later, comedian Rodney Dangerfield, famous for his “Take my wife, please,” line and for “I don’t get no respect.” “My wife was really something,” he once quipped. “She wants to have sex in the back seat – only she wanted me to drive.” The three will sorely be missed and they each will be remembered for their contributions to the fabric of America.
On a more local level, Police Officer Mary Craine-Bachner, who led Rockaway’s Weed And Seed program for the past three years and who facilitated many changes in the way the peninsula addresses its youth, will retire from the NYPD shortly. The community should thank her for all of her efforts in its behalf. She will be replaced by Mike Daly of the Queens Library System when that organization becomes the new grantee for the program.
Remember the big deal that was made about selling the Board of Education’s Brooklyn headquarters – the notorious 110 Livingston Street? More than a year after Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced the $45 million deal, the transaction has yet to be completed, and it probably will not be completed until the end of 2005. It’s funny that the Mayor hasn’t made any announcement about the hold-up to rival the announcement he made when the deal was first made.
Dorothy Lewandowski recently took over as the Queens Borough Commissioner for the Parks Department. In a profile that ran in Newsday, Lewandowski said that she wants greater recreational access, “particularly so that people have access to the waterfront.” She added, “I am a kayaker and I love the water, and it’s been an agency goal of this administration to increase waterfront access. We have many opportunities to do that in Queens.” We wonder why this increased waterfront access was a priority everywhere but Rockaway, where we are surrounded by water. We’ll have to ask Lewandowski if she ever manages to find Rockaway. All that the Parks Department has done in Rockaway over the past three years is to restrict access to the beach and boardwalk time and time again.
Both of our local high schools will soon be hosting Homecoming Games to highlight their football programs. The Beach Channel High School Homecoming will be held on October 16 at 11:30 a.m. while the Far Rockaway High School Homecoming will be held on November 7 at 10 a.m. Both schools will be charging a small fee to enter. BCHS will play Long Island City, while the FRHS Homecoming will feature a game against the Dolphins of BCHS.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg, doing his own “let them eat cake” imitation, has said that the new $20 fee being charged for admission to the Museum of Modern Art is fine with him. “Some of the things people can afford, some they cannot,” the millionaire mayor said. “They [MOMA] have a right to set their own pricing schedule.” A number of local groups had complained that the increased cost would shut out the poor from the cultural institution.
One local real estate pro needs to read a map. In a recent classified ad in the Daily News, the broker identified a home at 92-11 Holland Avenue in Rockaway as being in “Belle Harbor.” We realize community boarders are fuzzy, but c’mon.