2005-11-25 / Community

Beachcomber

Every once on a while we like to remind our readers that the opinion pieces that you find in the columns scattered throughout the paper are solely the opinion of the columnist and not necessarily that of the newspaper or its publisher.

Explain to us if you can why a tribute to those Rockaway residents who died from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center had to be funded with private money while a tribute to those who died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 is being funded partially with $1 million in public money. It would seem to us that it should have been the other way around. Those who died at the World Trade Center died in the first battle of the war against terrorism. There is a public good in building them a memorial. Those who died in the crash did so in a tragic accident and the memorial should have been funded by public donations or by Airbus and American Airlines, who, we continue to believe share the blame for the crash.

A Senate panel has approved a $2 billion tax credit for a proposed rail link between JFK Airport and Manhattan, something that is sorely needed. We do think, however, that our city politicians should get together with our state politicians and find a way to extend that link to Rockaway, which would then open up the desired one-seat trip from Rockaway to Manhattan. The link would also serve to get local residents to jobs at the airport much more quickly.

Hostos College in the Bronx recently broke ground for a tribute to those who died on American Airlines Flight 587. That brings to six the number of memorials to the crash. There is a small plaque at the crash site (Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue), a large memorial in Benin, Dominican Republic (where many city Dominicans go rather than to the memorial services in Rockaway, a memorial to the parishioners who died at St. Francis de Sales Church in Belle Harbor, a large grove of trees with a plaque at Astoria Park and a small memorial placed by the MTA in a park at West 177 Street and Carbrini Boulevard in Washington Heights. The planned $2 million memorial at Beach 116 Street will be the seventh.

Tucker Carlson, the host of “The Situation” on MSNBC had as a guest last week Steve Jones, a professor at Brigham Young University who posited the idea that the World Trade Center was brought down not by planes manned by Islamic terrorists, but by “thermite bombs” that had been seeded around the buildings by some other group. “Muslims are probably not to blame after all,” Jones told Carlson. The host said that he invited the professor on in the “interest of open-mindedness,” but we wonder how far television hosts will go to build viewers.

Those who love their dogs are heartened by the word that City Councilman Joseph Addabbo has agreed to study the question of putting a dog run on the beach somewhere in the west end. Addabbo is reportedly putting together a committee of residents to come up with recommendations and has promised to listen carefully to what they have to say. Many locals have been using the little-used hockey rink on Beach 108 Street as an ad-hoc dog walk, but something more permanent is needed. The Department of Parks has opened dozens of dog runs throughout the city and we cannot see why Rockaway can’t get one of its own.

Every driver has dreamed of a device that would allow them to change a red light to green just as they approached the intersection. Now, such a device exists, but it will be used solely by emergency responders and city buses. In fact, the city is thinking about buying the device for police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and buses (to keep them on schedule). The program will probably be tested in Staten Island before it hits the rest of the city.

Those who travel far and wide to sail out into the ocean in order to spot dolphins, whales or seals now have a place slightly closer to home. The Riverhead Foundation, located in Riverhead, is sponsoring seal watching cruises from Point Lookout in Long Beach. The cruise takes in the seal population in Hempstead Bay and a naturalist is aboard each cruise to talk about the marine life that the cruise encounters. There are trips scheduled from January 7 to April 23. Reservations are required and you can get further information by calling (631) 369-9840 and all proceeds go towards the Marine Mammal Stranding Program.

School Chancellor Joel Klein has come up with a way to cut teacher costs in half. He wants middle and high school students to attend school for only three hours a day instead of the current six hours. The remainder of the day, students would pursue “independent study projects.” Sure they would! Klein says that he got the idea from colleges, where students attend class on an average of only 11 hours each week.

The community continues to mourn the passing of Pastor Donald Ventura who was involved not only in the peninsula’s churches, but was a founding officer of Lighthouse, Inc., which ran The Rock Ambulance Corps. The 100 Precinct Community Council stopped its business for a moment of silence at its meeting last week. Ventura died too young and he will be missed by the community at large.

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