2006-04-07 / Community

Beachcomber

The lawsuits concerning the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 are moving into the final phase. Beginning this week, the plaintiffs will have to appear in federal court in front of Justice Robert Sweet to discuss the proposals that have been made to them by the consortium of Airbus Industries (the manufacturer of the Airbus A300-600 that crashed in Belle Harbor) and American Airlines. We understand from our sources that there are only 12 hardcore holdouts among the death cases. Most of those do not want to settle until they are satisfied that the real cause of the crash has been uncovered. They want the discovery process to begin anew so that Airbus has to provide documents relating to what they knew about the problems with the aircraft's rudder prior to the November, 2001 crash. There are also more than 20 property damage cases pending, all of them by Rockaway residents. The word is that Judge Sweet will pressure those who have not yet settled to do so because opening the discovery process would be long and costly. If all of the suits are settled, we will probably never know what really caused the crash despite the NTSB report that blamed the crash on pilot error.

A few long-time residents contacted The Wave to tell us that Kate Smith never lived in Rockaway, but that her manager, Ted Collins did. The word is that Smith often visited Collins at his home and that her daughter was allowed to attend St. Francis de Sales school while Smith was staying in Rockaway. Judge Jean Fox told us that Collins opened his home to many local children who became friendly with Smith's daughter and that she spent many happy hours at the home. Fox isn't sure just where the home was located, but she is sure that it was in Neponsit. Another woman, however, called to say that the house was located at Beach 113 Street right on the beach and that it had a porch that ran all the way around the house. Such it is with memory after more than 75 years.

The New York Post made Rockaway sound like a quaint New England town in its "MetroCard" story a week ago. "Ever seen a seagull from a subway train," the article asked. "The Rockaway-bound A Train heads over Jamaica Bay. As it glides over the water, you'll feel closer to Cape Cod than to Midtown Manhattan - and as a bonus you can see the planes coming and going from JFK Airport across the water. At the end of the line is Rockaway Beach, great for strolling on the boardwalk or on the sand, even in off-season. If it's warm enough and the waves are out, you can watch the surfers near Beach 98 Street [ed. Note: It is actually at Beach 88 to 90 Street]- or the skateboarders at the seaside skate park. On the way: get off at Broad Channel and stroll around this unique little community, full of bungalows overlooking the water. In season, you can even rent a boat."

You would never know by looking at the Department of Transportation's signs that you don't have to feed the parking meters on Sunday any longer. Citywide, there are 15,062 signs that say you have to pay on Sunday. It has been a few months since the rules changed, and the DOT admits that only a third of those signs have been replaced. The problem is, police in some neighborhoods, including Rockaway, continue to ticket cars that do not feed the meters on Sunday despite the fact that the NYPD has to know about the new rules. Some say that the fines will continue as long as the signs call for Sunday payment. Something's got to give.

Residents in the Beach 97 Street area are up in arms over several properties owned by Michael Marinoff that have been allowed to deteriorate to the point that they are used as hang-outs for teens who throw rocks and otherwise harass the people who live nearby. Marinoff says that the unoccupied properties will soon be demolished and the land will be sold for new development, but that can't come soon enough for those who are impacted by the empty buildings.

The Department of Education (DOE), the gang who can't shoot straight, has done it again. The principal tapped to turn around one of the most-troubled schools in the city has been charged with defrauding the Philadelphia school system of almost $200,000. Curtis Andrews was named to head the school two days after he was indicted in Pennsylvania on six counts of wire fraud stemming from his time as the head of a failed charter school. Despite that, Chancellor Klein praised Andrews and gave him the post of principal without having any New York City experience.

The Nassau County Police Department and the local newspapers that cover the Five Towns area are always blaming Rockaway for all the crime in western Nassau County. A few weeks ago, one of those papers, the "South Shore Record," quoted a NCPD deputy inspector as blaming a 75 percent jump in robberies in the Fourth Precint, which boarders Rockaway. "We had a number of street robberies and most of those 56 incidents took place on the Far Rockaway/Five Towns border and along Route 878," the Nassau police officials said. He also blamed a spate of shoplifting events on Rockaway as well. Sounds as if Nassau County has no homegrown criminals.

This Saturday, April 8 at noon, local artist Patrick Clark will unveil the glass cupola that we have all been waiting for as the final element of Tribute Park on Beach 116 Street and Beach Channel Drive. Clark says that there will be no political speeches and he wants all of the relatives of those who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 to attend.

We sometimes wonder about the judges who sit on the Appellate Court. They recently ruled that the Transit Authority (and the city) should be liable for a train hitting a Queens youth even though the man had been drinking and on the tracks trying to race a Number Seven train to the station. The court ruled that the city owed $1.4 million to the man even though he was clearly culpable in his own accident. The court said that the motorman of the train had time to stop before hitting the man because he was only running eight miles per hour. What a joke, but it's your money that the court is giving away.

As part of the state's new budget, the MTA has removed the $1 monthly fee for all motorists who have an EZ Pass device whether they use it or not. Many Rockaway residents were angered at the fee, which was imposed without fanfare and which many looked at as a toll raise without any input from residents. The budget also allows for the tax on clothing and shoes under $110 to be removed from the tax rolls. The city dropped its tax on clothing last September.

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