2006-05-12 / Community

Beachcomber

The Airbus A320 was a few minutes from touchdown last week when it disappeared from the radar screens and crashed into the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. All 113 people on board, most of them Armenians, were killed in the crash. When divers went to the crash scene the found that the aircraft had disintegrated when it hit the water. There were pictures of the plane's tail being pulled from the water by a crane. That picture was dj vu for many who remember a similar scene after American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 with the same composite tail as the A320, crashed into Rockaway producing scenes of the tail being pulled out of Jamaica Bay. While nobody is sure what caused the Russian crash (there was bad weather at the time), one former airline pilot said that he believes that the Armenian A320 is a victim of a delaminated tail, just as was AA 587 and a number of other A300 series aircraft that have suffered "upsets" when either the tail or the rudder separated from the plane while it was in the air. We wonder when the NTSB, which recently issued an order for all airlines flying the A300 series to closely inspect the tails for delaminations that could cause separation.

Which is more important, views of the beach or a dune system that could keep beachfront homes safe in case of a hurricane. Long Beach, a community just east of Rockaway, is struggling with just that question, and those who are fighting a system of jetties and dunes proposed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. This story is germane to Rockaway as well, because many west end residents have been fighting against dunes for years. The government's $98.5 million proposal for Long Beach would include work from Lido Beach to Atlantic Beach, strengthening existing jetties, building seven new jetties and placing 16.6 million cubic yards of dredged sand on the beach to create a new dune structure all along the beach. There are many in the community opposed to the plan. The Surfriders, a lobbying group for surfers, say that the plan will ruin surfing at Long Beach for a generation. Then, there are those who live in the many luxury buildings along the beachfront that say that the dunes will ruin their view of the ocean, something they pay dearly for. City officials will soon vote on whether to accept the plan or not. If they turn it down, bring it to Rockaway. We could use dunes on our beaches as well particularly if that "100-year storm" hits. Of course, many in the west end would probably fight the proposal just as some in Long Beach have. We have heard the argument that dunes keep people from watching their kids on the beach and destroy sight lines before. You'd think, however, that A devistating hurricane such as Katrina might have taught those ant-dune activists a lesson.

The Wave ran a story some time ago about the fact that Far Rockaway High School had graduated three Nobel Laureates, more than any other high school in the city. We were wrong. A small story in the Daily News last week reminded us that James Madison High School in Brooklyn graduated four. Oh, well. Can't win them all.

Local residents have been calling to say that there seems to be an increase in the number of dead birds dotting the peninsula. One resident emailed us to say that she had seen a dead pheasant on BCD, as well as many dead seagulls, several pigeons and at least one duck lying on Rockaway streets. Others have told us the same. "I can't help but wonder how a bird flu pandemic, if it ever does come, will impact a community that has so many migratory birds flying over it in the first place," our correspondent says.

We want to apologize to City Councilman James Sanders for failing to recognize that the front page photograph of Makai Jackson turning himself in to police was taken at his office and not the office of State Senator Malcolm Smith, as the caption for the photograph said.

The agreement to revitalize the Far Rockaway Shopping Center may well be the key to the revitalization of that key shopping area. While nobody is yet talking about what stores and restaurants will be put into the shopping center, it has to be better than what is now in place. We remember when it was a vital shopping area, with restaurants, Martin Paints, several small specialty shops, a pharmacy and a large supermarket. This deal has been long in coming because the brother and sister who owned the shopping center were feuding and refused to allow it to be fixed up. Now, however, under the prodding of local politicians and the threat of the state taking it by eminent domain, a deal has finally been cut and it will certainly benefit the entire peninsula.

Congressman Anthony Weiner took the media on a tour of the new athletic facilities being built in Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The new facility, which is slated to open in September, will one day rival Chelsea Piers as a recreation destination. We hope! Meanwhile, Weiner is locked in a battle with other politicians and with actor Paul Newman over a plan to put a car-racing track into Floyd Bennett Field as well. Newman's plan would call for three days of racing each year. Weiner says that the car-racing plan is illegal and he will fight it to his dying breath. It's hard to understand why some sports, such as ice hockey and soccer are ok, while others, such as car racing are not. Actually, we would prefer a NASCAR superspeedway to the open-wheel track that Newman proposes, but we suppose we can't have everything.

We would not have thought it possible, but there are still some locals who do not know that there is a municipal parking lot near the northern end of Beach 116 Street, where the city is building a new transit police station. On long-time resident said that he thought it was for commuter parking only. Another told me that she thought it was no longer there because of the construction. Still another said that they never knew that it was back there. In truth, the lot has been there for years and will continue to service both commuters and as an overflow for short-term parking on Beach 116 Street. You do not have to put your ticket in the window when you park in that lot because all of the spots are numbered and you input your number before you purchase the ticket, unlike the street itself, where you have to put the ticket inside your front window. By the way, one reminder about parking on the block. There are four "loading zones" that restrict parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. They are not marked now, although the DOT promises to mark those areas.

The Wave is looking for some Rockaway oldtimers who rode the first subway from Manhattan to Rockaway in June of 1956. If you were one of those who took the historic ride, we would like to hear from you, to print your rememberances of that day as part of a story on the beginning of the transit service to the Rockaway community. a service that continues today.

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