2006-05-19 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Rumor has it that a local church has purchased the now-dormant hardware store on the corner of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 115 Street to use as a food pantry for Rockaway people in need. The move is sure to start a controversy between those who want to feed the hungry and those who don't want the homeless and hungry haunting the Beach 116 Street shopping area. Both of them have a valid point of view and it is important that both the faith-based and business communities have some input and some dialogue prior to the opening of the new facility.

We are saddened by the word that the St. Virgilius School in Broad Channel is shutting its doors for good on orders of the Brooklyn Diocese. There are rumors whirling in the community that the church will close its doors as well. That would be a double tragedy for the isolated island community. There is anger among many parishioners over the belief that the diocese wants to sell the church, the school and the rectory building for development in order to keep some mainland school open. We hope that those are just rumors and that the church will remain open even if the school does not. While every church and parochial school argues that it has a special case for remaining open, St. Virgilius can genuinely make that case because of the isolation of the community. The nearest Catholic institutions are in Rockaway and in Howard Beach, quite a distance away.

A few years ago, a group of Neponsit homeowners, calling themselves "Friends of the Dunes," privately paid the Parks Department (through its foundation) to place dunes along the beachfront from Beach 138 Street to Beach 142 Street. These came to be known as "official dunes" as opposed to the "unofficial dunes" that were made by Mother Nature. Now, however, with summer fast approaching, a group of homeowners in that area is complaining that the "official dunes" have taken over the beach. "The dune formation has grown uncontrollably and, in some cases, all the access to the beach is closed," Lorraine Agoglia, a spokesperson for the group, told The Wave. "If we don't take back our beach now, there will be no beach this summer." The group is asking locals to call the Parks Department and their local politicians and to get out and clean up the beach.

Counted among "The Influentials" in New York magazine, May 15, 2006, is Rockaway Beach's own Bob Hardt who, as Political Director for NY1, made the "News Powers" category along with just three other people. "Hardt provides the grist of the daily political conversation," New York says. Congratulations on some nice recognition, Bob!

Every teacher who reads this newspaper knows the situation. The school promulgates a rule and teachers try to enforce that rule and then are punished when a child resists that enforcement. It happened again in Brooklyn last week. A seventh grade teacher asked to student to take off his hat. Wearing a hat in the building is a violation of school rules. The student refused to take off his hat and the teacher removed it from the student's head. The student pushed the teacher and the teacher grabbed the student. The student punched the teacher. Guess who was arrested for assault in the third degree and will spend the next two years of his career in the "rubber room?" You've got it. The teacher goes to jail and the student goes back to class. And the chancellor says that everything is wonderful in the schools since Mayor Mike Bloomberg took over.

A group of Far Rockaway commuters have complained to the MTA about bus service since the city agency took over the express buses from Rockaway to Manhattan. The group, which calls itself Far Rockaway Allied Commuters Association (FRACAS), says that the express QM17 buses make 32 stops in the morning and 34 stops in the evening, more than the local Q22 run. The group argues that many of those stops are already being served by local runs such as the QM15 and that the QM15 run gets continuous service from 6:15 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. on weekdays while the buses that serve Rockaway do not. The group asks for an elimination of all the duplicated stops, four runs for a Saturday express to midtown Manhattan and more buses during rush hours on weekdays.

Since the local Community Education Council has absolutely no power, we have not paid much attention to its membership. It is interesting, however, that there are two members of the CEC 27 that were also members of the now-defunct Community School Board 27, David Hooks and Shalom Becker. Thanks to the school governance law passed by the state legislature a few years ago giving Mayor Mike Bloomberg control of the schools, parents have had no say in the school process and have, by law, become rubber stamps for the Regional Superintendents.

Gateway National Park will host a 75th Anniversary celebration for Floyd Bennett Field on May 19 and 20 with a mix of activities that is sure to produce something for everyone. The major event of the weekend for most will be the football game between the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department. That game is expected to draw 7,000 fans to a new field that was built just off Flatbush Avenue. There will also be a static exhibit of old aircraft, a USO show sponsored by the Rockaway Theatre Company, a dedication of a plaque to the time when the field was officially designated as Naval Air Station New York (NASNY) and when many locals (including the managing editor of The Wave) did their boot camp and their reserve time at the base. There will also be activities for kids, food and music.

This is your last chance to see "The Women," the latest play performed by the very-able players of the Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC). The final two performances of the all-female case will be staged on Saturday, May 20 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Post Theatre in Fort Tilden. The show, which features many Rockaway residents is a "don't miss" experience.

Local police have been kept hopping by the strike at the Surfside houses. The management and owner of the three-building complex (1 Beach 105 Street, 106-20 and 107-10 Shore Front Parkway) have refused to sign a union contract. Police have been called to the complex over the past two weeks for outsiders harassing the pickets, for tenants throwing eggs at other tenants, for strikers harassing tenants and for a myriad of other reasons as each side jockeys for position in what has become a political hot potato for local pols. The tenants are in the middle of this battle, paying what many consider to be high rents and getting no service in return. There is talk of a rent strike that would keep the owner (who owns the realty company that manages the complex as well) from getting the rent money until he signs the contract and it appears that most of the tenants support the strikers and not the owner.

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