2006-05-26 / Columnists

Chamber Chat

By Joanie Omeste, Executive Director, Rockaway Chamber of Commerce

JOANIE OMESTE The Rockaway Chamber held its annual Bravest & Finest Luncheon on a beautiful Thursday afternoon on April 20th. Attended by over 300 people, it was a heartwarming event honoring local EMS, FDNY and NYPD personnel who give their all every day. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was on hand to say a few words to the crowd and Art Shamsky and Ed Kranepool of the World Champion 1969 New York Mets attended to shake everyone's hand and take photos. The honorees entered in true Russo's tradition through the hidden staircase that is usually used by wedding couples; all 25 honorees made their grand to music, lights and great fanfare. Yes, they were embarrassed but the crowd loved it. The Chamber could not do this without the generosity of our sponsors, Ocean Grande Condominiums, Verizon, Allstate, Keyspan and JetBlue. It's thanks to them we can continue to hold a type of event in a manner befitting our amazing uniformed service personnel.

An update on the parking on Beach 116 Street. DOT will be changing metered parking times which are currently 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to the original 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; also the Sanitation street sweeping hours will be changed to allow for staggered parking. Instead of the entire street being off limits to parking from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. when the sweepers come through it will be one half hour on the curb and one half hour on the median...this will allow for people to run into a store and get a cup of coffee, a newspaper, etc. Now, one would think this would be an easy fix to a project DOT began long ago, and anyone would ask the question....it's just a sign, right? Don't they have warehouses full of them? Maybe alligators ate the signs. And, yes, the Chamber contacts DOT on a frequent basis, as does Councilman Addabbo and Community Board 14 in order to get this project finished on the community's behalf.

The Chamber would like to welcome new members The Seaside Flea Market. Several thousand people came to shop and browse at the Grand Opening on May 14. According to all accounts, it was an unqualified success. Partners in the Seaside Flea Market, Abby Feldmanand Alan Finchley, experienced a fulfillment of their vision of a creative open-air marketplace thatblends the arts with merchandising. It was exciting for them to see people buying items including fine art, creative handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories,ranging from $1 to $1,000. They were thrilled to take an underutilized parking lot and fill it with over 100 vendors and thousands of shoppers. The market shed a very positive image on the local community, and everyone had a great deal of fun.

Columbia University's Graduate School of Urban Planning completed their study of the Rockaway Community as it relates to disaster planning. The students gave an extremely sophisticated presentation to a small group of people, which they will be happy to recreate for a larger group when they assemble again next semester. They gathered an incredible amount of information through research and interviews, took their findings and came up with suggestions both immediate and far reaching. The class is also submitting their findings to OEM to incorporate into its planning. It was extremely interesting to see the class made up of a diverse group of students of all ages concentrate their efforts into an intelligent set of ideas which may be able to help this community in case of disaster.

Another new member to the Chamber is Aviator Sports; if you don't know who they are yet, don't be left behind. Go to www.aviatorsports.com . The NYPD vs. FDNY football game was held at the new facility in Floyd Bennett Field on Saturday to a crowd of thousands of cheering people. The new facility is unbelievable. Home to two regulation size hockey rinks, volleyball courts, basketball courts, multi-sport outdoor fields, running tracks, restaurants, special event facilities, and the list goes on and on. Officially opening the entire facility in September, the outdoor courts are completed and Aviator will be hosting several events throughout the summer.

Upcoming dates: Tuesday, June 20, 8:30 a.m. is the Chamber's annual public meeting; the location is yet to be determined, but members will be notified by mail and an announcement will be in the Wave.

All are welcome.

The dates for the New York Kite Festival at Riis Park are Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20.

All are really, really welcome!

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