2006-06-09 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Kingsborough Community College in nearby Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, is offering a special program for residents who are 60 years or older and want to take college courses with younger students rather than other seniors. Courses offered include music, history, health, education, literature and more. There is no tuition, but there is a registration fee. Anybody interested should contact the school at 718-368-5079. Summer registration for the program will begin shortly.

As one local wag said on Tuesday, "you could spit from one end of the parade to the other." He was talking about the recent Memorial Day parade in Rockaway, and the statement was, unfortunately, true. There were many more people watching the parade than taking part, although it seems that the onlookers were down from the past couple of years. The weather was no excuse - it was a beautiful day on Monday. We understand that many vets, particularly those from WW II and Korea, are no longer with us or are too infirm to march, but even the group from the Vietnam Veterans was sparse. It is a sad affair when people cannot turn out to honor those who gave their lives (and are still doing so today) to protect the freedom of all Americans.

There is only one station on the Rockaway A Line that is handicap accessible, and that is the Beach 116 Street stop that is the only station at ground level. A couple of years ago, the MTA pushed through a plan to install an elevator at the Mott Avenue Station in Far Rockaway for handicapped riders. That never happened. It probably never will. Where does that leave the handicapped? They now have to take an MTA bus (if they can find one that has a working chair lift) to Beach 116, which adds hours to their trip. It is probably past the time for the MTA to address the problem. At least one or two stops in the eastern end of the peninsula should be made handicap accessible.

The Parks Department says that more than 101,000 people visited Rockaway's beaches over the Memorial Day Weekend, three days of beautiful weather. That is in contrast with 600,000 who visited Coney Island and Brighten Beach and the 750,000 who visited Jones Beach on Long Island. Of course, Jones Beach had the Blue Angels on both Saturday and Sunday and many locals chose to view the Navy's demonstration squadron rather than hit the beach here at Rockaway. All in all, Parks said, 878,905 people visited the city's beaches, up 200,000 from last year. How does the agency know that? Does it count heads on the beach, or does it count legs and then divide by two? Your guess is as good as ours.

We are saddened by the leaving of Reverend Jan Powell, the dynamic religious leader of the First Congregational Church on Beach 94 Street. Powell was a community leader, always involved in helping people with problems and in a myriad of community organizations. Powell has moved on to a much larger congregation in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. We wish her the best of luck and the best of health. We know that our loss is Oak Park's gain.

Michael Chertoff, Bush's handpicked head of the Homeland Security Agency (you're doing a heck of a job, Mikey), has issued a report cutting New York City's federal funding by 40 percent. That report says that New York City has no national monuments or icons that "needs special security." Not the Empire State Building, not the Statue of Liberty, not the Stock Exchange, not anything. On the other hand, Jacksonville (Florida) got a 26 percent increase. It's major monument or icon that needs special security is Alltel Stadium, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Louisville (Kentucky) got an increase to protect the Churchill Downs Racetrack. Get the picture? Those "blue states" just aren't going to be funded any longer under the Bush White House's rules of engagement.

Stu Mirsky, who is running against the incumbent Assemblywoman, Audrey Pheffer, picked up a couple of endorsements recently. He picked up the Conservative line as well as the endorsement of the Queens GOP organization. He also has the backing of all of the Republican clubs in Queens. He still has an uphill battle, however, because Democrats outnumber both Republicans and Conservatives by a large margin. Mirsky's Wave column, "The Rockaway Irregular," has been suspended until after the election as has Pheffer's column, "Notes on Consumer Affairs."

Even the New York Times is chiming in on the problem of experienced school principals leaving in droves, to be replaced by young men and women who have never been teachers or assistant principals. "This walk on water job requires sound training and a good support system," a recent Times editorial said. "But it also requires experience, especially in challenging school systems like New York City, which is on the verge of giving principals even more experience." The Times points out that the city system, which once viewed educators with even ten years' experience as being too green to run a school, has grown increasingly dependent on young people - some still in their 20's - who have spent relatively little or no time in the school system.

Patrick Dowdell of Breezy Point graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point recently. His father, Fire Lieutenant Kevin Dowdell, an officer with Rescue 4 in Woodside, died on September 11, 2001 along with 342 of his brother firefighters. "I wouldn't be here if he hadn't given me the encouragement," Dowdell told a Newsday reporter. "It is kind of the end of one chapter of my book."

A number of new people have been appointed to Community Board 14 by Borough President Helen Marshall. The board serves as the liaison between city government and the various communities that make up the Rockaway peninsula. Established by the revised City Charter in 1975, the 50-member board meet once a month to discuss community issues. While the boards are advisory, they do have an impact on land use issues. The new board members are Henry (Hank) Iori, Peter Larkin, Carole Trachtenberg, Carl Querrard and the Reverend Dr. Clifton Mullings.

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