2006-06-30 / Columnists

Beachcomber

With the July 4 Independence Day celebration only a few days off, this is a good time to remember that possessing fireworks or shooting them off without a permit is against the law. Using the pyrotechnics is good for a C Summons and a $750 fine. The NYPD is offering a $1,000 reward to anybody providing information on illegal fireworks that leads to an arrest and conviction. The Wave has been told by representatives of both local precincts that the city is very serious about this and the law will be strictly enforced throughout the peninsula, from West Lawrence to Breezy Point. A special squad of NYPD detectives has been posted around fireworks stores in Pennsylvania (where most of our illegal fireworks come from) to watch for New York City residents buying the pyrotechnics. That squad has arrested more than 140 people and confiscated 43 cars. A word to the wise should be sufficient in this case.

The Wave has learned that a long-time educational icon will be closed this week. Middle School 198 on Beach 56 Street, which most of you know as Junior High School 198, the first middle school to be built in Rockaway and in operation since the late 1950's, has closed its doors for good. All of its teachers and administrators were given notice on June 20 that they no longer had jobs and that they had to contact the Department of Education's Hiring Support Center to file an Open Market Hiring Application. Even those teachers with dozens of years of experience were forced into the open market with no warning because of the closing. What a sad way to end the life of a once-proud school.

The DOT is making major changes in the parking situation on Beach 116 Street. The changes come in the hours that motorists must feed the meters and in the hours that the parking is restricted for cleaning by the Department of Sanitation. As of a week ago, there will be no parking for street cleaning on the sidewalk side of both the east and west sides of the street from 7:30 to 8 a.m. That means on the sidewalk sides, metered parking will begin at 8 a.m. and run to 7 p.m., an end time that is an hour earlier than the previous rules. On both sides of the median, parking will be restricted from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. for street cleaning. Metered parking will then be in effect until 7 p.m. each day. There is no metered parking on Sunday throughout the city due to a City Council law made earlier this year. In addition, the present loading zones have been changed from "No Parking" to 'No Standing," a much more restrictive category.

The Mayor and the Parks Department have done it again. Coney Island is getting a rebuilt Parachute Jump and a large meeting and sports complex. What does Rockaway get? A solar garbage pail. Way to go!

People are beginning to wonder who will run for City Councilman from the west end district when Joe Addabbo either runs for a State Senate seat or when he is term-limited. There are lots of names being thrown around, with the most-oft mentioned being the present Democratic District Leaders, Geraldine Chapey (the younger) and Lew Simon. There are those, however, who are tired of the old political order and would like to see some new, young candidates run for office.

The City Council is at it again. Not sated by trying to force the schools to allow cell phones, not finished with trying to run the lives of city citizens, the council now wants to ban fast food restaurants in areas where such eateries already exist. A rule proposed by the chairman of the council's powerful Health Committee, Joel Rivera, would overhaul the zoning regulations to limit the number of fast food restaurants in neighborhoods where obesity is an epidemic among children and teenagers. "We're looking at a resolution to limit the number of fast food restaurants," he said. Can you imagine that that will do to Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach? Half of the food shops would have to immediately close down.

Donate your old computer and save the life of a dolphin, seal or sea turtle. How do you do that? The New York State marine mammal and sea turtle rescue program is in immediate need of well-functioning computers. Your donation of that equipment will help defray the cost of rehabilitating seven sea turtles, seven seals and a harbor porpoise now being cared for by the Riverhead Foundation on Long Island. The program can be reached at jwocial@riverheadfoundation.org.

It was sad to see the St. Virgilius School close its doors for good on June 22. We still believe that the school, located on a narrow barrier island in Jamaica Bay, deserves special consideration because it is so difficult for the children who live there to get to other parochial schools in Rockaway or in Howard Beach. The diocese thought otherwise, however, and the school has drawn its last breath after more than 99 years of serving the Catholic children in the community. We understand that parents wanted to fight on, but that the powers-that-be in the Brooklyn Diocese implied that a protracted fight might well lead to losing the parish as well. Residents wonder what will happen to the land where the school and the more-valuable Parish Hall now stand. The betting is that it will be sold either to the city for a new public school or to developers. The joke that you could have bought all of Broad Channel for $1,000,000 ten years ago while now there are a number of properties worth that amount is not funny to many residents, who see the swift rise in home prices and the building boom as a negative for the life they have enjoyed all these years.

Arnold Leslie called to say that we were wrong in the spelling of his name in the 1952 PAL Champions caption (it is not spelled Lesley as we were told originally). Carol Marston, who maintians the excellent website at www.farrockaway .com, said that one boy in the photo was Bernie Mark (not Marks) and the youth we named as Butch Tartum is actually Steven "Butch" Targum. She says that Vogel is an Oconologist now.

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