2006-08-18 / Columnists


While the Parks Department continues to say that there are plenty of lifeguards to patrol our beaches, anybody who lives in Rockaway knows that it not true. On Wednesday, July 26, for example, a survey showed the following: five lifeguards total on the beaches between Beach 9 Street to Beach 76 Street. While the city says that it does not put guards on streets where there are no homes, that area encompasses Wavecrest Gardens, Ocean Village and other large housing complexes. The streets where Arverne By the Sea now stands, Beach 72 Street to Beach 75 Street were all closed with red flags. All of the beaches between Beach 108 Street and Beach 113 Street were closed. Beach 149 Street was closed and there were only 17 beaches open between Beach 108 Street and Beach 148 Street. And, things will only get worse when lifeguards who attend college begin to leave in order to return to school. We expect that by mid-August there will be even more beaches closed during the week.

The city increased the hours that its swimming pools remained open during the recent heat emergency and the federal government kept the beaches at Riis Park open for two more hours each day and waived the fees at the Riis parking lot. Did the city do the same for our beaches? Of course not! It was business as usual at Rockaway's beaches were the hot and bothered returning home from a sweltering Manhattan found all of the beaches already closed for the day. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe for all their concern about our well being.

St. Virgilius Parish in Broad Channel will soon get a new pastor to replace Father John Wtulich, who will be moving to St. Francis de Sales Church on September 1. The new administrator of St. Virgilius will be the Reverend John P. Maloney, who will continue to live at St. Helen's Church in Howard Beach and commute to Broad Channel for services. Some people on the island community are unhappy over the fact that they have lost a full-time priest and see the move as the first step by the Brooklyn Diocese in closing the parish entirely. The parish school shuttered its door in June.

An art exhibition about Marilyn Monroe, entitled "Marilyn in Art," opened at the Gershwin Hotel in Manhattan (7 East 27 Street) on August 8. Roger Taylor's new book on the subject is part of the exhibit, including a diptych by Wave cartoonist Robert Sarnoff. The show will run through the end of August.

Take heart, parents and grandparents! Nellie Bly has reopened its doors, albeit under a new name. The new version, right off the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, opened on July 15 as "Adventure Amusement Park at Nellie Bly." The park is open from noon to 10 p.m. on most days, the new owner says. From the west end of Rockaway, take the Marine Parkway Bridge to the Belt Parkway west and get off at the Bay Parkway exit. Make a U-turn at the main drag and head a few blocks east on the parkway's service road. It's a great place for young kids to spend a summer day.

It has been nearly four years since the National Park Service dropped the concession for Abbraciamento's On the Pier in Canarsie, just an exit or two east of the Marine Parkway Bridge on the Belt Parkway. Although there has been some interest on the part of local restaurants to take over the concession, the restaurant remains closed. Congressman Anthony Weiner, however, is pushing the park service to solicit bids for the popular summer dining spot. Rockaway residents for fishing, picnicking and other summer activities, use the pier.

How much is your daily shot of coffee costing you over a year's time? The average New Yorker drinks 3.4 cups of coffee each day. If you brew your own supermarket coffee at home, your coffee will cost you $52 for the year. Buy your coffee from a local Bodega and the cost goes up to $1,000 a year. Buy the same volume of coffee from Dunkin Donuts and the cost rises to $1,428 per year. Go to Starbucks for your coffee and the cost goes up again to $1,663 per year.

There are a number of events coming up in August that you should mark on your calendars. This Sunday, August 13, the RMAC will host one of its most popular summer concerts, the Long Island Pops, with conductor Dean Karahalis. The free concert will be held at Fort Tilden at 6 p.m. The New York Kite Festival, an event that draws thousands of people to Riis Park for its two-day run will be held this year on Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20. The festival features dozens of large and beautiful kites as well as activities for kids and kite-flying activities of all kinds. On Thursday, August 24, the Friends of Tribute Park will host its first "Sunset in the Park" fundraiser at the park, which is located at Beach 116 Street and Beach Channel Drive. Music and light refreshments come with the admission fee. The fundraiser begins at 6:30 and runs until sunset. Then, on September 16 and 17, the RMAC will hold its annual Fall Festival in the Riis Park Mall. These are all "don't "miss summer Rockaway activities, so plan to be there.

The assault charge against State Senator Ada Smith was reduced to a misdemeanor by an Albany court recently. One of Smith's former aides charged that Smith tossed a scalding cup of hot coffee at her. Smith reportedly rejected a plea bargain that would have brought her a fine and a sentence to an anger-management program.

Anybody who takes out their boat and gets drunk in Jamaica Bay or on the high seas now face larger fines and a stricter punishment under a law that went into effect in early August. Operating a boat while drunk will now get boaters the same stiff penalties as an arrest for drunken driving. Under the new law, a first conviction for BWI would be a misdemeanor, with a sentence of up to one year, up from the old maximum sentence of 90 days. In addition, the maximum fine goes to $1,000 from $500 for each conviction.

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