2006-09-01 / Columnists


The past few weeks have once again showed why there are just too many guns on Rockaway streets. On August 17, the check-cashing establishment on Rockaway Beach Boulevard nearby Beach 115 Street was held up at gunpoint by two men. On the next day, four teens where shot by another teen at Dix Avenue and McBride Street in Bayswater, None of the four were badly injured, and a teenage suspect was arrested the next day at Gateway Boulevard. On August 19, some men in a car shot up Deerfield Road in Edgemere, leaving bullet holes in a number of vehicles. On August 22, a man was shot by a robber who had just taken his possessions at Beach 30 Street in Edgemere. Three other people were also robbed at the same time. A 15-year-old youth was arrested in that case. We have called on local civic organizations and churches in the area to begin an anti-gun program in their neighborhoods, but to no avail. We can't imagine what they have to do that is more important than stopping the gun violence in Rockaway.

City officials reportedly came to Rockaway last week to see why they are getting so many complaints about the roadway redesign in the west end of the peninsula. We say reportedly, because nothing was done officially and we heard about it second-hand and after-the-fact. We wonder why the city official, our local representative from the Mayor's Office of Community Assistance, would rather make a "stealth" appearance than to take a tour with local officials or with The Wave, who has covered the story from the beginning. We hope that he found that the work done by the DOT has to be reversed before somebody really gets badly hurt.

The Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) will hold its next production at its theater at Fort Tilden beginning on September 1. The hit Broadway play, "Noises Off," features many of Rockaway's favorite actors. Evening performances at 8 p.m. will be held on September 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 18. There will be two matinees, September 9 at 3 p.m. and September 10 at 2 p.m. This is a don't-miss event for all those who love the theater.

The Graybeards will once again host their annual "Pints For Life" blood drive at St. Francis de Sales Church, Beach 129 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard on Sunday, September 17 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. To make reservations, call the Graybeards office.

There is some truth to the old saying that "no good deed goes unpunished. Jim Bensman of Alton, Illinois, went to a town hearing on how to help fish swim around a series of dams and locks that had just been built on the Mississippi River nearby the town. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had a representative at the meeting and he made a presentation. One of his ideas was to simply dynamite the dam. Bensman liked that idea and told a local reporter at the meeting that he "would like to see the dam blown up." A local law enforcement officials saw the comment and called Homeland Security. Bensman was soon visited by some FBI agents. He had a hard time convincing them that, had he wanted to blow up the dam, he probably would not have announced it at a public meeting. At last look, he was still under investigation by the FBI for promising a terrorist act.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed two new local laws into effect last week, both of them peripherally impacting Rockaway. Both of them deal with Jamaica Bay and its wetlands and both delay the inevitable. The first delays the mandate for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to complete a watershed protection plan for the bay. The plan was due on September 1 and has now been delayed until at least October 1, 2007. The second extends the life of the commission that was to draw up a plan to pass control of the city's wetlands from the DEP to the Department of Parks. The commission has been at work for six months and was to come up with a plan by next month. The new law will give it at least three months more to come up with a plan.

A number of residents of Beach 124 Street and its environs have called to say that they thought that another plane was going to crash into Rockaway's streets early on the morning of August 17. They say the plane was so low that it rocked the house and it sounded like it was in trouble. Some of those who got outside and saw the plane say that it was lower than 1,000 feet above their homes. One of the residents contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and were told that there was a plane that flew over Belle Harbor at that time but that it was not low and was not in trouble. Others continue to call with the news that more and more aircraft are flying over Belle Harbor, despite the fact that planes were to be rerouted to a flight plan that took them over Riis Park or the Marine Parkway Bridge instead.

While most city workers have to give back some "perks" or reverse some long-standing work rules to get raises, it seems as if pay for City Council members just continues to go up and up without any changes in what the council's members do or don't do. It looks as if naming streets is a real growth industry. Council members now earn $90,000 a year for what amounts to a part-time, no lifting necessary job. Christine Quinn, the council's new speaker, has asked that the council members all get a $22,500 raise, which would bring them to $112,000 a year. Many of the council's members also get $10,000 a year to chair one of the myriad committees. How much is a part-time Council member worth? Not $120,000 a year of taxpayer's hard-earned money, that's for sure.

Those who are interested in the health of Rockaway can find that information on a new Department of Health Website. The new DOH site will provide community-based as well as citywide health statistics. It can be found at www.nyc.gov/health/epiquery.

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