2006-09-15 / Columnists

Beachcomber

It has been a long time since we have seen a group win a battle against a city agency, but parents of students at the Channel View School For Research, which is housed in Beach Channel High School pulled it off with style a week ago when the Department of Education's Office of School Safety unilaterally closed a door to the program's students, thereby breaking a promise and forcing the young children to mix with 18 and 19-year-old bruisers. The four-year-old program that will eventually be sixth to twelfth grades, exists on a promise to parents that its students would be kept strictly segregated from the high school population. That makes sense when you realize that many of the CVSR students are ten and 11-years-old and are mandated to wear school uniforms to class each day. Parents gathered at the school on opening day, September 5, to protest the regulation that put their children at risk. Shortly after the protest, attended by The Wave and some local politicians, Region Five Superintendent passed the word that the door would be reopened on Wednesday. After a glitch with the program's metal scanners, all was put right. A small win, but a win nevertheless, over the uncaring and unknowing bureaucracy.

This is always a sad time on the Rockaway peninsula. Last Monday, we mourned once again the 70 local residents who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center five years ago. The remembrance ceremony held at Tribute Park was low-key and appropriate. People who wanted to do so were given quiet time to reflect and remember while looking at the hole in the Manhattan skyline that once housed the trade center. Then, in less than a month, Rockaway will mourn again, this time for the 265 victims of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001, killing all those on board and five local residents on the ground and destroying about a dozen homes in the vicinity of Newport Avenue and Beach 131 Street. Most of the homes have been rebuilt and occupied by new owners. Some people tend to forget what happened in those dark days, but there are others who keep the memories alive for new generations.

The National Geographic cable television channel ran an hour-long program about the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on its "Seconds to Disaster" series. The program uses a mix of interviews with those involved in the incident and recreations using actors to tell the story. The program even used some headlines from The Wave in telling the story. The problem with the program, at least from our point of view is that it followed the government's view of the accident - the belief that First Officer Sten Molin overagressively and unnecessarily used the rudder pedals, causing the tail to fall from the plane. One pilot's union official previously told The Wave that building a plane where the tail can fall off by overusing the controls is like building a car where the tires fall off if you hit the brakes too hard. That about describes our view as well. There have been too many "upsets" involving the tail structures of Airbus A300 series aircraft not to believe that the tail structures are fatally flawed. Neither the FAA nor the NTSB wants to address that fact because it would do irreparable harm to Airbus and American Airlines as well as the aviation industry as a whole. By the way, an indication of the care that went into the program was the fact that the reporter said that a camera mounted on the "Triboro Bridge" showed grainy footage of the accident, when the camera was mounted on the Marine Parkway Bridge. A small mistake, but not one that should have been made by an organization such as the National Geographic.

There are now two small schools operating within the Far Rockaway High School building. One, the Frederick Douglass high school has been operating for a few years and has filled its quota of 150 students for the year. The newest addition is a Knowledge Is Power Preparatory Academy (KAPPA VI), which has 72 students and still has some seats to fill.

A new poll shows that New Yorkers believe that the NYPD is doing a better job in keeping the city safe from terrorism than the federal Homeland Security Agency. When asked how they would rate the federal government in protecting them from terrorism, 31 percent said that the fed's were excellent or good, while 38 percent said they were only fair and 24 percent said the feds were doing poorly in that area. Asked the same question about city government, 56 percent rated it as excellent or good, while 30 percent said it was fair and only nine percent rated it as poor. While more than 60 percent said they believed that another terrorist attack was in the offing in the future, 69 percent said that they felt safe in the city.

The building that once housed the Strand Theatre on Beach 20 Street in Far Rockaway will be opening its doors once again come November or December as the home to a new year-round flea market. The same people who ran the Seaside Flea Market this summer will run the new enterprise. As reported in The Wave last summer, the building - which had been shut down for decades - had begun renovation for new tenants. The exact date for the opening depends on how construction proceeds. The theatre, which holds memories for so many life-long Rockaway residents opened in 1919 as a vaudeville house. In the 1920s, it played host to such stars of the era as Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker. The Strand was one of three movie theaters in Far Rockaway located just blocks apart from one another. The others were the Columbia, and the last to close - the Pix.

With the reopening of the Last Stop Gourmet on Beach 116 Street, Steve Good has come full circle. He and his brother Ken started in the restaurant business some 20 years ago at the Last Stop before they moved on to the Great American Eatery, the Beach Club and the Rockaway Sunset Diner. It is good to have a place to sit down for a weekend breakfast on the street once again and the Last Stop even sells the Rockaway shirts that were once hawked in the Diner. By the way, the food is an improvement over the last owner's and it certainly is a lot more hygienic. Give it a try and it may surprise you. By the way, we hear that Ken will soon have some new restaurant news for Rockaway as well.

We got some letters, telephone calls and emails about our editorial that wondered if we should send more young American men and women to die in Iraq and Afghanistan. They accused us of not supporting those who are now fighting in those theaters. This week, Vice President Chaney made it clear that he had lied, that the Iraqi government never had a connection to al Qaeda. We never found any WMD. Think about it.

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