2006-11-17 / Columnists

Beachcomber

number of locals have called us to say that they found dead birds on their property and wanted information on what to do with them. Brown's Hardware on Beach 116 Street, as a community service, has come up with a solution. The owners of the hardware store are willing to become a collection point for the birds. They ask residents to handle the birds only with rubber gloves and to put them in sealed zip-lock bags tagged with the address where they were found. Brown's will then turn them over to the city's Department of Health for investigation.

Speaking of Floyd Bennett Field, the one-time municipal airport and then Naval Air Station has hosted many historic flights since it first opened in 1920. In May of 1926, Naval aviator Floyd Bennett took off from the field with Admiral Richard Byrd for a flight over the North Pole. The field was later named after Bennett. That naming ceremony took place on May 23, 1931, when 25,000 spectators saw Charles Lindbergh and Jimmy Doolittle (who later led the mission that bombed Tokyo early in WW II). In April of 1936, Howard Hughes took off from the field for a four-hour and 21 minute flight to Miami, then a world record time. In 1938, Hughes used the field again for his record-breaking around the world flight in his famous Lockheed 14N aircraft. On July 14, he was met by a crowd of 25,000 people at the field when he landed. Later that month, Douglas (Wrong Way) Corrigan took off for California and landed in Dublin, Ireland instead. In 1941, the municipal airport was closed because LaGuardia Airport was opened and had more promise. It was turned into Naval Air Station, New York and it remained so until the early 1970's when it was turned over to the National Park Service as part of the new Gateway National Recreation Area, the first urban park in the NPS system.

The Aviator Sports complex at Floyd Bennett Field is moving along with the opening of a basketball program and a food court that hosts many famous Brooklyn restaurants such as Grimaldi's Pizza and Jacques Torres hot chocolate. In addition, the complex has teamed with Madison Square Garden, the Rangers and the Knicks. If plans go as they should, the British Airways Concorde will soon be stationed there as well. The complex is already drawing lots of Rockaway families for hockey, ice skating gymnastics, and flag football.

All of the local incumbents won in last week's general election, most of them with more than 80 percent of the vote. In addition, more than 90 percent of the incumbents running for the Senate and Assembly who were seeking reelection won going away. That reinforces the contention that the state needs a term limits law similar to the one in New York City. State Senators and Assemblymembers should be limited to eight-year terms - perhaps twelve at the most. That would provide some new blood and a breath of fresh air to the legislative process and would stop the present process where all of the decisions are made not by the legislature, but by the governor, the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader. Where is Ron Lauder when you really need him?

With the planting of trees and other landscaping complete, the memorial to those who died on November 12, 2001, is complete and was dedicated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other dignitaries last Sunday on the fifth anniversary of the crash. The memorial service drew huge crowds of family members, officials and onlookers to the shopping street, cutting off all business transactions for much of the day. This was the first year that the memorial service was held away from Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue, the site of the crash, but many family members gravitated to that corner to remember their loved ones. There are a number who told The Wave that they are still angry that the memorial was not built at that site, rather than on Beach 116 Street. New homes now stand at all the Beach 131 Street lots where homes were destroyed and lives were lost on that day.

We like Anthony Weiner. On Thursday, two days after the election, Weiner made a tour of Rockaway thanking all of the voters for returning him to the House of Representatives. He announced to all that he had "won reelection by a wide margin," but did not mention that he ran unopposed. We hope to see him in the run for Mayor of New York City once again in 2009.

One of the major problems facing Rockaway as a result of the current building boom is the lack of school seats. Many of Rockaway's public schools have become kindergarten to grade eight schools and that has made them overcrowded even without the influx of new students. The middle schools, which have been converted to other uses (MS 180 has become the magnet Gifted program, MS 198 has become the Goldie Maple Academy and MS 53 houses the Peninsula Preparatory Academy), are no longer available. The plan is to put one charter school in the Arverne By The Sea complex, but that is not enough. At least two more schools will be needed. In light of that, the announcement that the school construction budget for Queens has been cut drastically causes some consternation. The city continues to say that Rockaway can get along with the one planned school, but anybody familiar with education in Rockaway knows well that isn't necessarily so.

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