2006-12-15 / Columnists


The recent windstorm that blew a portion of the roof off the abandoned and deteriorated Lawrence Hotel on the Beach 116 Street shopping area might have brought some change to the status of the building. For several years, the building has been nothing more than a pigeon paradise and an eyesore. A number of out-of-towners who came to the street for the American Airlines Flight 587 memorial service on the street on November 12 commented on the “haunted house” demeanor of the building and wondered aloud how it could be allowed to stand in that condition. Now that a portion of the roof has blown off, the Department of Buildings has ordered that a protective shell be put around it and is contemplating condemnation proceedings against the owner. We believed that the city owns the former welfare hotel, but it seems that one agency does not know what another is doing and therefore, nobody is really sure who owns it. In 2004, the building was sold to a developer who planned some stores and restaurants on the first floor and four floors of condos above. The lot, however is zoned for no more than a 35-foot edifice.

Talk about a shaggy dog story. Michael Malsy lives in Broad Channel, but somebody found his Bichon Frise dog running free and brought it to the Howard Beach Animal Hospital. The dog has an identification chip embedded in its ear and the clinic called Malsy’s wife to say they had the dog. By the time his wife got to Howard Beach about ten minutes later, however, the woman who had brought the dog in disappeared, taking the 13-year-old dog with her. The staff confirmed that the woman was there with the dog, but denied that it was their job to safeguard the dog until the real owners got there. The dog is still missing and Malsy hopes that they will see this story and return the family dog.

The word on the street is that a group of Rockaway Park residents are poised to call for an election for president of the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association. The growing group claims that the present president, Edward D. Re, Jr., was elected five years ago and there hasn’t been a valid election since. There should be an election every November, they argue, and there was none either last November or this November. They want the electoral process opened up for a new election right after the first of the new year.

A recent and massive health study done in Denmark proves that using cell phones on a regular basis does not cause cancer. Scientists tracked 420,000 Danish cell phone users including 52,000 who had used the phones for more than ten years. They matched those records against the Danish Cancer Registry, which lists every citizen who has the disease. Their conclusion: cell phone users are no more likely than anybody else to suffer from cancer. “There’s really no biological basis for you to be concerned about radio waves,” the head investigator said. “Nonetheless, people are.” Now, for a long-term study on the health impact of cell phone towers such as the one that was recently erected in front of Snug Harbour restaurant on Beach 108 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Those of you who spend your Sundays watching souped-up stock cars go fast and turn left are in for a disappointment. The controversial plans to build a NASCAR superspeedway on Staten Island came to a screeching halt this week because of the complaints of local politicians that the track would negatively impact those who live nearby. While the raceway giant still wants to build a track in the New York City vicinity, we don’t see any hope for our own speedway in the near future. Perhaps they should look at Arverne East here in Rockaway as a site for a new track.

We have been trying to track the member items, the largess given to local organizations by members of the State Senate and Assembly. Those legislators don’t make it easy. For years, they have tried to keep their donations secret from the public that provides the money. Last month, a court ruled that legislative leaders had to make the member items public, so they put the lists on their website, but did it is such a way that the database is thousands of pages long and not searchable by computer. Last week, we called all three of our locals – Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Assemblywoman Michele Titus and Senator Malcolm Smith. We called on Monday, December 4 asking for their lists. We called again on December 5 and then once again on December 6. This week, on December 11, we heard Pheffer and she provided a list. Smith’s office responded to our 12/11 call stating that they were trying to get us the information. Smith’s spokesperson said that woould try and get it for us by deadline this week. We still have not heard from Titus, however. We did browse through the Assembly list on line and found some interesting items. Pheffer gives a chunk of money to Geraldine Chapey and her Trinity Seniors organization. Since Chapey is the Democratic District Leader and one of those who decides who runs for office, that donation seems to border on irregularity. On the other hand, Titus gave $50,000 to ACORN, an advocacy group that does not have Rockaway’s best interests in mind and another $75,000 to the Rockaway Peninsula Civic Association and its David Dinkins Center, two organizations that we believe have left the scene some years ago. If they do still exist, we haven’t heard of them for years. Now we are beginning to understand why they wanted to keep these things secret.

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