2007-04-13 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The shake-up in the Far Rockaway Post Office has become something of a mystery. It seems as if both Postmaster George Buonocore and his lieutenant, Scott Klein have been lost in the mail. The new postmaster, Diane Duncan, says that she had no idea where Buonocore has gone and never heard of Klein. A spokesperson for the United States Postal Service in Washington, D.C., told The Wave that Buonocore has been "detailed" to another post office because of the fine work he did in Far Rockaway. They say they have no record of Klein ever working at the post office, despite the fact that both Buonocore and Klein have been very visible participants in dozens of local and very public events. Meanwhile, we have not been able to contact either man.

The race for mayor is more than two years away, but the Democrats are already scrapping it up over their party's nomination. There seem to be three major challengers at present, with many more likely to jump in as November, 2009 draws nearer. Those three already in the race are Congressman Anthony Weiner, who now represents parts of Rockaway and Brooklyn; City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. Weiner ran in the last election, but dropped out for the good of the party when he reached second place in polls to Freddy Ferrer, who eventually lost big to Mike Bloomberg. Weiner says that he dropped out in the name of "party unity," but its more likely he did it because it will be easier this time without Bloomberg in the mix. Last week, Public Advocate Betsy Gottbaum dropped into The Wave's office for a chat and a cup of coffee. She just happened to be in the neighborhood, but she is probably just testing the waters for a run of her own for the top seat. There will be others. If we know the Democrats, there will be many others. The question will be, who will be the Republican candidate now that Bloomberg is term-limited?

Some residents of Broad Channel are gearing up to fight the proposed cell tower that is planned for the middle of the community. An Email from local resident Maurice Sartor has spread like wildfire throughout the bayfront community. "Attention, Broad Channel. Coming soon to your backyard," the Email screams. Sartor excoriates "non-Broad Channel resident" Joseph Porto, who owns the property on the corner of East 9 Road and Cross Bay Boulevard, who is building a commercial building on that site and is "paving the way to make a T-Mobile Cell Phone Tower a reality." Sartor asks all the Broad Channel residents to call their political leaders as well as Porto to ask that the cell tower not be built. He also calls for a boycott of whatever establishment is built on the site. We did some checking and found that Porto does indeed own the site and that he has a right to build on that site. While many people believe that a cell tower is dangerous, others point out that there is no evidence of that contention, so this battle will probably play out in the courts.

Now that the MTA has taken over the private bus lines that once serviced Rockaway, bus service seems to have improved greatly, especially on the critical express bus lines that run from Rockaway to Manhattan. Some local residents have written to ask for our support for extending the Q22 bus line so that it would run from the west end of Rockaway to the Long Island Railroad Station in Far Rockaway. There is little secure parking at the Far Rockaway site and the locals think that the bus run to the station would become a best-seller.

Mike Bloomberg, who says, "I don't think that it's the city's business to regulate [baseball bats]," plans to veto the City Council bill that bans aluminum bats in city high schools. He is right, especially in the light of the fact that nobody has any real proof that the metal bats are more dangerous than the traditional wooden bats. We understand that a young player was killed when a ball hit from an aluminum bat struck him in the chest, but that incident does not make the bats inherently more dangerous than the wooden variety. Those old enough to remember Cleveland Indian pitcher Herb Score, who was hit with a ball struck with a wooden bat by Yankee Gil McDougal, will understand that wooden bats are dangerous as well. In fact, playing sports is inherently dangerous and there is little we can do to guarantee the safety of those who choose to play the game.

We have known for a long time that city agencies often go their own way, caring little for the way they impact the residents they are paid to serve. This has been proven once again in a very disruptive way by both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and Construction and those they hire to work on the roads in our community. On March 29, with almost no warning, the DDC closed off Beach Channel Drive, one of the most vital east-west roadways in the west end. The contract to do the work said that one lane had to be maintained in each direction and that the work was to begin several days later. The contractors working for DDC did not obey the restriction. Traffic was backed up so badly that the police finally ordered the contractors to stop work and reopen the road. On April 4, the same contractors, working for the DDC, closed off large portions of Rockaway Beach Boulevard, again violating both the spirit and the letter of the contract. They did not maintain one lane in each direction and the work was not to begin, we understand, until the work on Beach Channel Drive was completed. Again, traffic was impacted and tempers flared. We have been told that this kind of work will go on throughout the summer and beyond. While we understand the work is necessary, we would hope that it would be scheduled in such a way that at least one major east-west road would be kept open at all times. What would have happened on March 4 had an ambulance or a fire engine needed to get to an emergency. We shudder at the thought.

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