On The Beach
Commentary By Beverly Baxter
Rockaway is gaining more of a cachet as a breeding ground for creativity in a myriad of art forms. We've always had talented people in our midst, but they had been long overshadowed by the true creative artists, the builders and developers, the creative thinkers who thought they could sell something grand, with an oceanfront view..a peaceful lullaby-lifestyle with fitness center and concierge to boot. Perhaps they thought buyers would be just as creative in overlooking one minor detail: 116 Street at the height of pedestrian subway traffic on a sunny day in June! Ahh, the sights and sounds you'll see and hear from your 800K condo-by-the-sea! Sure, you could still smell the salt air and the ocean will be there somewhere, but you'd have to be a method actor to fully experience it. Now, that's creativity!
***They weren't singing "Kumbyah" ...The Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association held its fifth and final general meeting on May 10 to gather a consensus on the contentious rezoning issue. The association chose Stella Maris High School as its venue in order to make convenient the attendance of those who reside in the R5 ("Rockaway Park east") zone. Although turnout was lower than expected, there were many new faces who, while they had not attended the "charettes" and previous meetings, spoke vehemently against any increase in the rezoning, thus the relaxing of restrictions in this portion of Rockaway Park.
They were, by many accounts, savage in their opposition to any zoning increase, even though they reside in a different zone within Rockaway Park. According to association President Edward Re, who, by all accounts was treated as a piñata, but who has always graciously sought to maintain fairness and to use his expertise as a zoning expert to educate, "There are clearly two sides to the issue. There are those who have attended our previous meetings who have an understanding of how a zoning change would apply to their particular zone and then there are those who still have questions," he said.
This has been a learning experience. The general consensus of this meeting was that there are more who favor the downzoning of Rockaway Park West, an increase in restrictions; yet the sentiment was split as to the change in the eastern portion. Those who were for downzoning the East end felt it would prevent high-rise development. They also made it clear that they want more meetings with regard to Beach 116 Street specifically. Although the debate was heated, there was one woman who objected to the vicious tone in the room and gratefully thanked Mr. Re for his commitment to the process and for the sharing of his expertise with the association.
The board will meet often over the coming months to vet and utilize the information from the previous five meetings so that it may reflect the wishes of Rockaway Park residents in a letter to the planning board.
***Those who attended the Literary Arts Festival last month were treated to screenings by some very accomplished Filmmakers. Of all the screenings I attended, there is one that still resonates with me, only I am bound by my agreement with the filmmaker not to focus on his identity, but to focus on the film itself. Wounded Warriors is a stunning piece that stops you, changes you and you're never quite the same. The film eloquently depicts the wounded warriors, the young men and women who have served and sacrificed in the armed forces; but who, despite the loss of legs and arms, limbs we take for granted, forge on in their fierce determination to live life to its fullest. The documentary also depicts a community, ours, that endured an enormous toll in the 911 attacks; yet still rises again to the occasion of helping our fellow man. The film takes place in Rockaway during a weekend last year when The Graybeards hosted the wounded warriors who came from Walter Reed Hospital to "brave our waves" and strut their stuff on and in our waters and to show us all how life is done.
As for Filmmaker, he "likes to watch", he lurks. Some suspect he's socially awkward. He might even agree if he weren't so.. socially awkward! He'd actually prefer the mere use of his initials K.B., but then people would think I'm referring to Kevin Breslin! And Kevin Breslin is everything but shy. No, this Kevin likes to watch. You'll find him at the back of a dark theater.. somewhere behind Pee Wee Herman.. lurking from the shadows...from where he has created yet another masterpiece! And I'm proud to know you, Kevin Boyle!
***Congratulations to Joe Hartigan who is likely to see all his work on bringing Ferry service to Rockaway become a reality. Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference on Beach 126 Street to announce his plan, only Joe Hartigan, who has made Ferry Service his crusade, was not even notified or invited. Neither were the local civic groups. Mary Dever Kelly, who happened to be taking a stroll on the boards, was there and proudly queried the Mayor on quality of life issues as a representative of the R.P.H.R.A.
***While efficient transportation is important in all our lives, Dr. Geraldine Chapey knows that it is absolutely essential for seniors in our area. As Founder and Chairperson of Trinity Senior Services, Dr. Chapey has been enhancing the lives of seniors through her Group Transportation Program. Trinity Seniors will host its 5th annual Luncheon at Russo's on June 1st at 12 noon. The benefit, which has become a premiere event of the spring social season, raises much needed funds to further the Transportation Program which provides safe, reliable and flexible transportation to exciting destinations, enabling seniors to enjoy a more fulfilling quality of life. Dr. Chapey will be joined once again by Hon. Chairs, Matilde Raffa Cuomo, former First Lady of the Sate of New York and mother of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and Dr. Kathleen Cashin, NYC Dept. of Ed. Regional Superintendent District 5. Co-Chairs are Frances Abbracciamento, Joseph Mure and Joe Perrotta. Dr. Chapey will honor Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz, Father Peter Gillen, Nancy Girlando, Brian Heffernan, Mike Keller, John Lepore, Zandra Myers, Father Vincent O'Connell, Dr. John Shure, Miriam Solger and Eileen Whelan.
***Happy Birthday to Frances Abbracciamento! Dr. Chapey gave an intimate dinner party for Frances on May 11th at The Steakhouse where Frances was the belle of the evening.
***Congratulations to Adriana Greco, the beautiful daughter of Daniela and George Greco, who has been selected to receive a $1000 scholarship from the National Police Defense Foundation at its annual Award Gala at Russo's. Miss Greco, who has been courted by various distinguished universities, will attend Towson University in Maryland. She received the award for her essay on Law Enforcement.
***Don't forget to bring the kids to see the RTC's production of Oliver! Now on stage at the Post Theatre.
See you...On the Beach!