2007-06-01 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Rockaway faced a bit of a mystery on Thursday morning when many people in Belle Harbor felt their homes shake for a brief period of time. Police investigated, but found nothing. Homeowners from the area between Beach 125 Street and Beach 130 Street called The Wave to ask if we knew what was going on, but we didn't know any more than they did. We contacted some city agencies, including the Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service to see if we had a mild earthquake, but none of the calls revealed any useful information. We'll have to chalk it up to the Twilight Zone.

The National Park Service will cut the ribbon on its new Visitor Contact Station at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Cross Bay Boulevard. Park Service officials invite local residents to attend for some trail walks and light refreshments. The ribbon cutting will take place on Monday, June 11 at 11 a.m.

While information about the May 19 auction to sell off 21 brand-new condo units at the Ocean Grande on Beach 116 Street, we have found out that all the units were sold at the Manhattan auction site. Neither the management of the building nor the auction company responded to requests for information on how much the units went for at the auction. We have heard that some of those who bought their units in the building earlier at market rate prices are angry about the sale, which many of them believes reduces their equity in the building.

Word on the street is that the owners of Century 21 Realty on Beach 116 Street have packed up and moved to Snug Harbor on Beach 108 Street to make way for the demolition of the building that houses both that realty and the former Georges Florist. We hear that the new building that will be constructed in its place will house both the new Rockaway diner and offices for the realty firm. No permits have yet been issued by the city, but we hear that it's a done deal.

When Rockaway Beach Boulevard was first closed between Beach 69 and Beach 73 Streets in January to improve the east-west artery, the plan was to reopen it by the end of May. That is obviously not going to happen and a new report from the city's Department of Transportation loudly proclaims that fact. Buried in the closings throughout the city is the fact that the boulevard will now be closed at least until "mid-July," but you can bet that the summer will be over before it is reopened. Hopefully, the new "Ocean Front Parkway" or "Dune Road" that Arverne By The Sea is building as a connection to Shore Front Parkway at Beach 73 Street will be open long before that. By the way, the bottleneck at Beach 62 Street from Beach Channel Drive to Rockaway Beach Boulevard should be gone by "late June."

The growth of The Wave mirrors the growth of the local economy because the number of advertisements drives the number of pages that comprises the paper each week. In 2004, The Wave had one 100-page issue. In 2005, there were five 100-page issues. In 2006, there were 15 100-page issues and only one of them prior to June 1. This year, we have already run five 100-page issues by the end of May, with the last three being 108 pages, some of the largest we have every published (the record seems to be 112 pages). Our prediction is that we may well publish more than 20 100-plus-page papers before this year is up. Last year, The Wave increased its page count by 324 pages and we are already running nearly 70 pages over that this year.

For the past few years, City Councilman James Sanders has been excoriated for his poor attendance at council and committee meetings. This year, however, Sanders was one of the summit attendees with a 71.23 percent attendance. At the same time, two of our Congressmen got high marks from the Americans for Democratic Action (a liberal group) and low marks from the American Conservative Union. Anthony Weiner got a 95 from the ADA and an eight from the ACC. Gregory Meeks got similar marks from the two organizations. What a surprise!

Our community boards are supposed to represent the people who live in the communities covered by those boards. In reality, they represent the politicians who choose the community board members. When Kevin Callaghan came out against the proposed development in the Arverne Urban Renewal Area some years ago, he was told politely by the borough president that his services were no longer needed on the board. That sent a message to the other members that "It's my way or the highway." Now, several members of a Brooklyn community board just found out that there were not reappointed by Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough President. He says that it's just a coincidence that they all voted against the development of the Atlantic Yards that Markowitz and the mayor really wanted to happen and the community was so opposed to. So much for representing the community.

The Brooklyn Cyclones, who play in Coney Island's KeySpan Park, are going to spend 24 hours fighting hunger on June 2. The Cyclones, joined by their office staff, will play baseball for an entire day and into the night, facing teams of fans and teams from radio stations and newspapers - including The Wave's Sports Editor, Elio Valez, who is scheduled to take the field at midnight. The event will raise money for food shelters in the borough.

The Rockaway Lobster House on Beach 92 Street and the bayfront is the last of the local restaurants owned by the Good brothers, Kenny and Steve after a long line of restaurants from the Last Stop Café to Delicious Endings, The Beach Club, The Rockaway Sunset Diner, as well as others. The Lobster House is now open six days a week for dinner and for lunch on weekends. With the number of local restaurants shrinking almost daily, it is good to see an eatery expanding its service. With great seafood, a large new bar, a beautiful deck and a dozen flat-screen televisions, this restaurant is sure to become one of the most-attended in Rockaway.

Transit District 23, the police district that is headquartered at the Beach 116 Street subway station, is running a "Gear Guard" program on weekends. Bring your Cell Phone, IPod or like device to the station and officers from TD23 will mark it so that, should it be lost or stolen, you can identify it as yours through the serial number assigned to your device. The service is quick and free.

The owner of the London French Dry Cleaners stopped into The Wave's office last Friday following the publication of the article, "Contamination Found At Dry Cleaners." The story told of the Department of Environmental Conservation's cleanup of the chemical tetrachloroethene, also know as PCE or "perc," that has contaminated soil and groundwater beneath the dry cleaning site in the Dayton Shopping Plaza. James Lee, who has owned the business since the early 1990's, wanted to assure his customers the chemical is no longer used at his store. "I haven't used the chemical since last April, because the landlord ordered me to remove the machine that uses the chemical," he said. Lee now uses organic cleaners and special soap. The newspaper made it clear last week that the problem began with the previous owner of the dry cleaner.

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