2007-06-15 / Columnists


With the summer season come two annual problems - beach access and the lack of lifeguards and the onslaught of the shooting season. We are, unfortunately, again in that season. There have been four shootings on the peninsula in recent weeks, one of them, the most recent, ending in the death of a young man. At the end of last year, the peninsula saw a spate of murders of young black men by young black men, many of them involved in local gangs. The police cracked down and things quieted down until recently. Now, the shootings have begun anew. Perhaps it is time for the NYPD to bring back the Impact Teams that were so successful late last year and early this year. Unfortunately, those teams were decimated by the lack of new hires on the part of the NYPD. It is unacceptable to the Rockaway community - both black and white - to allow what happened last year to be replicated once again this year.

City Councilman James Sanders is getting lots of ink for his drive to keep the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) from closing all of its community centers on the peninsula. He held a public meeting on the subject and sent out lots of press releases decrying the cuts and vowing to fight them "tooth and nail." Sanders, however, might just save his teeth and his nails. A spokesperson for the NYCHA told The Wave that, while everything is up for review due to a massive deficit, there are no plans to cut any centers, especially not to cut all of the community centers on the peninsula. The agency says it is looking for duplication of service, but that there are no current plans to make the kinds of cuts decried by Sanders. If you want an issue to hit on, James, why not black-on-black gun crime?

"On The Rocks," the purveyor of wines and spirits at 450 Beach 129 Street has added a nice touch to its inventory. It now holds wine tasting events on Friday evenings for anybody who wants to drop in and try some new tastes. Sounds like a good way to spend a warm summer evening.

The Broad Channel cell tower battle continues unabated. The community's civic association voted last week to approve a proposed cell phone tower to be utilized by T-Mobile, sited on the Call-A-Head property. It was reported at the meeting that Charlie Howard, the owner of the porta-potty company, has agreed. The problem seems to be that Broad Channel property owner Joseph Porto, who has long planned a cell tower atop a commercial building now under construction at 818 Cross Bay Boulevard, reportedly already has a contract with T-Mobile to build a tower at that site. There are big bucks in cell towers and there is little legal precedent for a community keeping out a tower when a private individual wants to erect one on private property. That is because there is little real evidence that they cause any harm other than to one's aesthetic sensibility.

In a move to relieve long lines and a four-month backlog, the Bush administration has temporarily lifted its stringent passport rules. Travelers can now go to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean as long as they can prove that they have applied for a passport and have not yet received it. All the traveler needs is a passport application receipt and a valid government identification card to enter those nations.

On Wednesday, June 27, State Senator Malcolm Smith will hold a Youth Town Hall Meeting at the Church of the Nazarene at 1414 Central Avenue in Far Rockaway. In the press release announcing the meeting, Smith lists the problems facing Rockaway youth as employment, police/youth relations and the attack on the hip-hop culture. Nothing about black on black crime, guns, drugs, or education; the real issues facing black youth in Rockaway.

Some people will do anything for a couple of bucks. The people running last weekend's Relay For Life At Beach Channel High School placed canisters at several locations around Rockaway Park seeking donations for the American Cancer Society. One of those canisters was placed at Fast Break on Beach 116 Street. By all reports, it was stuffed with bills and change. Perhaps, that's why a uncaring sneak thief took the can and made it his or her own. The owners felt terrible, and gave some money to the charity, but somebody who would steal from people who need help with a dreaded disease are below contempt.

The proposed changes for Gateway National Park are interesting and exciting, but chances are they will never be implemented. The design contest was instituted and funded by private interests such as Tiffany & Company and the National Park Conservation Association. The National Park Service is under no obligation to implement any of the recommendations, nor to fund any further study. Park officials said only that they are glad for the conservation association's ideas and that they would give them consideration in any future plans for the park. To us, it sounded like "don't call us, we'll call you."

Unfortunately, the Relay For Life gets smaller each year. Held last weekend at Beach Channel High School, there were only ten or twelve teams participating, down from last year, which, in turn, was way down from the previous year. Despite the numbers, however, everybody who took part was energetic and enthusiastic about the event, which raised funds for the American Cancer Society.

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