2007-08-10 / Columnists


The Department of Parks and Recreation is seeking public input on how to spend the $40 million that has been allocated to fix up park-owned land between Beach 9 and Beach 31 Streets. The agency has already held two public meetings and is now asking those who couldn't attend those meetings to send their comments to the Parks Department in writing. Anyone wishing to submit an idea can request a copy of The Far Rockaway Beach Survey by e-mailing Norman Chan at norman.chan@ par ks.nyc. gov. Residents can also send statements to that e-mail address or to Partnerships for Parks, Attn: Far Rockaway Beach Survey, Norman Chan, The Overlook, 80-30 Park Lane, Kew Gardens, NY, 11415. The deadline to submit comments is Friday, August 31.

We would be remiss not to note the passing of music teacher Martin Penzer, who taught at PS 183 for 39 years and was instrumental in the RMAC's "Music Memory" program as well. Penzer passed away after a short illness on July 21. He will be missed by the entire Rockaway community as well as by his colleagues at the school.

There is a new fraud afoot in this area. The caller claims to be a jury coordinator in the local courts. He or she tells you that you missed your jury duty call and that you are in trouble and subject to arrest. If you complain that you never the caller will ask for your personal information, such as your Social Security number and your date of birth, so that it can be "verified" as to whether you got a summons or not and then to cancel the arrest warrant. Give this information out, and your identity has just been stolen from you. Local court officials have informed us that residents are never personally called to verify jury service. These are words to live by: personal information should never be disclosed in response to unsolicited telephone calls or emails.

Those locals who park their cars at Fort Tilden in the Gateway National Park should be aware that you need a parking sticker or you will be ticketed by the federal park police. Interestingly enough, the payment gets sent to the City of New York, not to the federal government. Parking stickers are free and can be obtained at the headquarters building at the fort simply by showing a driver's license and the car's current registration. We have been told that you don't need one if you come to special events such as the RMAC summer picnic concerts, or RTC shows, but you do if you are simply visiting the park for other purposes.

The city's Red Light Camera has been put back in place on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 140 Street. A number of drivers called us in the last week to say that it is back and taking lots of photos.

We have long believed that any job is better than no job, but it is clear that the state legislature does not agree. The new bill proposed in the State Senate calls for placing more welfare recipients into jobs, but only if those jobs pay "sustainable wages," which the bill describes as "185 percent of the federal poverty level." What does that mean in real life? People now on welfare would not have to take any job that paid less than $12 an hour. For a family of four, it equates to $18 an hour. Hardly an entry-level wage. It sets the bar rather high for those who don't have even those entry-level skills or any education or work experience. It's going to be tough to find an employer outside the government that will pay those kinds of wages to entry level workers. What does the whole thing mean? That more people will remain on welfare because they disdain those entry level jobs that pay less than $12 an hour and they will not be forced to take those jobs or face losing their welfare benefits.

Last week, the city proposed new rules for those who want to take photographs on the streets of New York City. Film or photography activities involving five or more people at one site for at least ten minutes; or involving two people at one site for at least 30 minutes must have a permit and insurance or they will be ticketed. Press photographers, students and those filming demonstrations were the only ones to be exempt from the rules. There was such a hue and cry across the city, however, that Mayor Mike, who sees a buck for the city in every activity imaginable, quickly backed off. The city agency responsible for the new rule and for all commercial filming in the city said that it never meant to impact the public, just commercial photographers. They will release a revised plan sometime later this month. We can't wait.

Tivoli Gardens, the world-famous amusement park in Denmark, contacted the city with an eye to expanding somewhere in America. The city spent nearly $14,000 to send four people over to Denmark to speak with officials with an eye to putting the new park in Coney Island. The city says it wants to transform Coney Island into a year-round tourist attraction. There it is again. Coney Island is for tourists, Rockaway is for affordable housing. There was a time when Rockaway's amusement amenities rivaled those of Coney Island. Perhaps that is no longer true, but Rockaway has a better beach and more open land. Why not look to Rockaway to sop up some of those tourist bucks and therefore upgrade the community at the same time?

The tragic story of Jeremy Blake played out last week as his body was found floating about four miles from the shore of Sea Girt, New Jersey, nearly 40 miles from Beach 102 Street in Rockaway. Blake was seen taking off his clothes on that beach and entering the ocean on July 17. When he didn't come out, eyewitnesses called 911 and the search was on, utilizing copters, dogs and some high-tech gadgets that show body heat in the water. Blake, a noted and upcoming artist, was reportedly despondent after finding the body of his long-time girlfriend in their Manhattan apartment. While the New Jersey coroner has not yet announced the toxicology findings in Blake's case, police in both New York and New Jersey are officially calling Blake's death a suicide.

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