The problem was there for all to see, and many of our readers caught the irony on last week's front page. The lead story detailed a march sponsored by the Far Rockaway chapter of the NAACP at which the organization's leaders demanded "respect" for black youth who, they say, are being hassled by police simply because they are black. "Everyone with a rag on his head is not a gang member," said Ed Williams, the NAACP President. "This harassment has got to stop." At the bottom of the page, however, was a related story. Thirty-four individuals had been arrested as part of a major crackdown in the peninsula's public housing complexes. The suspects, most of them reputed members of the Bloods gang, were busted on various charges involving both drugs and guns. Perhaps Williams and the others should have been protesting against the gang members who hold the good people who live in those public housing projects hostage, rather than the police, who are trying to do something about the problem. We also decry police brutality, but do not believe that such brutality is the problem in Rockaway; guns and drugs are.
City officials are trying to come up with a way to fund a $200 million fixup of the Coney Island boardwalk. The Parks Department budgets $1.5 million annually to fix all of the boardwalks in the city, officials say. That includes the nearly six miles of Rockaway boardwalk. The Brooklyn boardwalk, from Seagate to Brighton Beach, is less than half that long. If you extrapolate the Coney Island cost, a complete fix-up of the Rockaway boardwalk, in as much need as its Brooklyn cousin, would cost upwards of $450 million, the entire Parks Department boardwalk-fixing budget for the next 50 years or so. While the city is looking for private sources as well as state and federal funds to fix the Coney Island boards, there is no talk of fixing up Rockaway at all, despite the fact that a short tour at the beginning of the summer showed portions of our boardwalk in great disrepair.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels have announced that the Marine Parkway Bridge will be closed in both directions Mondays through Fridays, 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. from September 28 until October 26, to facilitate steel work on the bridge. Motorists are urged to use the Cross Bay Bridge during closings. Emergency vehicles will be able to pass during the closures, but all other traffic is banned.
Congratulations to long-time civic activist Walter Roberts and his wife, Pat, who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this month.
The city is running a free afterschool learn-to-swim program for kids ages 4-16 from October to December. The Queens site for the free lessons is…Well, there is no Queens site. There are five sites in Manhattan, one in the Bronx and three in Brooklyn. Why are there none in Queens? You'll have to ask the Parks Department. We have yet to get an answer.
The coming political election season may be an interesting one. When City Councilman Joseph Addabbo runs for the State Senate against Serph Maltese next year, who will take his place in the council? There are lots of candidates out there, including Rockaway's own Lew Simon and Geraldine Chapey, both politically savvy pros. Word is, however, that the Democratic Party is set to nominate Frank Gulluscio, Addabbo's former executive director, for the post. Who will the Republicans run? Stu Mirsky, who lost a battle against Audrey Pheffer last year, says he doesn't want to run again - ever again. There are plenty of mainland candidates waiting in the wings, however. James Sanders is term-limited in the next election and word is that his executive director, Donovan Richards, is eyeing the seat that will be vacated by his mentor. Where will Sanders go? The enigmatic councilman won't say, but we'll bet that it will be interesting. If Congressman Anthony Weiner runs for Mayor of New York City and wins, who will take his place? If Hillary wins her nod for the Presidential nomination, who will take her place in the Senate? One of the names most mentioned for that slot is Congressman Gregory Meeks, a Far Rockaway man who quickly rose from obscurity to become an Assemblyman and then a Congressman. It's going to get interesting.
The gray metal mesh non-lidded trashcans that you find on the streets of our city are made by prisoners and cost about $100 each. The stylish green metal mesh trashcans with fancy covers that are funded by our local politicians with great fanfare, cost the city about $400 each. Most of them are simply high-cost advertising signs, with the name and logo of the politician who funded them prominently portrayed. James Sanders, one of our City Councilmen, is fifth on the list of the alltime most generous trashcan providers. He has sponsored 24 of the trashcans, at a taxpayer cost of about $9,600. He could have purchased 96 of the standard cans for that amount, or named a street for another relative at that cost.
The Wave recently received a telephone call from a senior citizen who was troubled when she glanced out of her apartment window and spotted a man who appeared to be defecating in the dunes on Beach 17 Street. It seems the Department of Parks and Recreation's public restrooms in that area are locked at night and not always open when nature calls those who fish there. She said she has since spotted other men using the dunes as a bathroom and reported the matter to 311 and Parks. We understand that public restrooms that are open at night can breed their own problems, but we hope this problem is addressed before a dune is rendered unsanitary, or someone gets sick.
Those who are interested in insuring that the promised YMCAis the best that it can possibly be should sign up for membership on the community advisory panel that is being formed. The panel will be made up of 12-15 community people and will meet regularly on planning and program. Those who are interested in joining should send their resume to Community Board 14 at 19-31 Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, or via e-mail at Cbrock14@nyc.rr.com.