2007-10-05 / Columnists

Beachcomber

A small but growing group of local residents concerned about the plans for the new YMCA that will be built beginning at the end of this year at Beach 73 Street have come together to push the plans up a notch. The group, which still has no name or organizational structure, wants a larger pool and an indoor gymnasium. An organizer for the group, who asked to remain anonymous until the group was ready to go public, said that people from all over the peninsula are going to work "under the radar" to get more funding for the project from local Senators and Congressmen. Organizers say that they need only $3 million or so to bring the facility up to the standard they expect from the city and the developers. They add that they understand that Arverne By The Sea, the developer who is building the facility, has no obligation to put any further money into the project, but they expect their elected officials to come up with the money.

Brian Magoolaghan, who has been the assistant editor for The Wave for the past four and a half years, has moved on to greener climes - working for the New York City Department of Sanitation in its education department. We will miss Brian's sharp and incisive reporting and his willingness to do what he had to do to get the story and get it right. We want to wish him well in his new position and a long and healthy life. Nicholas Briano, a graduate of Brooklyn College's journalism program, will be joining The Wave next week as a staff reporter. We welcome him to The Wave family.

Gateway National Park is holding its Open House Weekend this weekend, October 6 and 7. Each of the venues will have its own hours, with Floyd Bennett Field opening the weekend on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Tours of the field and its control tower are on tap. That afternoon, from 1 to 3 p.m., Riis Park will host its open house. On Sunday, October 7, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge will host its open house with a tour of its new Visitors Contact Station.

The New York Press Association, of which The Wave is a member, is hosting a "First Amendment Essay Contest" for high school students all over the state. The contest is open to any junior or senior who attends high school in this state. Entry forms and information can be found at the organization's website at www.nynewspapers.com. The first prize for the state winner is $10,000, but there will be local prizes as well.

If we need any further proof that there are too many guns on Rockaway streets, we only need to look at last week's Wave. On page one, there was a story about a bicycle rider who was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was hit by an errant shell meant for somebody else. This took place at 7 p.m. in the evening in front of one of the busiest shopping centers on the peninsula. Inside the paper, on page 8, was a story about the fact that the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway has made 90 gun arrests this year as opposed to only 42 in 2006 during the same time period. If the cops made ten gun arrests a month, you can imagine how many guns there are on our streets. 900? 9,000? We know that Operation Impact units have been active in the east end of Rockaway for the past several months and that they have made many good gun collars. Now, that program is in jeopardy due to a lack of new cops available for the program. That is due to the low starting salary, which is largely due to the police union's determination that it could get more from the state than the city. All we know is that we need the added cops to keep even more guns off our streets.

We have all seen the homeless people who troll the garbage pails on recycling days, trying to get some bottles so they can make a few bucks to stay alive for another week. Now, the city wants to shut them down, fine them and perhaps put them in jail - for stealing recyclable garbage from the city. The city council has passed a bill that would increase the fines for "stealing recyclable" to $2,000 from $100 for the first offense and $5,000 for each subsequent offense during that calendar year. First of all, we wonder if the city actually owns the garbage until it is in their trucks. If not, they it is fair game for anybody who wants it prior to that time.

Wave editorial cartoonist Bob Sarnoff is also a gifted artist and filmmaker. There will be a retrospective of his work sponsored by the RAA at Fort Tilden beginning on October 13. The exhibit will run until November 4 in sTudio 6 with an opening reception to be held on Sunday, October 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. Gallery hours are Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

There are some questions about the impact of Governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to allow undocumented aliens to get a New York State drivers license. There is a federal law, called the "Real ID Act," that requires states to provide officials identification such as driver's licenses in an enhanced form and mandates that social security numbers be required to get a state ID. Federal officials say that they will not allow identification that does not meet the standard to be used for such things as boarding an airliner or getting a passport. Should the state allow undocumented aliens to get the state identification cards without a social security number, everybody living in the state may well find themselves in jeopardy when they choose to travel outside the state.

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