2008-03-07 / Community

Beachcomber

The Lawrence Hotel, the longstanding eyesore on Beach 116 Street, is up for sale once again. Perhaps a new owner and developer will be attracted to the property by the city's proposed zoning changes that would allow for eight-story buildings on the beach block and surrounding blocks. What the block really needs is a full-scale development project that would take in all of the property on the eastern side of the beach block, from the Lawrence Hotel south to the beachfront. While the city wants eight-story buildings, we think that three or four-story buildings with stores and restaurants on the ground level and a bed and breakfast above would be just the ticket to revitalize the economically-vital shopping street. Now, the SRO's and adult homes ensure that nothing meaningful can be done.

The Republican majority in the State Senate is down to one member after a special, upstate election to fill the seat of a retiring member. Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno is optimistic about holding on to the majority seat. "We lost that battle, but we're going to win the war," he said bitterly after the election results came in. In fact, the one seat majority might fade in the next election with Joe Addabbo's run against Serph Maltese. With Addabbo's name recognition and the fact that the district is mostly Democratic, Maltese is in trouble and so is the Republican majority. Should the Democrats become the majority party in the Senate, Malcolm Smith, who represents all of Rockaway in that body, would become the majority leader and as such, the second most important politician in the state, just below Governor Spitzer and right above Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver. The Republicans have been in charge of the Senate since 1965.

A recent survey found that fewer than half of American teenagers who were asked basic history and literature questions knew when the Civil War was fought, and one in four said Columbus sailed to the New World some time after 1750, rather than in 1492. Common Core, the organization that funded the survey, said that the results show "a stunning ignorance" of history and literature. A spokesperson for the group pointed to federal law as the main culprit. "The No Child Left Behind [Law] has impoverished public school curriculums by holding schools accountable for student scores on annual tests in reading and mathematics, but not in other subjects," that spokesperson said. "We are concerned that all of America's children receive a comprehensive liberal arts and science education." Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, please copy. Dominick Maiorano pointed out in email that, while no home in Rockaway has ever been sold for $3.5 million, as we said last week, public records show that a home on Beach 139 Street was purchased in 2007 for $3.4 million. Records show, that property is the most expensive ever sold in Rockaway, and the home still needed lots of renovation. Since the market, even for beachfront property, is dropping, we guess that the record will stand for some time.

We like Marty Markowitz. The Brooklyn Borough President is a likable, funny guy. He's very much like the fraternity boy who never grew up and still likes to kid around and make jokes about serious topics. Likable, but not what you'd want as the Mayor of New York City. A recent survey, however, found that Markowitz is the top choice of registered Democrats to replace Mayor Bloomberg. He got 18 percent of all Democratic voters in the recent poll. Congressman Anthony Weiner was second, with 13 percent of the vote and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn weighed in with 11 percent. We'd be willing to bet that the great majority of Rockaway Democrats would not know Markowitz if they tripped over him at Nathan's or Junior's, his two favorite restaurants.

A new, $66.3 million natatorium and ice-skating rink has opened in Flushing Meadows - Corona. That's great for the people in northern Queens, who now have a state-of-theart swimming pool, aquatic center and ice-skating rink that will add to the many amenities that already exist in the area. If you live in Rockaway, however, you have to wonder why a city that can spend $66.3 million for one community can't come up with $5 million to complete a privately funded swimming pool and indoor gymnasium for this community. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe gushed over the new building, calling it "the most gorgeous building ever erected in a city park." He is the same Adrian Benepe who said that it was OK to drink in public parks such as Central Park, but not on Rockaway Beach, because "it is too dangerous." He is the same Adrian Benepe who keeps promising Rockaway extended beach hours and a full complement of lifeguards and then never comes through once the summer begins. Great things are happening in other parts of Queens and in Coney Island. As for Rockaway, however, it's "don't call us, we'll call you."

NYPD Captain Charles (Butch) Neacy, who commanded the 100 Precinct in Rockaway Park, was promoted recently to Deputy Inspector by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Neacy now commands the Major Case Squad for the police department.

Money previously earmarked for the state's public schools will instead go to racetracks and the state racing association under a bailout approved by political leaders earlier this month. In the fine print of the new deal to save the New York Racing Association (NYRA) from bankruptcy, a larger cut of the revenue from video lottery terminals will go to the organization rather than to the schools, for which the money was originally earmarked. One analysis puts the cut to education at about $86 million a year.

One retired postal worker told us that so much mail is misdelivered, because the mail is "sleeved," put inside magazines for the same address, and then never checked again. Under the post office regulations, he said, all mail is to be "fingered," checked just prior to being put into a mailbox, but that doesn't happen because of budget cuts and the large amount of mail being delivered by each carrier.

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