2008-05-16 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The ongoing television shoot at Arverne By The Sea is at once exciting and boring, if you can believe that. We watched the filmmakers shoot a scene for the new NBC-TV pilot "Kings" for about an hour. The smoke of battle was swirling, thanks to a smoke machine, and all of the actors making believe they are soldiers were in place and the attack helicopter landed… and landed … and landed again. It took the director about ten takes to get it right and then everybody went for lunch in a big white tent set up on Beach 67 Street. It was a little like watching glue dry. We spoke with one of the "generals" heading the defending army as he walked to lunch. He told us he was once an army sergeant and that it's much more fun to be a general. In any case, take a ride down Rockaway Beach Boulevard to Beach 65 Street to get a glimpse of the action. Shooting is sporadic, and much of it will be done at night, but it's still worth a look.

Commuter ferry service from Rockaway to Manhattan began last Monday, but we still get complaints about the city-subsidized service. In particular they cite the fact that the company is using only one, rather-outdated boat on the run; that the schedule does not meet the needs of Rockaway commuters; and that eastend commuters are left out of the plan because Riis Landing is at the extreme western end of the peninsula. The oneboat paradigm means that both the two morning runs and the two afternoon runs have to be at least an hour apart. The first boat in the morning, at 5:45 a.m., gets most commuters into the city too early. The second boat, at 7:45 a.m. gets them into lower Manhattan at 8:45. Unless they work close to Pier 11, they will not be at their desks by 9 a.m., the traditional starting time. Similarly, most people get out of work between 4:45 and 5:15 p.m. That makes the 4:30 ferry too early and the 6:30 ferry too late. A number of callers told us that they get out at 5 p.m. and would not wait around until 6:30 to get a boat home. As for the east end commuters, most of them would have to take a bus or drive to Riis Landing. Then, an hour-long ferry ride added to a subway ride if they don't work nearby Pier 11. For many, that means a two-hour ride, far longer than the express bus or the A Train.

The rezoning plan proposed for the Beach 116 Street shopping area is already drawing development proposals. The plan calls for rezoning the shopping street and some of the adjoining areas to R- 7A, which would allow for eightstory buildings with stores on the ground floor. The local civic association has called for a R-5D zone, which would allow up to fivestory development. While local groups dispute the new zone for Beach 116 Street, there has been almost universal approval of what the plan would do for the rest of the peninsula, limiting large-scale development and row homes in areas that are now single and twofamily homes. The problem is, if the plan for Beach 116 Street is rejected, then the entire plan might well be pulled by the city, leaving most of the peninsula vulnerable to large-scale development. If the plan is approved, then the eight-story buildings on Beach 116 Street won't be far behind. The owner of the dilapidated Lawrence Hotel has already announced plans to build an eight-story hotel on that site should the zoning plan pass.

Budget Truck rental says that it is offering GPS navigation systems in all of its trucks, including those rented locally, at 6202 Almeda Avenue in Arverne. The company, reportedly the first to offer the GPS system on all of its trucks, says that it hopes to make it easer for consumers to find the address they are looking for. The device also offers an array of navigation features, including getting them to the nearest gas station or restaurant.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced that it would combine the management of its three bus operations - MTA New York City Transit, MTA Bus Company (the group that runs the former private bus services, including Green Bus, Jamaica Bus and Triboro Coach) and MTA Long Island Bus. All three, which in the past were run as separate companies, will now be run by Joseph Smith, who is now a senior VP with New York City Bus. What does this mean for Rockaway commuters? Hopefully, the merger will mean better service and lower fares. In the corporate world, it probably would mean lower fares. In the world of public transportation, however, it will probably not have much of an impact on the day-to-day operations of the three companies.

Late last month, Far Rockaway lost one of its most dedicated community leaders with the passing of Jackie Bosley. She worked tirelessly to bring the Rockaway community together and to improve the overall quality of life for all of its residents. She will be sorely missed.

A new report from a British Cancer specialist says that talking too much on a cell phone could be a real killer. According to Dr. Vini Khurana, using hand-held phones for ten years could double the risk of brain cancer. He says that regular users risk the danger of tumors from cell phone radiation exposure. A mobile phone industry organization dismissed his study as exaggerated. We wonder.

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