2009-02-20 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Don't forget to vote in Tuesday's special election to fill the City Council seat vacated by State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and voters should go to their usual polling place. Remember, in an election such as this one, a hundred vote majority could decide the election, so be sure to go out and vote for your favorite candidate.

We always understood that it's expensive to live in New York City and that many young couples who grew up in Rockaway are not able to buy a home here, even though they are earning two salaries that would have been considered high in the days that their parents were in their top earning years. Now, comes confirmation of the fact that it's both expensive and difficult to live in this city. The Center for an Urban Future says that a family of four in today's New York City must earn well over $100,000 a year in order to even come close to being considered "middle class." "There's something horribly wrong when so many municipal workers can't even afford to buy a home or raise a family in the five boroughs," says Jonathan Bowles, a coauthor of the report. "A job with the city used to be a sure-fire ticket to the middle class, but sadly, this is not always the case today. Even though municipal salaries have gone up in recent years, the cost of living here has skyrocketed in virtually every corner of the city."

On January 30, a Beach Channel High School student named F. Singh was on the shuttle bus when somebody swiped her pocketbook. The pocketbook contained the usual items, including an iPod with what her mother terms "irreplaceable photographs of once in a lifetime events," and of "family members who passed this year," as well as her school ID and other identification. Her mother, who once taught in Rockaway schools, is concerned about the return of the iPod with the photos, and is offering to buy a new iPod, no questions asked, for anybody returning her daughter's device with the photos intact. Anybody with information should contact Wave Editor Howard Schwach at 718-634-4000, who has agreed to act as a go-between.

We have received many calls from residents of the beach blocks of both Belle Harbor and Neponsit who are complaining that the Parks Department did not erect the traditional windbreaker fences along the beach this year, allowing large amounts of sand to blow over the beach walls and into adjacent yards and streets.

Forty years ago this week, on February 9, 1969, New York City suffered a snowstorm that not only brought the city to a halt, but forever tagged Mayor John Lindsay as the man who forgot Queens. The city was pounded by a storm that dropped more than 20 inches of snow and killed forty-two people. For three days, schools were closed as virtually every snowplow in the city cleaned the streets of Manhattan, leaving Queens isolated from the rest of the city and Rockaway a virtual dead zone. One local, who lived on Shore Front Parkway at the time, remembers snowdrifts above his head along the beachfront road and people trudging or driving along the boardwalk to get from one part of the peninsula to another, because every street on the peninsula remained impassible for days.

Just as school students in this city once got report card grades of A, B, C, D or F, restaurants may soon be similarly rated as either A, B or C under a new plan proposed by city officials. The city's Health Department would hire more inspectors and more summonses would be handed out for those restaurants that get a lower rating, officials say. Those with C grades would be inspected three times a year, while those with an A grade will only be inspected once a year. We wonder who would eat in a restaurant that has a large "C" plastered in its window. Officials say it will take up to two years to fully implement the plan citywide.

A Bayside man has posted his collection of more than 100 postcards depicting Rockaway's yesteryears on a new website, at www.rockawaymemories. com. Marty Nislick and Michael Morgenstern, a former assistant principal at Far Rockaway High School, have collaborated on the new site. Each postcard entry includes a brief description and places the postcard in its historical context. It's well worth a look.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, the body's new majority leader, represents Rockaway in the Senate, but many locals think that he has abandoned Rockaway in favor of his new statewide duties. Recently, however, Smith hosted a community forum that he says was attended by "over 20 men" who discussed "issues that are pertinent to improving Far Rockaway." In a prepared statement, Smith said, "It was important to me that I took the time to meet with residents of Far Rockaway. I wanted to hear their concerns in an open and honest conversation." We are not sure what was discussed, because the press was not invited to the meeting, nor do we know who attended, but Smith says that jobs, an anti-violence initiative and a proposed basketball league for teens were a few of the items of discussion. Smith added that he might soon open an office on the peninsula. It has been pointed out that he would no longer be majority leader should he not be reelected to his Senate seat by the people whom he is supposed to represent. For example, Smith has yet to speak out on the toll rebate program for the Cross Bay Bridge or the proposed LNG terminal planned near Rockaway's beachfront.

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