2009-04-10 / Columnists

Beachcomber

For those of you who have been following the Kareem Bellamy follies for the past year, we have a treat for you beginning with next week's "It's My Turn" column. Three young, budding journalists from the Columbia Journalism School, perhaps the highest-rated J school in the world, have been tracking the story and have written a long, detailed story about the 1994 murder of James Abbott in Rockaway and its aftermath. The first part of the fourpart story will be published next week in our "It's My Turn" column, with the other three parts planned for succeeding weeks.

There has recently been a spate of requests for street-naming changes in Rockaway. Requests to memorialize such disparate locals as civic activist Beverly Baxter and slain FRHS football player Patrick Hernandez have been made to government, but Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska wants locals to know that there is a prescribed method for renaming city streets after deceased residents. First, a letter from the family of the deceased must be sent to the community board supporting the renaming. There must be a petition signed by 75 percent of the residents of the block targeted for the renaming in support of the change. Those supporting the change must submit a brief statement of the person's contribution to the Rockaway or Broad Channel community and there must be a letter of support from the local civic association that represents the street to be renamed.

A series of lawsuits in Massachusetts and Rhode Island may soon impact every local driver who uses an EZ-Pass to cross the Marine Parkway and Cross Bay Bridges. The federal lawsuits say that the differential pricing that charges residents less than other drivers to cross a bridge violated the constitutional provisions that prohibit burdens on interstate commerce and promise equal treatment under the law. A New York Times article about the lawsuits, published on Thursday of last week, points out that, "Residents of the Rockaway section of Queens get [a break] on the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge." Should the New England lawsuits prevail, local residents may well lose the reduced tolls on our two bridges just as Staten Island residents would lose their break on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

The circus has come to town and tens of thousands of kids of all ages flock to local venues to see the daring young man on the flying trapeze, as well as the "wild" animals. If the City Council has its way, however, that might end with this year's performance. Almost half of the council's members believe that the city should ban the animals from circuses. In fact, 23 of the 51 council members have cosponsored a bill to prohibit "the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment or amusement." Don't the council members have any real issues to worry about? With the sentencing of cop-killer Lee Woods, the murder of Police Officer Russell Timoshenko and the wounding of Police Officer Herman Yan pass into history. The three Rockaway residents, all career criminals, stole an SUV from a Lawrence (Long Island) car dealership and were cruising the streets of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, armed to the teeth, when the two cops pulled them over in a routine traffic stop. As the two cops approached, shots rang out, killing Timoshenko and wounding Yan. Woods was picked up at his Gateway Boulevard home the next day. The other two men, Dexter Bostic and Robert Ellis, were arrested in the Pennsylvania woods after fleeing the city. Ellis beat the murder charges, but is serving 15 years in prison on gun possession charges. Bostic is serving life plus 40 years after his conviction on a murder charge.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is arguably our most outspoken mayor in recent history, has been mum on the question of bailing out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Why? His critics say that Bloomberg, who is already running for his third term, doesn't want to upset any potential voters on this contentious issue and is keeping his mouth shut. Bloomberg has reportedly been warned by transit activists that his involvement in the debate could well hurt their cause in Albany. The mayor is a lot less popular now that he has orchestrated a third term for himself and most of the City Council than he was before that battle.

Mike Boland is moving ahead with his Brooklyn College project - an account of the historic Rockaway Beach railroad lines, entitled, "The Beach and the Railroad." Boland was at The Wave last week, looking for information as well as guidance. He requests that anybody who has old photos or movie footage of the Long Island Railroad Rockaway right-of-way, contact him and help him with his project. Bolan can be reached at PM2523@aol.com. He is sure that some old-time LIRR commuters still live in Rockaway. A Wave editor remembers as a young child taking the "short way" into Manhattan on the LIRR, a route that took the train over the Jamaica Bay and into Forest Hills before hitting the Big City. Riders could also take the "long way" through Nassau County as the line does today.

Beachcomber keeps an eye on new businesses coming to Rockaway. Last week, we spoke about Blue Bungalow's move to Beach 116 Street as well as a new surf and clothing shop called FTW and a new pet grooming business on the shopping street. We have just heard that Rockaway Taco will reopen soon at Beach 96 Street, just south of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and that it will be joined this summer by Dicosmos Ices, which has been operating in Elizabeth (New Jersey) for many years. The new shop will reportedly sell ices made with fresh juices and exotic flavors.

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