2009-05-08 / Columnists


Another portion of the Rockaway Freeway closed for good on Thursday, April 30. The Freeway will be closed from Beach 73 Street east to Beach 67 Street. The closing will make way for the construction of the retail shops and restaurants at the new Transit Plaza, including a Super Stop and Shop supermarket, a bank, a pizza shop and a new pub. The closing will also facilitate the construction of the new YMCA.

Summer youth employment applications are now available online at the city's website, www.nyc.gov/dycd. They can also be picked up at the offices of Rockaway's two City Council representatives, Eric Ulrich and James Sanders, Jr. To be eligible for the program, run by the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, applicants must be between the ages of 14 and 24, although those over the age of 21 must meet income requirements. The deadline for applying is May 15, and participating agencies are listed on the application. The program will run from July 1 through August 14, five days a week, for a total of 20 to 25 hours a week. The pay is $7.25 an hour, and participants must attend 17 hours of educational workshops.

The owners of the motorcycle that was destroyed by fire in the Dayton Towers parking lot three weeks ago came to The Wave this week with an official Incident Statement that indicates the fire started not with the cycle, as reported in The Wave that week, but in the automobile that was also totaled in the fire. While fire department sources at the scene indicated the fire started in the cycle and spread to the car, eyewitnesses, the incident report indicates, says it was the other way around.

State Senator Shirley Huntley, who represents Broad Channel in the senate, is the co-chair of the Senate Democratic Task Force on School Governance. In that role, she will have lots to say about the future of the city's public schools and who gets input into how the schools are governed. Huntley has reportedly received more than $10 thousand in campaign contributions from the United Federation of Teachers over the past three years. We wonder how much she has received from the phony school advocacy groups that front for Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his attempt to keep control of the schools in his third term. Bloomberg has already spent more than $7 million in a campaign that traditionally does not start until August.

The city has cut down on police department overtime and cut one police academy class completely. Mayor Bloomberg has set in motion plans to close more than a dozen firehouses. The mayor and the city have the money, however, to hire and train 270 new Traffic Enforcement Officers (TEO's), whose only jobs are to direct traffic and give tickets. If that doesn't show the mayor's priorities, nothing does. The TEO's are big moneymakers for the city and the police and fire department are not.

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced its opposition to a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Long Island Sound, halfway between the North Shore of Long Island and the coast of Connecticut. The department said in its decision that the project's "adverse coastal impacts outweighed its national interest." The governors of both states had vetoed the plan earlier, and it's hard to understand why Governor Paterson doesn't veto the Atlantic Sea Island Group's plan to put an even larger and even more controversial terminal off the coast of Rockaway. Is it possible that former Senator Al D'Amato's involvement as a lobbyist for the group has something to do with his lack of interest in stopping the project?

The plan to name a Jamaica street for former Rockaway resident Sean Bell, who was shot and killed by cops two years ago, has become controversial. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has given her approval to the plan, which probably means that it will pass with little opposition in the Council, but a number of police groups are infuriated by the plan. "It defies logic and it denies the facts," said an official of the Detective's Endowment Association. A spokesperson for the group added that it "would send a terrible message. That message is that it's okay to get intoxicated and get behind the wheel of a car and it's okay to run people down, especially police. That's the message they're sending, while the message they should be sending is don't be like Sean Bell."

There's going to be a lot going on in Rockaway this summer. The word from the Rockaway Music and Art Council is that its highly-popular series of Sunset Picnic Concerts, which were not run last year due to a conflict with the National Park Service, will be reinstated this summer at Riis Park rather than at Fort Tilden. The Rockaway Theatre will hold a series of shows at Fort Tilden and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has lots of summer activities planned throughout the peninsula. Keep your eye on the "It's What's Happening" pages of The Wave for details on all the hot summer events.

The failing economy seems to have done what local activists could not do - stop large-scale development on Beach 116 Street. While the new zoning laws, which were just upheld in court, allow for eight-story buildings, it is unlikely that anybody has the means to fund that kind of development in the current economy.

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