2009-06-05 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The local Memorial Day Parades that were held in Rockaway and Broad Channel were better attended this year than any year in recent memory. Perhaps that was because of the beautiful weather, or perhaps because of all the publicity about the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever the reason, the curbs of both communities were lined with onlookers, and that is always a good sign.

Arverne resident Barbara Hillary, who trekked to the North Pole a few years ago at the age of 70 to study polar bears, has been chosen for membership by the prestigious Explorers Club. We congratulate Hillary. We had planned to do a page two profile of the intrepid senior, but she told a Wave reporter last week that her "busy schedule did not leave any time for interviews by The Wave."

It is a shame that Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents Rockaway in Congress, has dropped out of the mayoral race. That leaves only one Democratic candidate, Comptroller William Thompson, in the race, and while we like him for the job, there is little chance that an old-line Democratic such as Thompson will be able to beat Mayor Michael Bloomberg and all of his billions.

NotifyNYC, the program that allows New York City residents to get alerts about important things going on in their neighborhoods, has been available to Rockaway residents for more than a year. By enlisting in the program, a resident can get alerts by email, phone call or text message when something extraordinary has happened or about to happen, such as hurricanes, large floods, fires, school closings, or the like. It also deals with more mundane subjects, such as the suspension of alternate side parking rules. "This is one way of actually getting accurate information in real time," says Jonathon Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14. Anybody with a computer can sign up for the real-time alerts at www.nyc. gov/notifynyc.

Congressman Gregory Meeks, who also represents Rockaway in Congress voted for an amendment last week that allows people to carry loaded guns in national parks such as the Gateway National Recreation Area units in Rockaway. The amendment was tagged on to an important spending bill by gun advocates who want people to have the right to carry guns everywhere, and Meeks apparently went along for the ride. We would not like to see people carrying guns at Fort Tilden or Riis Park, something that the amendment allows.

Fewer police officers are retiring when they reach the 20-year minimum service point, city officials say, blaming the drop in those leaving the force on the corrosive economy. The number of retirements this year dropped by 43 percent, from 1,314 in 2007 to 745 last year, according to city statistics. So far, there have been only 101 retirements this year. A spokesperson for the police department told reporters that the drop in retirements "reflects both greater appreciation for the job and fewer post-retirement opportunities in the current economic turmoil."

The Daily News is looking for New York City residents to speak out about how they are handling adversity during the current economic turmoil. Thos interested in joining its Daily News Impact Panel can do so at impactpanel@ dailynews,com.

If you think that Rockaway's parks and beaches are a little dirtier and less well-maintained this summer, you are probably right. Like all city agencies, the Department of Parks and Recreation had to cut ten percent from its budget, and you can guess where the money came from. Not only will there be fewer seasonal workers to maintain the beach this summer, there was a massive cut to the $386 million Bloomberg plan to revive a number of Rockaway's parks and playgrounds.

It certainly is a brave, new world. A recent study shows that the number of homes utilizing only a cell phone as its primary means of communication has grown from three percent to 20 percent in the last year. That is a phenomenal growth, experts say, resulting from the financial crisis and the growing reliability of cell phone networks. Six in ten homes have both cell phones and landlines, while two percent have no phones at all.

With Lew Simon and other Democratic locals out of the coming City Council seat, we can look to a quiet primary season. The November election ballot seems to be set with incumbent Eric Ulrich as the Republican candidate and Frank Gulluscio, a mainlander who runs a community board, as the Democratic candidate. It should be an interesting contest, the young interloper from a outsider party against the seasoned pro. Simon says he dropped out of the race for financial reasons, but insiders tell us that Simon was told by the Democratic Queens officials that he would be stripped of his leadership post should he run in a primary. With a preponderance of Democrats in the district and the party backing one candidate, it looks as if Ulrich might have a short tenure as a City Councilman.

A plan to use the former Edgemere landfill as a solar panel farm has been floated by local politicians and officials. We look forward to the discussion.

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