2009-08-07 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Rockaway's beaches got a passing grade last week from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which issued a report stating that both Coney Island and Rockaway had safe beaches, getting three stars out of five. Other beaches in New York City did not fare as well, however. Orchard Beach in the Bronx and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn both got thumbs down from the noted organization.

In our July 24 issue, we ran an article entitled, "Local Hospitals Get Mixed Grades From Patients," with an accompanying chart. The first two lines of the chart should have read the following — percent of patients who reported that their nurses "Always" communicated well: Peninsula Hospital Center 60 percent, St. John's Episcopal Hospital 58 percent; percent of patients who reported that their doctors "Always" communicated well: PHC 65 percent, SJEH 65 percent. We regret the error.

Perhaps people are getting tired of all the television ads and mailings coming from the Bloomberg reelection mill, but it seems that Bill Thompson is closing the gap, at least a little. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Comptroller Thompson has narrowed the gap against the big-spending incumbent to ten points, from the 22-point margin just a month ago. Bloomberg has spent nearly $40 million on his campaign. City Councilman Tony Avella, who is also in the Democratic candidate race, got 11 percent.

After seven years of trying to make a go of it on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Busy Bee's Learning Store is closing its doors for good on September 12. The store, located at 114-07 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, will host a going out of business sale from August 8 until closing. Everything in the store will be half-price, and everything must go, says proprietor Adam Fundleitter, who is a staffer at a local school.

City Councilman James Sanders Jr. has allocated $50 thousand to combat mosquitoes in Rockaway. The money will be used to fight the pesky bug in Arverne, Edgemere and Bayswater, the three communities hit hardest during the summer heat.

Old Rockaway hand Steve Berman died from complications of lung cancer in mid-June. Those who attended Far Rockaway High School during the mid-1950s will remember Berman as the school's star athlete - the quarterback on the football team and the star pitcher on the baseball team. Wave editor Howard Schwach remembers Berman as a friend and as one of the first local athletes to appear on Happy Felton's Knothole Gang. For those of you who do not remember the Brooklyn Dodgers, Felton had a fifteenminute show before each game at Ebbetts Field. Felton hosted three high school athletes, who worked out for a Dodger star. That star then picked a winner, who would get a small prize from the team. The show was held along the right field line, and the schools would get tickets for 150 or 200 students from each school, so that each of the athletes had a cheering section. Berman was on with Sandy Koufax, and he won that day for his pitching style. It was the highlight of the school year, probably 1955 or 1956.

Speaking of Far Rockaway High School, Gilbert Kirwin, an attorney in California wrote to say that we had an error in the story about coaching Icon Jack Kerchman, who also died recently. Kirwin, who played for Kerchman at FRHS for three years, said that the coach didn't come to the school until 1951, after teaching for a few years at a Colorado school.

Hundreds of guns sold to Virginia residents wound up on the streets of New York City last year, even more than the previous year, federal officials said last week. Virginia was the source of 372 guns that were used in crimes in the city in 2008, more than were sold in New York or any other state along the gun pipeline. Mayor Mike Bloomberg said that 88 percent of the guns recovered that were used in crimes came from outside the state. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracked guns used in New York City Crimes. In addition to those from Virginia, the majority came from Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. It really doesn't matter much whether or not New York has strict gun control laws as long as other states in the pipeline make it so easy to purchase guns. In all of those states noted in the report, people who are not registered gun sellers can sell weapons in a "private sale" without any check on who is buying the weapons.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was all over television last week, crowing about the coming Coney Island development program that will cost the city more than a billion dollars and will "restore Coney Island as a year-round destination." What he didn't say was that part of the plan is to tear down the Abe Stark Skating Arena and build his amusement park on the parking lot directly next door to Keyspan Park, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Where will those who attend the game go to park? Bloomberg declined to comment on that issue.

The action that took place on Beach 90 Street on Tuesday evening once again points out how difficult it is to gauge a response to an emergency call when the ocean is involved. On Tuesday, both a beachgoer and a lifeguard reported that a surfer was far out, attempting to get to the jetty. When the lifeguards determined that the person was too far out for a beach rescue, 911 was called. After a massive, two-hour search involving helicopters and launches, it was determined that the surfer had safely gotten himself to shore down the beach. Lots of time and money was spent looking for the man, but there was never any danger. There was no way for fire or police officials to know that, however, so the search had to go on until they were satisfied that every corner was searched.

City Councilman James Sanders Jr. has come up with some airport community money to fix up the small plaza at Beach 20 Street and Cornaga Avenue. Sanders sees the renovated plaza as a place for community events and gatherings. The fix will include new lighting and benches.

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