2009-08-21 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Kenny Good, who, along with his brother Steve, owns the Beach Club on Beach 116 Street, called to say that we got our story about that site wrong last week, because the prospective buyer, Orin Evenhar, has already pulled out of the deal. "He was going to buy it, but he pulled out and screwed us over," Good told The Wave on Monday. Good says he is trying to raise some money to reopen what was once one of the area's prominent restaurants and catering halls. Failing that, Good says, the bank will probably take the property in foreclosure. Locals are complaining that Congressman Anthony Weiner has not scheduled a town hall meeting in Rockaway to address the health care reform issue. Weiner did hold a town hall meeting on that issue at a senior citizen center in Howard Beach, but gave no advance notice to either media or residents. Last week he held a forum in Forest Hills and tried to keep the television cameras out of the hall. Weiner told The Wave that he favors a single-payer system, a plan that usually means a government plan that is non-profit, something this paper has advocated as well, but that has lots of local seniors worried that they will lose their present private insurance plan and be forced to pay for a government plan instead.

A group of young Rockaway residents who belong to the local Madison Square Boys and Girls Club appeared on Fox 5's Good Day New York program with Anne Craig last week to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the national organization. The birthday party was held at the club's headquarters at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and was attended by lots of celebrities from the entertainment and sports industries.

Some west end activists are gearing up for a fight against a local developer's plan to build an apartment building with low-cost rental units on the site where the Beach Club once stood. The developer, Orin Evenhar, is the same person who developed the Seavon building a few blocks west of the Beach 116 Street Beach Club site. Evenhar had problems with the city on his former development, building too close to the property line. Locals say that the site is not a proper place to put affordable housing and that they would like to see market-rate homes or condominiums sited there.

Two local supermarkets, both owned by the same company, have been warned by the city's Commission on Human Rights that they have to have "open and independent" access to their markets for people with mobile disabilities. At present, both have gates around the entrance and exit doors that can only be opened by a staffer with a key, something that is in violation of the city's administrative laws and the federal laws prohibiting discrimination against those with disabilities. The owners argue that too many shopping carts disappear when open access is granted, but the city says that is not an excuse. The owner of both Key Food on Beach 105 Street and the NSA Supermarket at Beach 87 Street have been warned and now face sanctions if they do not remove the gates, the city agency says.

We can't remember any year in which there were so many drowning and near-drowning incidents in waters surrounding the peninsula. In addition to the five drownings in the ocean, there have been three in Jamaica Bay this year. Experts wonder why the rip currents are particularly vicious this year. Experienced lifeguards have told us that this is the worst year they have ever seen on the beach. Experts say that there are several factors that might be in play. First, there may have been some natural occurrence, such as a sandbar collapsing or reforming at the entrance to the East Rockaway Inlet, that could have intensified the currents, or the phenomenon might be man-made, formed by dredging of the channel to make it more usable for boats.

It's funny how much trouble all of those billionaires who graduated from Far Rockaway High School can get into. You all know about Bernie (FRHS class of '55) and Ruth (FRHS class of '58) Madoff and all of their notoriety, but now comes Carl Ichan (FRHS class of '53), the billionaire whose ex-workers are suing his younger wife for excluding them from the "circle," an exclusive club of staffers and their spouses that got all the perks in Ichan's company. Poor billionaires, what problems they face.

Mark your calendar for the weekend of September 12 and 13, when both the Rockaway Kite Festival and the Rockaway Music and Arts Council's Fall Festival hit Riis Park, and the Rockaway Artists Alliance's month-long ARTSPLASH arts festival opens in Fort Tilden. They are three of the don't-miss events of the late summer.

The Leon S. Locke Memorial Concert hosted by the Rockaway Music and Arts Council and featuring Kenny Vance and the Planotones has been rescheduled for August 23 at Riis Park. In case of rain, the concert will be held at the Fort Tilden Post Theater. Locke, a doo wop aficionado who had a massive collection of old recordings, helped set up the concerts many years ago.

A reminder to all parents that the school calendar is a little different this year. Labor Day falls on September 7. All teachers and staff are due in the schools on September 8 to get ready for the kids, who will show up in school on September 9. Those first few days are half-days for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students. By Monday, September 14, everybody will be on a regular schedule.

We don't understand why people keep swimming in Rockaway waters without lifeguard protection. On August 7, a Jamaica man was lost while he was swimming in the East Rockaway Inlet at 3 a.m. on a steamy night. After he was swept out to sea, his girlfriend said that the city should have posted signs on the beach to say that it was dangerous to swim when no lifeguards are on duty. The fact is, the signs were there, but it was probably too dark for her to see them.

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