2009-09-11 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Don't forget to mark your calendar this weekend for three of the premier events of the year - the Rockaway Music and Arts Council Fall Festival, the Rockaway Kite Festival and the opening of the month-long multi-media arts celebration, ARTSPLASH, presented by the Rockaway Artists Alliance. The first two will run at Riis Park on both Saturday and Sunday. The third, in the gallery buildings in Fort Tilden, begins Saturday, with a Sunday reception 1-3 p.m. We strongly suggest you make the time to attend all three.

While many Rockaway beachgoers have complained for years about the way the Parks Enforcement Police (PEP) rule the beaches, ordering local residents around and even occasionally running them over in their ATVs, residents in other parts of Queens are complaining that they have too few PEP officers patrolling their parks. In fact, on any given day, officials say, there are only two patrol officers for the remainder of the borough while Manhattan gets dozens of officers for Central Park alone. There are times when we would gladly loan those who patrol the beaches to anybody who wants them.

The city handed out 13,000 fewer parking summonses this fiscal year, which ended on June 30, and saw its ticket revenues fall by $30 million despite the fact that the mayor has hired a record number of traffic agents even while cutting police officers and firefighters. In addition, officials say, many who get ticketed do not pay. Rockaway residents tell us, however, that traffic agents have been more active than ever this summer and that last weekend a team of agents went up and down the shopping area of Beach 129 Street, ticketing the dozens of doubleparkers who ran into the stores to get the Sunday papers or pick up a quart of milk. One eyewitness to the ticket blitz told us that at least 25 locals got ticketed in a 20- minute period.

The New York Times gave big play to the beach clubs in Breezy Point two weeks ago, pointing out that the private clubs, which cater to a mostlywhite crowd, are on public land. The clubs were forced to offer day memberships last year, in an attempt to make the clientele more diverse. However, the Times points out, this has largely failed, especially because the one day rental charge for a family can run as high as $200. The clubs, both owned by the same man and run under a federal parks department concession, have two more years to go before the National Parks Service reviews all of the park's concession contracts and may well close them down completely.

One Rockaway establishment got big play from the media over the last month of the summer. The Rockaway Taco shack was highlighted on the pages of the New York Times, The Wave and New York Magazine. In addition, Channel 7 Eyewitness News did a nice piece on the stand last weekend. The media calls the taco shack the go-to place for surfers and DFDs, but it has been a big draw for locals as well.

The Beachcomber does not often comment on international news, but the recent indictment brought against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has local overtones. At the center of the scandal is Woodmere millionaire Morris Talansky, who owns property in Rockaway and has used it to house, primarily, ultra-Orthodox Jews. When 123-11 Rockaway Beach Boulevard was renovated, for example, Talansky promised the community high-priced condominiums. Instead, the building, which now sports a swimming pool, has been used as a high-cost hotel by Talansky, renting the apartments to the orthodox community on a short-term basis.

The Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, September 15. Residents can vote at their traditional voting precincts. Since this is a party-line vote, the majority of contests are Democratic. There are primary elections for candidate for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President and City Council in the 31st District. There is no primary for the City Council seat in the western end of the peninsula because both the Democratic and Republican candidates are running unopposed for the seat. Look for The Wave's endorsements on page 4 of this edition.

This is the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which killed more than 70 locals and injured several first responders. To honor those who died that tragic day, we are publishing a fourpage special section memorializing that day - a day that most of us will never forget.

While the mayor has not yet announced a city-wide ceremony honoring those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001, you can be sure that the mayor will be on Beach 116 Street on November 12, only two weeks after his reelection on November 3.

Rockaway Bagel, at Beach 113 Street and Beach Channel Drive will again be handing out free breakfast to first responders today, Friday, September 11 in memory of all those who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

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