2009-11-13 / Columnists

Beachcomber

In next week's edition, The Wave will run its annual listing and photographs of registered sex offenders living in Rock away. The number is up from last year, so be sure to take a look at our two-page spread to see who is living on your block.

Eight years ago, there were 14 sch - ools in Rockaway. Today, after the Board of Education was dissolved and the Department of Education took over under mayoral control, there are 24. Each of those seven new schools has its own administrative staff, teachers, guidance counselors and secretaries. At the same time, many of the former elementary schools have gained a mid dle school component and several of the original 14 schools now share their buildings with new en - tities. Eight years ago, there were three middle schools in Rock away. Now, there are none, with the exception of the Scholars' Academy (the former JHS 180), which is the gifted magnet school for Region Five. MS 53 now has far less students because the great majority of its feeder schools have become grades K-8 and it shares its building with the Village Academy. The former JHS 198 is now the Goldie Maple Academy, a K-8 sch ool.

The Sisters of St. Joseph, the order that owns and operates Stella Maris High School and recently announced that it will close the 66-year-old school at the end of the academic year, has just sold another property in Rockaway - this one in Neponsit. For years, a group of nuns called 346 Beach 145 Street their home. The order recently sold the home for $735,000. Local brokers tell is that the sale for that price in the tony community was akin to "giving it away." Most homes in the area go for more than a million dollars. It seems to the realtor that the sisters just want to get out of the peninsula altogether and that they will soon announce a sale of the Stella Maris beachfront property. That piece of land with the building, the realtor says, is worth something in the vicinity of $3.5 to $5 million depending on what the new owner plans to do with it. The property, we are told, is zoned R- 5, which means that a developer could build three-story garden apartments or condominiums on the site "as of right."

Speaking of Stella Maris, a large group of alumni have formed a group called "Operation: Save Flip - per" to keep the school open. The group has made an offer to the Sis - ters of St. Joseph, but won't talk about the offer until the Sisters respond to their offer. We assume that the group wants something akin to the Christ The King situation, in which a lay board took over the school and made it co-ed.

The state leadership is still trying to get the last measure from the developers who want to put a video game gambling Racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in nearby Ozone Park. The Governor has announced that he wants a guarantee of $200 million in front money and proof that the developer has the money before making a decision - a decision that has been dragging on for more than two years and is getting more political by the day. Steve Wynn, who is often called the Casino King, has drop - ped out of the bidding because of the governor's machinations and increasing demands. It is time to get the job done and make a decision, one based on economics and entertainment values rather than on political promises.

Broad Channel residents are again asking the city to place a barrier between the bicycle lane on Cross Bay Boulevard and the roadway itself. The movement for the barrier began last April when a woman walking her dog along the bicycle path in the wildlife refuge was hit and killed by an SUV that left the roadway and went into the refuge. Area residents say that the stretch of road, which has seen more than its shares of fatal accidents in re - cent years, is the longest in the city without a traffic light. The DOT has said that it won't put up the barrier because it is not cost-effective. If the city can spend $1,000 a tree to plant one million trees, it surely can find the money to save a few lives.

A recent federal lawsuit alleging that toll discounts for New York State residents who live near the Thruway are illegal may well have an impact on Rockaway's toll rebate on the Cross Bay Bridge. Representative Michael Mc - Mahon, who represents Staten Island, another community that could have a toll reduction problem, has introduced a bill that would protect toll reductions and rebates based on residential status throughout the nation. We hope that Anthony Weiner and Greg Meeks will sign on in sponsoring the bill.

The New York City Fire Depart - ment is advising all residents that it is time to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. FDNY says that the best time to do that is when the clocks are turned back to Eastern Stan d - ard Time each year because changing the clocks will serve as a re - minder to change batteries as well.

The New York Post reports that the cost of new homes is down everywhere ex - cept for Rockaway. "With the exception of the Rockaways, every section of Brook lyn and Queens posted lower prices compared with the same period in 2008," the Post said. "In the Rock - aways, the median sales price in - creased 9.6 percent to $447,500 compared with the third quarter of 2008." The Post attributed the rise to "new beachfront developments."

Remember to head for the RMAC art and photography show at the West End Temple on Beach 147 Street this Sunday, November 15. The show, which begins at 11 a.m. is in memory of civic activist and art patron Barbara Eisenstadt.

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