2009-12-18 / Columnists


The Department of Education has changed the time of the January 6 meeting to address the closing of Beach Channel High School. The meeting will be held in the school auditorium at 6 p.m. rather than at 7:30 as previously announced.

City Councilman Erich Ulrich told The Wave last week that he has no interest in running for the mainland State Senate seat now held by Joseph Addabbo Jr. "I was elect ed for four years, and I plan to serve the entire term," he said. His statement was in response to published reports that the Repub licans were seeking to retake control of the Senate and believed that Ulrich was the candidate that could help them regain that vital seat.

The new city plan that reduced some FDNY engine units from five firefighters to four does not impact any of the engine companies in Rockaway, according to Battalion 47 Chief Mike McGrath. All of Rockaway's engine com panies are manned by four-person crews at the present time.

Renovation has finally begun on the Far Rockaway Shopping Cen - ter, according to Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, who has been fighting to turn the blighted property into a viable shopping area for more than a dozen years. Gaska says that there will be new storefronts and all new lighting and that two major retailers are on board. In addition, the parking lot will now be monitored. Gaska hopes that the work will be completed by late spring of 2010.

Speaking of Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, he announced recently that the city is trying to save $2.7 million by cutting the agency's budget. In fact, those cuts might well put the community board's out of existence altogether. That would be a shame, because the citizen volunteer board serves a vital function as a middleman between the city and its residents. The city spends more each year to plant trees. Why not stop planting trees and refund the community boards?

Rockaway residents who ride the A Train will experience even more delays than normal in the next few weeks as the MTA repairs the subway trestle. It seems that the South Channel Bridge, which carries the subway over Jamaica Bay does not lock properly when it has to open for boat traffic.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vetoed a City Council bill that would give motorists a five-minute grace period before they are ticketed for parking in the wrong place on alternate side days or when their meter expires. One amaz - ing statistic that came out of the battle between the mayor and the council is that 300,000 tickets are issued annually within five minutes of the alternate side parking regulations going into effect. There are times that the parking enforcement agents seem more like the ferrets in "Who Killed Roger Rabbit," predators just waiting to strike the unfortunate who are a minute or two late in getting back to their cars after grabbing a paper or a cup of coffee. Last week, a Wave staffer saw two parking enforcement cars at the northern end of Beach 129 Street, at about 7:58 in the morning, just wait ing to swoop down on the cars parked on the eastern curb while people were inside the stores buying their morning wares.

Two local organization, Rockaway WISH and the Rockaway Irish Boys (RIB's) teamed up last week to host a Treats With Santa event at St. Francis de Sales Church. The event drew more than 150 children, each of whom got a small gift and the chance to take a photo with Santa. Parents of the children who attended were ask ed to bring a food donation, and four large cartons of food were delivered to local parishes to feed the hungry during the holiday season.

A number of locals who have parking permits because of a handicap say that the redesigned municipal parking lot is designed incorrectly. Seems the city put the handicap designated spaces at the rear of the first line of parking slots, more distant from Beach 116 Street than the spots at the front of that line. Seems like a strange construction because in most parking lots the handicap spots are right in front.

If you are interested in the environmental health of your local com munity, you can now track the information on line. The city De - part ment of Health has set up a website that will help Rockaway res idents find out about local health issues at www.nyc.gov/ health/tracking.

Far Rockaway High School basketball great Nancy Lieberman, who has become one of the best-known women in the country, is being honored once again in Manhattan for her work in ad- vancing women's athletics. After driving through Bayswater and Far Rockaway lately, she told a columnist, "It's crazy for me to be going in and out of these streets. This is where it all started for me." Lieberman honed her skills at the PS 104 playground, a few blocks from her home, taking on all-comers, including the boys who played for the Far Rockaway High School boy's team and good players from all over the city who came to challenge her. Next spring, Lieberman will be come the first woman to coach a men's professional basketball team, when she takes the helm of the Dallas Maverick's team in the NBA's developmental league. It probably won't be too many years before she's coaching in the NBA.

It's good to see the pile drivers working on both the YMCA and the Stop & Shop sites around Beach 73 Street. There are many locals who were sure that the two facilities were illusionary - something promised by the city but never delivered. Now, they can be assured that the much-needed amenities are real and that they will be completed and in operation by summer of 2010.

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