2010-01-29 / Columnists


The Department of Education says that Beach Channel High School remains on track for a phase-out beginning in September. The DOE’s Educational Priorities Panel voted on Tuesday to move ahead with the plan despite pleas to save the school from parents, students, alumni and politicians. Current plans call for a new public high school to be in place for September. A spokesperson for the DOE told us that the new school “would leverage the geography of the school.” When we asked if the vaunted oceanography program was returning, we got a vague “maybe.” The spokesperson then told us that the DOE was working with the community to set the theme for the school. When we asked, however, with whom the DOE was working, he said that he did not know, but that he was sure there were “community” people involved. So, if any of you are working with the DOE on the new school, please let us know. We’d love to speak with you about what’s going on.

If you are like many other Americans who read his books or watch the television movies based on his novels, you will mourn the passing of Robert Parker at the age of 77. Parker was most famous for his “Spenser” detective series, covering more than two decades and 37 novels. In later years, he developed new characters, such as Jesse Stone and Sonny Randall, but they were all basically Spenser in another setting. More recently, he has been dabbling in westerns. Whatever he wrote, however, turned to gold and many spent long hours living in the worlds he created with his words. He will be missed because there is no other writer so prolific and so on-point when it comes to hard-boiled detectives and characters such as Spenser, Hawk and Susan Silverman.

Brown’s Hardware on Beach 116 Street will be taking monetary donations for the Habitat for Humanity through February 14. The TrueValue Corporation will then match those funds dollar for dollar. The money will be used to rebuild homes in Haiti.

Environmental regulators have cited the New York Racing Association for polluting Jamaica Bay. State records show that both of the Queens racetracks, Aqueduct and Belmont, were cited for pumping manure, wastewater and other pollutants into the bay. Reports say that the violations have cost the association hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past year, money it can ill afford. The NYRA is already so deep in debt, it has asked for a $30 million bail-out from the state. Organization officials say that it may have to cancel next year’s Belmont Stakes because of a lack of funds.

The Blue Angels, the Navy’s highperformance acrobatic team will appear at Jones Beach once again this May. There was a time when the team performed in Coney Island and it’s high-flying show could be viewed from Rockaway beaches, but that ended more than a decade ago when the change was made to a Long Island venue. The show is free, but there is a parking charge for those who get there early enough to find a spot. Others park along the roadway and sit on their vehicles to enjoy the show. Mark your calendar for May 29 and 30. Both the Saturday and Sunday shows begin a 10 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.

The final numbers are in, and they are staggering. Mike Bloomberg spent slightly more than $108 million of his own money to keep his office. That’s about $185 a vote — something of a world record. Add to that all the money he threw around to individuals and non-profit groups on his own to earn their endorsement and you have what many believe is a a truly obscene amount of money spent to win an election.

The New York City Department of Small Business Services in partnership with the city’s Economic Development Corporation will construct waterfront access to Jamaica Bay through a $1,400,000 grant. The project will complement Arverne By the Sea’s development of a marina in the area of Beach 80 Street and Beach Channel Drive, on Barbados Basin. The project will include walking paths, a fishing pier, a community garden and a launching site for small watercraft such as kayaks and canoes. The entire city portion of the project will cost about $2.8 million.

We warned you last year that Mayor Mike Bloomberg planned to take both your salt and your ability to smoke on the beach. At least one of those warnings has come to fruition. Bloomberg and his health commissioner have announced a voluntary 25 percent reduction on salt on all foods. The most drastic reduction are for cereals, pretzels, potato chips, hot dogs, bacon, processed cheese and canned vegetables, as well as for fast food favorites such as pizza and fried shrimp. Can the beach smoking ban be far behind?

The fact that the west end’s new City Councilman, Eric Ulrich, held a swearing-in ceremony at the Scholars’ Academy on January 17 bodes well for the peninsula. It signifies Ulrich’s commitment to Rockaway. Addabbo was never sworn in at a Rockaway venue, nor was his predecessor, Al Stabile. Ulrich has been very active in trying to keep Beach Channel High School open and has quietly been meeting with local organizations to find out their needs.

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