Police officers virtually cut off the center of the peninsula on both Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach Channel Drive on the evening of Wednesday, April 7. A team of cops stopped each vehicle as it came to a choke point, checked license and registration and even ran the registration through a computer they had set up on the side of the road. Scooter cops chased down anybody who turned away from the blockade. While safety checks are often made in that general vicinity, the April 7 stops seemed to have a little more urgency. Perhaps the stops were as a result of several “shots fired” calls in Edgemere and Arverne that afternoon.
Rockaway in general and local surfers in particular got some good news from Congressman Anthony Weiner this week with the announcement that the beaches devastated by recent storms would be repaired by Memorial Day, the official start of the beach season. The sand will be pumped out of the East Rockaway Inlet on the eastern end of the peninsula and then moved by pipe westward to the beaches around Beach 90 Street.
Those who are interested in seeing the Rockaway ferry commuter service continue after July 1 should mark their calendar for April 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club (Beach 126 Street and Beach Channel Drive). Councilman Eric Ulrich will host a community meeting about the ferry service that will include local politicians and a representative from the mayor’s office. Locals can ask questions and address their concerns about the commuter service.
Come on out Sunday, April 25 and run a fast 5K on the boardwalk. The annual Rockaway Rotary Ocean Run, sponsored once again by Sweet N’ Low in honor of Rockaway icon Barbara Eisenstadt, will be begin at 10 a.m. on the boardwalk at Beach 116 Street. The after-race party and awards ceremony will be held at the Irish Circle (Beach 102 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard) following the race.
Beginning May 1, Census Enumerators will visit the homes of those Rockaway residents who did not return their 2010 Census forms to the government. That tally will last through July 10, and locals are urged to return their forms as soon as possible. A correct count is important to Rockaway in its hunt to move from multiple legislators in city and state bodies to a single legislator. For example, in the City Council, we have James Sanders Jr. representing the east end and Eric Ulrich the west end. To get a single representative for entire peninsula, we need about 150,000 residents. At last count, we had slightly more than 120,000 residents and growing. So far, the best return response has been from Neponsit and Breezy Point, the worst from Arverne, Edgemere and Bayswater.
Because of a large deficit, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) may have to revoke rental-assistance vouchers from thousands of lowincome tenants, many of them in Rockaway, causing them to lose their subsidized apartments. The program, widely-known as Section 8, got far less money then expected from the federal government, officials say, forcing the cutback. The problem was exacerbated by NYCHA, which continued to give the vouchers to needy families even after the federal government warned that the money to back them up might not be forthcoming this year. Officials say that rather than revoking the vouchers they may cut the value of each one, forcing recipients or landlords to make up the difference. In either case, the new rules may well drive many families from their apartments and into city shelters. Ex-Rockaway resident Alex Storozyinski, who once won a Pulitzer Prize as a member of the Daily News Editorial Board has been chosen to receive the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award for his 2009 book, “The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuscko and the Age of Revolution.”
The Department of Education is keeping a close counsel on what will happen to Beach Channel High School now that the court has ruled that the city can’t phase it out and close it down without holding proper public hearings. The Department of Education told us earlier in the week that it is moving ahead with placing a new school, The Rockaway Park High School of Environmental Sustainability, into the building. The DOE says that they can’t close BCHS under the ruling, but there is nothing stopping them from placing a new school in the building.
School officials say that Community School District 27, which includes all of the Rockaway public schools, could lose 276 of its 2,512 teachers if Governor Paterson’s budget cuts are realized. By percentage, that’s the deepest cut in Queens and one of the deepest cuts in the city. There is hope that the State Assembly will restore the cuts, but with all the fiscal problems faced by the state, that possibility is unclear.