2010-05-28 / Columnists

Beachcomber

If you have heard rumors that your local library is slated to close due to budget cuts, don’t believe it, at least for now. A spokesperson for the Queens Public Library told The Wave this week that, while it is possible that up to 14 libraries may be closed completely and others may be closed several days a week, no firm decision will be made until the end of June, when the new state budget will hopefully be presented. “Anything you hear before the end of June is a rumor,” the spokesperson said. “Don’t believe it. When the budget comes out, it won’t be all or nothing and we will make decisions based on what is best for our customers.” While no individual libraries have been designated, the executive budget for the Queens Public Library system calls for the layoff of 412 employees, 14 libraries closed completely, 34 libraries closed four or five days a week, 12 libraries open five days a week, and one library (the central library in Jamaica) to be open seven days a week.

Former Far Rockaway resident Sean Bell was remembered last week when a Jamaica street was named in his honor. Bell was killed early in the morning of November 25, 2006 coming from his bachelor party in a strip bar when police believed that somebody in his party had a gun and peppered the car in which he was riding with more than 50 shots. The officers were found not guilty in the shooting and federal prosecutors refused to take the case to federal court. There is now a civil lawsuit against the officers, brought by Nicole Paultre Bell, the mother of his two children. The proposal to name the Jamaica street for Bell sparked lots of controversy, with some local politicians backing the naming and many others protesting the plan.

Police sources say that the summer detail of officers provided to the 100 Precinct to patrol the beach and boardwalk has been cut this year to 25 officers from the traditional 35. The summer detail is provided by the NYPD because of the large influx of people to Rockaway during the summer season.

The Parks Department says that it will replace the broken benches on the beach side of the boardwalk, but not those on the northern side. Parks hopes that one day soon it will build a bike lane along the northern side of the boardwalk for its entire length.

Those who use Rockaway Beach Boulevard east of Beach 67 Street will notice that work has started on that stretch of the new Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Sources at Arverne By The Sea say that the new portion of road will open in four to five months.

The State Board of Regents voted last week to delay the release of student test results because, a spokesperson says, the state needs more time to make sure the tests are being scored fairly. Both the state and the city Department of Education have come under fire for the rising test scores they have reported over the past four years because the federal tests in the same area, testing the same students, shows that there is no rise in reading scores and only a minimal rise in math scores. The discrepancy between state and federal results has embarrassed the Regents and they want to get it right this time, experts say.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that he was giving a temporary reprieve to the 20 fire companies he planned to cut because of the budget crisis. So far, he has ruled out cuts for police and firefighters but still plans to lay off more than a thousand teachers and cut both senior centers and libraries. Everybody is holding their collective breath, waiting for Albany to get its act together and come up with a budget.

In a plan that would impact everybody in Rockaway who rides the A Train to Manhattan on a regular basis, the MTA is considering a fundamental change in how it performs major repairs on its myriad of lines. Presently, the agency shuts a subway line down for short periods of time to do the repairs, and therefore takes a long time to complete the repairs. That is why many notice that a number of stations on the A-Line and the line itself is often closed on weekends for station renovations and track repair. It often takes many months of such weekend closures to complete the necessary work. From now on, however, under the new plan, lines under repair will be closed for much longer periods of time, giving the MTA the ability to complete the work in one long closing. “Maybe, we need to say, ‘your line is not running,’ said former Rockaway resident Jay Walder, the MTA chairman. “And we’ll get in there and do the track work and the other work in an all-out, very concentrated, period of time.”

The Duane Reade pharmacy chain recently put out a summer-oriented brochure that it calls “Summer Sizzle,” in which is points out the “Beaches with Special Features.” Among them are Jacob Riis Park for its clothing-optional beach and Coney Island for Nathan’s and the Aquarium. There is no mention of Rockaway Beach, even though we have the longest boardwalk in the nation.

The Far Rockaway High School class of 1960 is planning its 50th reunion for November 6 at the Crowne Plaza LaGuardia hotel. There will be two major events. There will be a dinner on Saturday night in the Grand Ballroom and then a Sunday brunch in the hotel’s restaurant. Those who want further information or who want to make a reservation should contact Arline Rogoff Littman at arlinelit@- aol.com. Littman adds, “It is amazing that 50 years flew by so fast, and we are all still teenagers at heart.”

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