2010-06-18 / Columnists


The Far Rockaway community is banding together to fight the proposed closing of FDNY’s Engine 328, one of the three fire units stationed at the “Big House” on Central Avenue. While the city agency has still not formally notified the community board of the company’s closing, firefighters have been told to start the closing-down process. The loss of the engine would cause a response crisis in the heavily developed community, because there is no chance for mutual aid from Nassau County communities, and the nearest FDNY units are in Rockaway Beach and Jamaica.

The Cancer Society’s “Relay For Life,” which was held at Riis Park last weekend, was once again a big success. More than a dozen teams showed up to raise funds to fight the dreaded disease and had a good time raising the money, walking laps and watching the moving “luminaria” ceremony, in which hundreds of candles were lit to honor those who defeated Cancer as well as those who succumbed.

The hottest new kid’s fad, Silly Bandz, has created a stir on the peninsula. A teen was arrested two weeks ago trying to boost some packages of the silicon bands, which the kids wear, collect and trade. Some local schools have even banned the bracelets from the building on the grounds that they deter education. The DOE says that’s OK, that it’s up to the individual principal to decide whether or not to ban the Bandz. They are made in a variety of colors and, when removed from the wrist, they shrink into dozens of shapes like guitars, stars and dog bones.

Jerry, the owner of the 101 Deli in Rockaway Park called us to say that he is going bonkers over the rumor that his store is up for sale. “I’m getting all these calls,” Jerry said. “The rumors are not true. The 101 Deli is not up for sale. I don’t know how this rumor started, or who started it, but I wish it would just go away.”

The city is moving forward with its plan to ban cigarettes from its beaches, something that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley have both proposed in the past. Officials say that the Parks Department could impose the ban on its own, or the City Council could make it a law. The Coalition for a Smoke-Free City held a demonstration at Coney Island last week, demanding the ban. Officials of the coalition say that smoking is not only bad for people, but that the discarded butts on the beach create a health problem all their own.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not just spend more money on politics last year than anyone else in New York City, he spent more on politics than everyone else in New York City combined. Records show that the mayor spent $110 million to get reelected, while all other New Yorkers combined donated $90.7 million to candidates and parties. While some $10.6 million of Bloomberg’s money went directly to his campaign, an additional $2.2 million went to the Republican and Independence parties, which put the mayor on their ballots.

Sometimes, Rockaway residents are their own worst enemies. Questioned by a Wall Street Journal reporter about Rockaway, West End Realty agent Valerie Clarke said, “I’m not going to lie to you, there is no good food here,” and “[With a cell phone,] you can get your drugs and pizza delivered directly to the beach.” We have to wonder where Clarke has her head buried. Right on the street where she works there are several good restaurants serving a variety of foods. As for the drugs, that particular joke has been around for a long time, and it is not one that anybody would give to a reporter as a serious piece of information.

There are conflicting signs on the boardwalk as to when riding a bicycle is allowed. Some signs say, “Bicycle Riding Permitted between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., May 1 to September 30.” Other signs say, “Bicycle Riding Permitted after 10 a.m., except on weekends and holidays, May 1 Through September 30.” We asked the Parks Department to clarify the rules for us, but so far they seem as confused as we do.

Where is Senator Chuck Schumer when we need him? In a New York Times piece last week, Schumer was praised for helping a Brooklyn rock concert series stay alive when it was about to be closed down by city officials. The Times piece says that Schumer “threw his considerable support behind the events, pressuring the city and state parks officials to renew the permits.” Why not Rockaway? In case you haven’t noticed, there will be no summer concert series in Rockaway this summer, nor will there be a fall festival because the National Park Service priced the events out of existence. Perhaps Schumer, who sits in the body that funds the NPS, can do us some good. By the way, NPS officials were scheduled to show up at Community Board 14 last week to face the community’s anger. They chose not to appear.

The Broad Channel American Legion Post will host an Adult Karaoke Night at its hall on Cross Bay Boulevard on June 26, from 6 to 10 p.m. The fundraiser is in honor of Legionnaire Fang A. Wong, a New Yorker who is bidding to become the organization’s National Commander.

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