2010-07-02 / Columnists


The battle for the hearts and minds of Beach Channel High School students is becoming acrimonious as the Department of Education’s new school, The Rockaway Park High School For Environmental Sustainability, seeks to take both students and valuable real estate from the present school. When a judge ruled that the city didn’t play by the rules when it attempted to phase out and close BCHS (and 18 other high schools), everybody expected that would give the school at least a year’s reprieve and would put a halt to the new school. The DOE, however, argued that closing the school had nothing to do with placing a new school in the building and went ahead with the project. BCHS staff say that they have been told to vacate several offices and the teacher’s cafeteria to make way for the new school staff. Staffers add that the new school’s assistant principal has been attempting to recruit present students from both BCHS and the Channel View School for Research for her school.

The beaches in Rockaway have been getting a lot of notice recently from citywide publications that recommend things to do during the summer. The Daily News said of Rockaway, “While nobody is going to confuse Rockaway Beach with Waikiki, the Queens beach made famous by the Ramones song is the only spot in the city where you can legally surf – and the Rockaway’s waves can stand up to Oahu’s. The Rockaways also offer beach volleyball on the sandy courts and thrashing on the adjacent skate park, plus seven playgrounds for the little ones.” New York magazine in its places to go in the summer, splits its recommendations between Fort Tilden, Rockaway Beach and Jacob Riis Beach. Of Rockaway, it says, “The quintessential urban beach – and a fine place to barbeque.” Of Riis Beach, it says, “Spaciousness plus shabbiness equals semi-legal clothlessness.” And, of Fort Tilden, the magazine says, “Lack of amenities. The former U.S. Army fort slowly being reclaimed by nature. No lifeguards, so beware of riptides. Bring food and water – and toilet paper.”

At the same time the Department of Education is cutting its budget to the bone by ridding itself of parent coordinators, aides and teachers, it has created a new $100,000- plus position called a “Sustainability Director.” The person in that position is supposed to bring the department into the “green” world. Would you, however, rather have teachers or a Sustainability Director?

A list of the people who donated to State Senator Malcolm Smith’s campaign fund over the past two years runs to 108 pages. The Wave has been perusing the list for the past week or so, and several interesting things jump off the pages. Smith gets lots of money from developers and real estate interests (including some connected with Arverne By The Sea) and those interested in charter schools. Stay tuned for a future story.

Two state politicians, one in the Senate and the other in the Assembly, have come up with a new law that would mandate warnings on Sippy Cups. That warning would say that the Sippy Cups could lead to tooth decay and obesity. The Assembly voted to approve the bill 138-6.

A new Quinnipiac University poll says that 83 percent of New York’s voters believe that our state government is inept and worse. That 17 percent approval rating is the lowest ever achieved by a state government, and many believe that it is richly deserved. One New York City retired teacher who was questioned for the poll said, “All of our politicians seem to be criminals. It’s very disconcerting.”

The demise of ferry service from Riis Landing to Manhattan is a blow to those who commuted regularly on the service, but the ridership never got to the level necessary to keep it going. The city promises to do a study on ferry service for all of New York City, including Rockaway, but we would not hold our collective breath waiting for any future ferry service. Unfortunately, the Rockaway Princess was the wrong boat in the wrong place with the wrong schedule for the great majority of Rockaway residents. Perhaps the next time around, the service will be developed to serve all of Rockaway.

So you see a construction team putting up a telephone pole directly in the middle of the sidewalk, forcing those with wheelchairs or baby carriages off the sidewalk and into the street. Because you have never seen a telephone pole directly in the center of a sidewalk before you ask the foreman if the poles are being put up in the right place. The answer you get is “I’m glad I’m not the engineer who designed this.” Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer calls and finds out that the project has all the proper city permits saying its perfectly alright to put a telephone pole in the middle of the sidewalk. The next day, a LIPA en-gineer shows up, takes one look and says that “it’s perfectly appropriate” to place telephone poles in the middle of sidewalks. What world are we living in?

For two years, talks have been going on between the Merrick Academy Charter School, founded by Senator Malcolm Smith and the UFT. The teachers at the school have requested UFT representation, but the school’s board is fighting the change. Smith is supposed to be the union’s friend and yet his school is fighting union representation. Strange!

The story about the settlement in the dog pack assault case said that the victim got $75,000 from the city when, in fact, the amount was $750,000. We regret the typographical error.

A reminder that Monday, July 5 is a holiday and therefore the weekend no parking rules in the west end remain in effect.

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