2010-08-13 / Columnists

East End Matters...

Shopping Centers, Bungalows, And The Mets
Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

For 30 years the Thriftway Shopping Center, the linchpin in the Far Rockaway business district, has been neglected and fallen into disrepair. Once filled with stores, now there are only four active businesses in the little mall.

Over the last few years I’ve written many news articles regarding the on-again, off-again prospects for revitalizing the site. Several weeks ago the most promising sign of revitalization came when the summer newsletter from Councilman James Sanders Jr. landed in his constituent’s mailboxes. The news – Sanders had met with the owner of the shopping center, Rita Stark, to discuss how to make it into a thriving business entity again. We have since learned that the meeting was not a one-time thing and that negotiations are ongoing.

This is music to the ears of those Sanders represents on the east end. Is this finally going to bring shovels in the ground and changes to the shopping center? We can only hope, but if Stark had been at the community meeting when Sanders announced the developments she would have heard the sound of exhaling as a relieved community gets closer than ever to making the shopping center what it once, which, in turn, should do wonders for the rest of the business district.

Congratulations to Sanders and Stark for taking the first step in what will surely be a long, tough process. Things don’t change overnight, but at least the process has begun. In addition, the new Rockaway Task Force should put the shopping center high on its ‘to do’ list.

Stunning. Super job. Masterful job. Those were the comments from past and present Rockaway residents after seeing the new documentary, “The Bungalows of Rockaway."

The film was directed by Jennifer Callahan and produced by Callahan and Elizabeth Logan Harris. As I’ve written elsewhere in this week’s paper, the history of Rockaway’s bungalows were brought to life through old black and white home movies and photos, and interviews with former and current residents.

The documentary traces the bungalows from when they first appeared on the peninsula in the early 1900s, to when there were 7,000 of them in 1933, to today when there are only 387 left in Rockaway.

The film brought tears, smiles and applause at the premiere showing at the Museum of the City of New York last month. Callahan and Harris did a marvelous job.

Those who want to see the documentary can attend a screening at Fort Tilden on August 22; in addition, it will be aired on PBS Channel 13 on September 16 at 8 p.m.

What can you say about what has gone on in Flushing this season? It is definitely time for Mets manager Jerry Manuel to go.

The decisions he makes baffle the mind. On August 6 Mets relievers Bobby Parnell and then Pedro Feliciano gave up the go ahead runs to the Phillies after the Mets led 2-1. Manuel then brought in reliever Manny Acosta, who had been lights out in his recent appearances and did the same that night.

Why didn’t Manuel go straight to Acosta? Because Manuel goes by a formula of whose inning is whose job. As of Tuesday the Baltimore Orioles, the worst team in baseball, are 7-1 since Buck Showalter took over as manager on August 3. Apparently new managers can work.

Recently General Manager Omar Minaya told the Times, “When the team is not playing well, as the general manager, you’ve got to take the responsibility.”

For Minaya those responsibilities include the huge contracts he gave to starting pitcher Oliver Perez and second baseman Luis Castillo. Castillo is now on the bench. But Perez, who refuses to go to the minors, is taking up a spot on the roster that could be used by another player.

It also includes not signing another starting pitcher, like Joel Pineiro, in the off-season. Pineiro had 10 wins before going on the disabled list recently. The only acquisition of note last winter, Jason Bay, hasn’t shown to be worth all the hoopla.

Clueless describes the owners – the Wilpons.

Last week Fred Wilpon, when asked if Minaya would be back next year said, “Is the sun going to come up?” He didn’t elaborate, but it doesn’t sound like good news for fans. According to the Daily News, when queried more about the team Wilpon said, “I have a feeling that Jeff [Wilpon] talks and he’s more talking about the Mets and the important thing is really Omar. Omar is the person who represents the Mets from a baseball point of view.” What?! He has a feeling? As owner, doesn’t he know?

Mets fans deserve a lot better.

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