2010-12-10 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Longtime political activist and candidate John Baxter never fails to surprise Rockaway residents with his pronouncements and lawsuits. So, when a For Sale sign appeared on Baxter’s Beach 116 Street hotel recently, nobody was very surprised. On several occasions, developers attempted to buy the hotel as part of a development package for the entire southeastern end of the shopping street, but he steadfastly refused to sell, saying that his residents needed a place to rest their heads. Now, however, Baxter appears to be angered by the treatment he is receiving from locals who, he says, welcomed the SRO hotel next door to his establishment while excoriating him. Is Baxter really ready to sell? Only he knows, and only time will tell.

It’s nice to see the Bayswater community talking about a community patrol, but the officials of the new patrol talk as if it’s a brand new idea. More than a decade ago, Bayswater hosted its own very successful security patrol that ran seven nights a week for several years. The patrol had two marked patrol cars and several members utilized their own cars as well. At the time, police officials cited the patrol for assisting in bringing down the climbing crime rate in the community.

The headline on the New York Times story was “Queens Busboys to Manhattan’s Big Time,” and the story chronicled the coming of age of several Rockaway men who began working at Pier 92 in Rockaway before moving on to their own restaurant empire. Two of the young men are Terrence and Daniel Tubridy, two of the sons of the Pier 92 owner and political activist Dan Tubridy, the elder. The other two Rockaway men are their friends. They recently opened The Park Avenue Tavern in Manhattan. A third brother now owns the Bungalow Bar restaurant in Rockaway, at the site that was once Pier 92.

It’s amazing what rumors can do to a community or one of its institutions. When Arverne By The Sea, the massive housing development, was first proposed many said that nobody would buy in the new community because of crime in the nearby city housing projects. They were wrong. Now, the same type of people are telling anybody who will listen that the area around the new Stop & Shop supermarket at Beach 73 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard is crimeridden and that several people have been robbed both inside and outside the market. That is not true, but the rumors are hurting the supermarket’s bottom line at a time when Rockaway needs all the economic development it can get. We have checked with local police and find that there have been no criminal complaints from the area around the store that involve the store itself. Time to stop the rumors. Seems as if metered parking in New York City is set to go up one more time, the second time in less than a year. In January, parking rates at single-meter spots and Muni-meters will increase to $1.00 an hour from the present 75 cents (25 cents for 20 minutes). So, our meters in Rockaway will presumably rise to 25 cents for 15 minutes rather than for the present 20 minutes. Be quick afoot in picking up that container of milk or daily paper. There is another kicker, however. The mayor wants an even larger raise in “commercial areas.” He does not define that term, and it usually means Manhattan and other high-density business areas such as Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn. Some say, however, that Bloomberg might declare all shopping streets in the five boroughs as commercial areas. In that case, meters in the central shopping area in Far Rockaway and on Beach 116 Street might well go up all the way to $3.00 an hour, or 50 cents for a half-hour. That would wreak havoc for our shopkeepers, who are already on the edge due to the financial meltdown.

The New York Aviators professional hockey team, which plays its home games at Aviator Sports at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, has climbed to an official rung in the National Hockey League ladder by signing a minor league agreement with the Wheeling (West Virginia) Nailers of the ECHL, one of the two minor leagues directly affiliated with the NHL. The Nailers are a farm club for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. That affiliation is roughly equivalent to the deal the Brooklyn Cyclones has with the New York Mets. Players who do well with the Aviators will be moved to the ECHL team, while Nailers players will move to Brooklyn for specific training and seasoning. Should make for better play in Brooklyn.

It may be too late for Rockaway, but a new City Council law makes it mandatory that the DOT explains how it decides where to put bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and traffic control signals. When it dropped miles of bike lanes and took away lots of traffic lanes in Rockaway, it declined to explain why it was done, except to say it was for “safety” reasons. Now, the DOT will have to establish clear guidelines and make them available online. There is so much anger over the bike lanes that the vote in the Council was nearunanimous, something that hardly ever happens. The DOT will have three months to establish the guidelines and publish them for the community to see.

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