2012-01-27 / Columnists

Broad Channel Bits

By Dan Guarino

The snow came, drifting down in the early hours that tipped Friday night into last Saturday morning. And excited children bounced up to the window ledge on bare feet to see the powdery dusting and inch or so drifts. “I’m going to build a snowman and make snow angels and play with my friends in the snow and and and and …. !!!”

“Well, there may not be quite enough snow, sweetie.”

“No! No, there is! I’m going out!”

“Um, well let’s not forget your coat, sweetie. And shoes, let’s not forget those. And …”

Most of us groaned when we saw the snow coming down, as predicted, over Broad Channel and sighed when it stopped. Then the rain came and washed most of it away.

Still, even for a few hours the children were delighted. It’s true. Snow, and the world, are far different things when you’re five than when you’re, say, 50.

Thank goodness.

Coming up to the ramp to take the Cross Bay Bridge from Rockaway back into Broad Channel last Sunday, you might have seen what looked like a small party just to your right. With balloons and winter dress coats, suits and ties a group of civic, community and political leaders assembled at the base of the bridge, just to the left of the Bungalow Bar and Thai Rock restaurants and McDonalds. Representing both sides of the bridge they came to announce that the Cross Bay toll fight has just taken a giant step forward.

As you know from The Wave, the Cross Bay Bridge toll fight was literally front page news last week. To recap, from 1998 forward, residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways with EZ Pass were granted a rebate by the MTA. Every trip toll over the bridge was instantly ‘rebated,’ thus making it free. Since 2010 we have been paying a reduced toll, now $1.19, for the first two crossings, usually on a round trip. Every trip after is ‘free.’ (The regular toll is $3.25 each way.)

Since being elected in November, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder has made eliminating the toll a prime issue. As Congressman Robert Turner explained in an earlier letter, “The Cross Bay Bridge is the only one of nine [toll] bridges operated by the MTA which is an intra-borough connection. Further, he stated, “there is no justification for residents of the Rockaways [and Broad Channel] to bear this unjust toll and I firmly oppose it.” These residents “should not be penalized for traveling within their own borough.”

On Sunday with media such as NY1 News in attendance, Assemblyman Goldfeder announced that Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2012 budget now includes a provision to reinstate the toll rebate. The Assemblyman, who worked with many other political leaders, as well as our own Channel civic leaders, advises he will continue on the road toward eliminating the toll all together once and for all.

For all the people here who have worked so hard for so long, decades even, that day couldn’t come a minute too soon.

Library doings: Winter Craft comes to the Broad Channel Library on Friday, January 27 starting at 3:30 p.m. Kids ages 5 to 10 are invited to “come make a craft to celebrate Winter,” according to the Library. Supplies, as well as admission, are free and will be given out on a first come, first served basis.

On Monday, January 30 residents are invited to meet with Congressman Robert Turner’s senior caseworker, who will be available to field questions on issues relating to federal agencies. That will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at the BC Library.

The BCAC has just completed registration for Jamaica Bay Little League. Third-graders and up have been signed up for T-Ball, Pee-Wee Jr. and Sr. and Minor and Major Divisions. Spring can’t be far behind!

The white bicycle returns. Our neighbor Dorothy wrote not long ago asking after something we’d all been wondering about. What’s the story on the white bicycle positioned on the Cross Bay median strip at the northern tip of our island?

Last week I was pleased to get this reply.

“This is to let Dorothy on the corner know what the meaning of the white painted bicycle is when you drive into the Channel. These bicycles are memorials that are set up for bicyclists who were killed or hit on the street. You can find more about this at the website www.ghostbikes.org.”

My thanks to John and Lynda Bil for writing, and giving us all a true moment of remembrance as we pass that now riderless cycle every day.

“Bringing life back to the community,” as one parishioner commented, described the revitalization of the St. Virgilius lunch room exactly right. Touring the building before the official ribbon cutting was an eye opening experience. In one month drop ceilings were put in, fixtures, plumbing and electric outlets were replaced, floors were resurfaced and painted, walls were redone and new BC-themed murals, some by local artist Matt Smilardi, were everywhere. Even the chairs were repainted and made to look brand new. And all this came about through the volunteer labors of what Ms. Lori McKeon of the project called the “Leadership Group,” an organization “for people who want to give service.”

The building has been buzzing with activity, with volunteers sometimes working till midnight. While this group came from outside of Broad Channel to offer their time and talent, people in the neighborhood donated building supplies, pizza, cookies and dollars, too. Everything was donated and offered at no cost to the parish and our community. We aim, Ms. McKeon said, to “open hearts.”

Looking around at all that had been done and the swirl of working still going on that day, she reflected we “call ourselves ‘the miracle workers.’ ”

Come and see the finished product if you get the chance, and you’ll agree that says it all.

Thank you for starting a new year of reading this column.

Got BC news, events or organization information? Please send it direct to workingstories @aol.com or drop it in the right hand mailbox of 126 Noel Road.

Thanks.

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