2012-02-24 / Columnists


For what seems to be the tenth year in a row, the city has reported that Engine 328, stationed in the Big House in Far Rockaway, along with several other fire units, is on the chopping block due to the mayor’s budget. In past years, however, the City Council found the money to restore the vital firehouses at the last minute, and there is no reason to believe that they won’t do it again.

The feds have approved a natural gas pipeline, which will run from Sandy Hook in New Jersey, under the Atlantic Ocean and Riis Park and then under Jamaica Bay to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, where there will be a large transfer station. The feds will reap lots of money for renting both the ground under Riis Park and a hanger at Fort Tilden. What will Rockaway get out of the deal? Probably nothing, although we have been told that the natural gas pressure in Rockaway is so low due to new dwellings that it could get dangerous. Some locals are angry that Rockaway residents had no say in the project and it is clear that National Grid made the deal with the National Park Service so that it did not have to deal with the city. Experts say there is no danger of the pipeline exploding and wiping out both Riis Park and Fort Tilden, but we have heard that song before. For ten years, we have heard some transit advocates call for the rebirth of the White Pot Junction LIRR Line, sometimes called the Rockaway Beach Line. We always believed that there was no chance that the line could be revived – until the casino at Aqueduct Racetrack became a reality and the site was proposed for the largest convention center in the nation. Now, the possibility of the revival of the line does not seem so farfetched. The casino and convention center will need to move people quickly between the site, Manhattan and the major airports in Queens. Revitalizing the White Pot Junction would do all of those things.

A recent Quinnipiac Poll shows that most New Yorkers like the way the New York City Police Department operates. Seventy-seven percent think that the NYPD has been effective in fighting terrorism, as opposed to only 16 percent who say the department has not been effective. Sixty percent think that the NYPD has been “appropriate” in its treatment of the Muslim community in the city. Sixty-two percent approve of the way PC Ray Kelly has handled his job. The poll asked 1,222 New York City voters for their opinions.

It looks more likely each passing day that the 9th Congressional District, now represented by Bob Turner, will survive the cut when the new lines are drawn in the next few weeks. There was a time when all the experts expected the seat to be extinguished during the reapportionment process after the resignation of Congressman Anthony Weiner. Now, however, the Democrats think that Turner can be beat by any reasonable Democratic candidate, so the plan is to dissolve the district of an upstate Democrat who is retiring after this term. Whether the Dems are right about Turner’s weakness remains to be seen in the November election.

A State Senator from Queens is pushing for a bill that would take oversight for markets, bodegas and supermarkets away from the state and give it to the city’s Department of Health. In fact, he would like to see the markets get grades similar to those now given to restaurants. Some think it would be a good idea and improve the food safety in markets, while others think that it is just another way for the city to pry more money in the guise of fines from the city’s business community. Reacting to Senator Tony Avilla’s proposal, John Catsimatides, the owner of the Gristede’s Supermarkets said, “I’m opposed to everything the city does for revenue generation. The city guys are looking to generate more fees than the state guys.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg blew off the importance of a report that showed that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had runaway cost overruns and was severely mismanaged over the past several years. The mayor thought there was nothing wrong with that. “That’s just part of the way the world works,” the mayor said in response to a reporter’s question. “I’m not sure there is anything wrong with it.” The mayor added that there are always cost overruns on civic projects.

The Thai Rock restaurant on Beach 92 Street and Beach Channel Drive will host this year’s kickoff dinner for the annual “Relay for Life” that will be held once again at Riis Park. The kickoff date at the restaurant is March 6 and the party will begin at 7 p.m. The Relay will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24.

Infrastructure has hit the headlines, what with contentious debate over the reopening of the long-unused White Pot Junction Line now that Aqueduct is under massive development. The other big story is that of a natural gas pipeline that National Grid snuck in under the radar by bringing it through Gateway rather than through the city. Both of our Congressmen, Greg Meeks and Bob Turner, were co-sponsors of the bill that would bring the volatile gas line in from the Atlantic Ocean, under Riis Park and Fort Tilden, and then under Jamaica Bay to Floyd Bennett Field.

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