2012-03-30 / Editorial/Opinion

A Gratuitous And Wrongheaded Look At Rockaway

The Wave does not usually respond to comments made about the peninsula in other periodicals because they are generally written by people who do not know Rockaway. Last weekend, however, Daily News columnist Denis Hamill, who does know the peninsula, delivered such a scathing diatribe against Rockaway that we felt we needed to respond. Hamill wrote: “When the thermometer hit 80 degrees last week, I checked for a Far Rockaway summer forecast. No other city beach community is as dangerous in the summer as Far Rock, where the Queens District Attorney has a special unit to prosecute local shootings. If you escape the crossfire between the Bloods and the Crips in this forgotten netherworld with no local industry except the drug trade, a neighborhood that houses 20,000 families in projects next to the sea, you might still drown in the most treacherous waters in town.” Hamill goes on to write about Floyd Smith, who has been trying for years to prove that there are more lifeguards in “the lily-white end of Rockaway at Belle Harbor” with little success, because we have addressed the story and found that it is false. Yet, Hamill bought into Smith’s fantasy and trumpeted it as if it were the gospel. Smith also complained of the NYPD observation tower at Beach 67 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, calling it a “Nazi concentration camp.” He says that it towers over the beach, but it is actually two long blocks from the oceanfront. Three years ago, Smith went after the federal park service at Riis Park, demanding more amenities and longer beach hours. He was singularly unsuccessful there as well. One has to wonder what Hamill was thinking when he wrote the words printed above. They were just plain wrong, and we invite him to come to The Wave and we’ll take him for a ride to show him all the good things that are happening in Rockaway, the place he described as a “netherworld with no local industry except for the drug trade.” Indeed!

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unfortunately, dear Editor,

unfortunately, dear Editor, although it's far easier to take potshots than dig into the real news...Hamill is right about the horrible violence in Far Rock, the B 67 Tower, and Smith is right about the disgraceful management of Riis Park over these many years. Me...I'm a big cheerleader for Rockaway, and I see an awesome destination that once was, and could/will be again...but where are the Brian O'Connell types running Far Rock's various schools; why hasn't the NYC School System developed an educational plan for the Far Rock schools like up on 125th Street with the support of Carl Icann (& others); why don't Far Rock community leaders develop and promote 'If You See Something, Say Something!' to all in 'the houses' to root out venal crime with locals on their cell phones ratting out the rats; and can I ask: WHY isn't this newspaper - as a spokesman and leader for The Rockaways - cheer-leading for economic and cultural development thru-out the Peninsula like @ the mgp site; promoting Bloomberg's Blue Waterways (ferry service) for JFK to Manhattan with one stop in The Rockaways; exploring and exposing the disgraceful mismanagement at Riis Park (one of the worst-rated parks in the entire NPS System); and maybe sponsoring b'ball and skate-boardin' events up and down the Peninsula. I know, dear Editor, far too may questions and too few answers...PJS


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