2012-07-06 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Rockaway hit a new low at the end of the Sunset in the Park fundraiser for Tribute Park on June 23, when a sneak thief made off with the money box and all the proceeds of the evening. That money was to be used for the upkeep and expenses of the park, which honors those Rockaway residents who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in September of 2001. Park officials are still not sure of the amount that was taken because lots of it was in personal checks and only a portion in cash.

Now that Republican Bob Turner has solidly lost his bid to run against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the November election, his short political career seems to be at an end. There are still those who think that he would have been better off challenging Democrat Greg Meeks for the new House seat that takes in all of Rockaway and some of the mainland, but Turner chose to tackle a bigger fish and lost.

You haven’t seen much in the pages of The Wave recently about Peninsula Hospital Center and there are two reasons for that. The first is that the appointed Bankruptcy Trustee, Lori Lapin Jones, refuses to talk with the press about anything remotely connected with the hospital. The other is that it is clear that all the meds remaining at the hospital have been sold to a Long Island medical firm and that the sale of furniture, equipment and supplies will start shortly. The land and buildings will go last – probably in late August or early September. The conventional wisdom says that the nursing home will go to Revival Home Health Care, the firm that bailed out the hospital last September. Where the rest of the property will go is only known to Jones and perhaps to Judge Elizabeth Stong, the federal justice who appointed her as trustee in the hospital’s bankruptcy case. There is a flyer going around telling of several doctors who are willing to open the hospital as a new facility, but it is clear that is not going to happen. “Secret” negotiations with St. John’s have also been ongoing, but nobody but Jones and officials at SJEH know what’s going on in that front. The ongoing argument between Community Board 14 and its support of what the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation plans for Rockaway on one side and beach advocates on the other side comes down to one simple principle: Who speaks for the beach. Parks has always run the beaches pretty much the way it wants. In fact, Operations manager Liam Kavanagh, standing alone at a boardwalk demonstration and watching a few thousand locals demonstrate for longer beach and boardwalk hours, smiled and told us that it’s his beach, not the people who were demonstrating. Community Board 14 has traditionally gone along with Parks on anything it wanted to do. Now, however, there is a new breed of activist who thinks that the beaches belong to the people. Should be an interesting summer.

The MTA has approved a plan that would give free MetroCards to all of its eligible Access-A-Ride customers in the hope that they will abandon the specialized buses and move to public transportation. An Access-A-Ride trip, the agency says, costs an average of $60 a ride. Bus and subway rides are much cheaper. The agency says that only a quarter of its riders are wheelchair bound and that the other seventy-five percent could probably get along with public transportation.

The story about the use of cell phones to take photos of Regents exams and other tests and then distribute them to a web of 90 Stuyvesant High School students once again points to one of the major reasons that cell phones are banned from school buildings. There are some who say that cell phones are such an integrated part of life that kids have a right to carry them in school, but those who argue that point should talk to some teachers, many of whom have had to face a class of game-playing, texting, inattentive students while trying to make an educational point. Take the phones away, and there is a problem with the parents and then another when the school turns back a phone that no longer seems to work.

The original plans for the Far Rockaway Park on Seagirt Boulevard contained a second phase – the renovation of the playgrounds on Beach 9 Street. That, however, will probably not happen. The $29.3 million renovation has still not been finalized and no plan has yet been drawn up, the first step in any actual work.

The Long Island Power Authority warns of a new scam that may target Rockaway residents. Customers have been contacted through the mail, telephone and on social media and told that they have built up credits that will pay their utility bills. All the customer has to do is supply their social security and bank routing numbers, and their bill will be paid. Don’t do it – it’s a scam and all you will do is turn your important numbers over to a scammer who will take your money in a heartbeat.

The bad news is that the waters around New York City are becoming more polluted and less usable with each passing year. The good news is that the water around Rockaway is the best of the worst.

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