2012-08-24 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” was filming in Edgemere last week and the shoot brought large crowds to the boardwalk at Beach 31 Street. What they saw was hundreds of extras, dressed to the nines in 1920s garb waiting to play their small part. It’s interesting that, even though the show is set in Atlantic City, it is shot in Rockaway. That’s because present day Atlantic City looks so different from its past, they shoot in Rockaway, which still looks like 1920s Atlantic City.

Right after Hurricane Irene a year ago next week, hundreds of Rockaway residents filed claims with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for storm damages that were caused by city malfeasance. The DEP’s rules require that the claims be processed in a year and three months, or the city has no obligation to pay and residents have to file an expensive lawsuit to recover for damages. With three months to go, the city seems uninterested in settling any of the claims and Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder has become involved. You have to believe that the city is purposefully sitting on the claims, hoping that residents will not go to court to file lawsuits. What is a “transient hotel”? Nobody seems to know. One city agency says that it will be used for flight crews on layovers from JFK Airport. Another seems to think that it will be used by men transitioning from prison to the real world. There is a big difference in the two, and the Rockaway community wants answers before the Department of Buildings allows construction to begin. The planned construction came as a surprise even to Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska because the city has an “as of right” right to build the facility. That does not, however, make it right to do so if the building will negatively impact the community around it. Seems to us that we have been through this before, and the community always seems to lose to the interests of the mayor and his city. We continue to track the large amounts of money moving from the bankruptcy trustee in the Peninsula Hospital case to a group of Long Island attorneys. Lori Lapin Jones, the appointed trustee, is an attorney in her own right with her own firm. Yet, she has hired other firms to act as advisors and as her counsel. As required by law, she hired a health care ombudsman even though there are no longer any patients in the hospital and have not been for months. She even hired a counsel to the health care ombudsman. Since April, those law firms and individuals have taken nearly $1 million from the hospital. Now that an agreement between Jones and nursing home owner Michael Melnicke has been proposed, more money should soon be moving to Long Island. By the way, those of you who have been reading The Wave for years will remember that Melnicke was once one of the most notorious slumlords in Rockaway. What will he do with the once-vital facility? Your guess is as good as ours, because, despite calls to his facilities, he has not returned our calls.

In the August 10 issue of The Wave, we ran a story on SABRINA’s House, and Sabrina was in last week to ask us to tell the world about those who help her in her mission. She mentioned the Sean Elijah Bell Center and Bell’s parents. Among the stores and businesses that help are the I-Hop on Hillside Avenue, Best Buy in the Bay Harbor Mall, Dress Barn in Fresh Meadows and McDonalds on Linden Boulevard in Queens.

It seems clear from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order on adult homes that limits the number of psychologically impaired residents in the homes to 25 percent that he is trying an end-run around the Second Circuit Court’s dismissal on technical grounds of a lawsuit that addressed the issue. Judge Nicholas Garaufis has ruled that the adult homes, a dozen of which are in Rockaway, violated the Constitutional rights of residents and that they had to be moved into apartments and homes within the community. That is the decision that was thrown out by the court, but Cuomo has now turned that belief into law with his new rules. Local sources who work with the nursing homes tell us that upwards of 75 or 80 percent of those in the Rockaway facilities fall into the category of psychologically and a large percentage of them will now be moved out of the homes and into the community.

Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith reportedly had breakfast with two of the Republican County Chairmen last week – Jay Savino of the Bronx and Dan Isaacs of Manhattan. Smith is seeking the Republican nod for Mayor in the 2013 election. They reportedly like Smith’s stand in favor of stop and frisk and his pro-police comments. He has really changed his tone since his Trilateral Committee excoriated the police after the Sean Bell incident.

A group of old-time Rockaway residents will host a unique affair at the Bungalow Bar restaurant on Beach 92 Street on September 1. Billed as “The Rockaway Beach Public School Reunion,” the event, which will begin at 6 p.m., is for graduates of any Rockaway public school between 1980 and 1990. The event will honor such past educators as Rhia Warren, Laurie Shapiro, Janet Rodman, Robert Spata and Frank Davis. Tickets are available at osazu@yahoo.com.

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