There were a number of people standing in front of the former Wendy’s on Beach Channel Drive at Beach 112 Street last week, staring at the building and wondering what happened. Wendy’s is gone from Rockaway, closed in a heartbeat with no notice and little fanfare. We wonder what will happen to the building now. Once a Nathan’s, it has been a fast food Mecca for some time. An Applebee’s would be nice, or perhaps an International House of Pancakes, someplace to have breakfast or a quick meal. Unfortunately, if history is any measure, it will become a nail salon or a bank. We’ll have to wait and see.
The arrest of State Senator Shirley Huntley last week on charges of falsifying paperwork and conspiracy came as no surprise in the Wave newsroom. We have been working that story since May of last year and were just waiting for the investigation to be complete and for the other shoe to drop. We suggest to the attorney general that State Senator Malcolm Smith, whose transgressions are probably worse that Huntley’s, would be a proper future target.
Rockaway Beach took a double hit at the beginning of this school year. While the situation is probably not as bad as predicted by some locals who think the world as we know it has come to an end, there still should be a way for locals to have a say before institutions that impact that community are put in place. While the new special education school, the Martin de Porres school, has moved into the former home of Stella Maris High School, it is really just a traditional special education high school. Most of its students will be brought in by bus and van and they will have little interaction with the community – at least that’s what education officials say. The new unit at the St. John’s Residence for Boys is another issue. That will be a “Non-Secure Detention Program” for a dozen teens who are going through the justice system for committing criminal acts and who, the court has judged, can no longer live in their home communities. Not a good group to have around. A little more than a year ago, a Rockaway man working at a similar program run by St. John’s in Queens was brutally attacked by a resident as he drove the teen to court. The city should have at least notified the community and asked for comment prior to moving such a program onto the peninsula. With great fanfare late last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced – drumroll–the most popular baby names of the past year. We assume that in the near future he will work to ban some of the names for being dangerous to growing children. In any case, the top three girl’s names are Isabella, Sophia and Olivia. The most popular boy’s names: Jayden, Jacob and Ethan. More traditional names, such as David, Michael, and Emma were way down the list.
Don’t forget the primary elections to be held on September 13. In the west end, there are two Republicans vying for the party nod for the State Senate seat – City Councilman Eric Ulrich and attorney Juan Reyes. In the east end, the Democratic primary for the State Senate includes Shirley Huntley, the incumbent who was arrested last week; City Councilman James Sanders Jr.; and activist Jian Jones. The general election will be in November. It might surprise some that primary day is not on a traditional Tuesday. This year, Tuesday is September 11, which has become a holiday – Patriots Day – in many venues. So, the primary was moved two days to Thursday, September 13.
Not to be outdone by the Daily News series about the new food establishments along the boardwalk, the New York Times last week ran a long piece about the food establishments along the Bayfront – The Wharf, Bungalow Bar, Thai Rock and others. The piece says that the food might not be great, but the view is perfect, with a sweep that goes from the Gil Hodges Memorial Marine Parkway Bridge to John F. Kennedy Airport and the Cross Bay Bridge. It is one of the best views in the city, especially as the sun comes down on a hot summer night.
Despite the fact that Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to crow that the schools are now the best and safest in the city’s history, statistics that were released late last week show that school violence has hit an all-time high since records have been kept on events such as fights, crimes in the school and other incidents. Assaults have doubled since 2009. Assaults with a weapon have also doubled and drug possession busts have gone up 50 percent. Instances of bullying have doubled despite a much-ballyhooed plan to stop it. What is the mayor’s response? The DOE has issued a plan that would make it harder to discipline students for a major offense, installing a plan for having kids serve detention during lunch rather than being suspended. You can’t make stuff like this up.
Now that the Parks Department has the money and permission from the state to move the sand piles from the west end, where they have been for nearly a year, to where they are needed to protect the boardwalk further east, locals are starting to wonder why the sand has not been moved. The fact is, we are in another hurricane season and a small storm could damage the boardwalk and wipe away all the work that was done since Hurricane Irene.