2012-10-12 / Columnists


We were surprised last week when we were watching a Yankee game on the YES Network when who popped up in a political advertisement for State Senate candidate Eric Ulrich but 100 Precinct Community Council president Danny Ruscillo. The two were seen walking down the Rockaway boardwalk together. We know that Ruscillo is a private person and has the right to back anybody he wants, and he was not wearing a precinct shirt, but public figures who run non-profits, as Ruscillo does, should stay away from political ads.

The homicide at Arverne by the Sea on October 2 was the first major crime in the new, massive housing development. Before ABTS was approved, the conventional wisdom in Rockaway was that they could build it, but that nobody would buy because of the crime in the nearby public housing projects. Well, conventional wisdom was wrong, and ABTS has been a major success, bringing not only middle class money to Rockaway, but a new Y, supermarket, shops and a school to boot. At first blush, the murder seems to have more to do with domestic relationships than gang crime and that the location of the home had little to do with it. ABTS continues to build and consumers continue to buy, and that is a good thing for Rockaway and its future.

The school report cards that were released last year once again show how inept the Department of Education really is. What is arguably the top elementary school in Rockaway gotaCwhileanotherschool where parents have been protesting to get rid of the principal got a B. A charter school slated to be closed because of poor report card gradesinthepastgotaBandthe city still wants to close it. Four schools outside of Rockaway that were declared failing by the state got A’s and B’s. Parents on the west end largely scoffed at the report cards because they know for themselves which are the good schools and which are not far better that the DOE. Everybody agrees that the beaches that border the East Rockaway Inlet (sometimes called Reynolds Channel by oldtimers) are dangerous for swimmers. When we were young, Rockaway teens proved their mettle by swimming across the channel from Rockaway to Atlantic Beach. Those were different days. Today, even the Department of Parks admits that the waters are dangerous. Many swimmers have lost their lives in the stretch between the Atlantic Beach Bridge and Beach 25 Street over the last decade, most of them when lifeguards were not on duty. Activist Floyd Smith has been working on the problem for years and is the one who forced the Parks Department to place large, multilanguage signs in the area to warn of the strong rip current. Now, Smith believes that the beaches should be closed entirely. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that many of the summer day camps use those beaches on a daily basis because they can park their buses on Seagirt Boulevard. On any given day, hundreds of kids swim in that stretch of coastline. The problem is, we believe, that the city can close the beaches in that area, put up a fence and set up patrols, but young people are going to find a way to go swimming there.

Of the 36 schools that the DOE wants to shut down this year for educational failure, seven are small schools that the agency created when they shut down older schools at the same site. When those schools were closed down, the students remained the same but more than half of the teachers were excessed and, in some cases, the administration was changed. Now, those schools are failures and the city wants to go through the process once again. When will the DOE learn that it’s the students and their parents that make the school a failure or a success?

The City Council voted two weeks ago to name the intersection of Beach 134 Street and Beach Channel Drive in honor of Lance Corporal Michael Glover, a Rockaway resident who joined the Marine Corps after 9-11 instead of going to law school. Glover was shot by a sniper in Iraq and never came home. No date has yet been set for the memorial ceremony honoring his life and the street renaming.

If you think Rockaway has problems with the National Park Service, take a look at a recent parks decision to place 200-foot towers and electrical lines over the Delaware Water Gap National Park and over portions of the Appalachian Trail. What are they thinking of, other than making a couple of bucks?

Local realtor Robin Shapiro lives on Beach 145 Street and has now sold 11 houses on that block. She says that she has sold at least one house on every block in Belle Harbor and Neponsit, quite a feat.

The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) is hosting a community forum in Far Rockaway to get input into its new “Close to Home” program that brings juvenile delinquents from upstate facilities to “limited-secure” facilities in their own communities. Far Rockaway, obviously, is a one target of the program. The forum will be held at the Far Rockaway Cathedral, 1252 Brunswick Avenue on October 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. The agency is looking for input from parents whose children might be impacted by the program and by residents who might have ideas on how the program should be implemented in Rockaway.

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