2012-12-21 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Alternate side parking rules in Community Board 14 (Rockaway and Broad Channel) were reinstated this week by the city. The parking restrictions had been suspended indefinitely in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Rules for parking meters also remain in effect. Activists are working to get the MTA and the city to back off on reinstating tolls for both the Cross Bay Bridge and Marine Parkway Bridge for the duration of the peninsula’s recovery process.

Channel Drive Service Station at Beach 59 Street and Beach Channel Drive, one of the few stations on the peninsula that is pumping gas, reopened quickly after the storm and within a week was up making repairs and pumping the precious fuel. A main focus now, owners say, is fixing the flat tires that have become an epidemic on the peninsula due to all the discarded construction material that has been shoved to the curb.

Insiders are speculating that former Congressman Anthony Wiener, who left his political post under a cloud after sexting inappropriate photos of himself to several women, will soon make a political comeback and may even run for mayor in next year’s election. The Daily News said recently that “Weiner’s transgressions don’t necessarily bar him from joining the colorful cast of characters [already running for mayor].” Already in the ring are Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and John Liu. The Republican side also has several candidates interested in the race, but so far, nobody has officially declared.

Rockaway needed an uplifting event and the Christmas Tree Lighting last week at Beach 95 Street provided a definite lift for both the adults and the kids who attended. The tree was donated by a nursery and volunteers from New York Cares decorated the tree and provided favors. Santa Claus showed up in a NYPD patrol SUV and talked to all the kids. All in all, it was the first happy event to strike Rockaway since the storm.

Department of Education officials must have a red face this week after telling parents at PS 114 that they had cleaned the building and that everything was safe for the students. Then, parents funded their own investigation and quickly found both mold and unsafe water fountains in the building. It’s getting harder and harder to trust DOE experts on any issue, and that includes both safety and academics. We hope that the opening of the schools that remain closed will be more transparent for parents. One of those schools that still needs to reopen is the Scholars’ Academy on Beach 104 Street and school parents are already gearing up for a battle with the DOE if they believe the school is not ready to reopen. It is scheduled, as of now, for “after the holidays, on January 2.”

The Graybeards have become the premier fundraising conduit in the wake of Sandy. The organization was even featured on the 12/12/12 fundraising concert at Madison Square Garden. Were some a little inebriated or just having a good time? It was only a matter of time before Bankruptcy Trustee Lori Lapin Jones turned from selling the property to looking for answers to the burning questions of the day for many locals, such as where the money went and who was responsible for running the vital community resource into the ground. There were a lot of villains of the piece, and Jones is starting to take a closer look at players such as former CEO Bob Levine, who many in Rockaway believe was the man who virtually destroyed the hospital. Others subpoenaed by Jones are Todd Miller and his bosses at MediSys and Doctor Famulosi, who seems to be the behind-thescenes manipulator of events once Revival took over when MediSys picked up its marbles and went home.

It’s good to see that local attorney Joe Mure has decided to hold his highlypopular “Little North Pole” at his Neponsit home this holiday season. Mure’s basement and property was severely impacted by Sandy, but he decided that the peninsula needed the event’s distraction. Even though the event will be “toned down” a bit from former years, it is still an event that many locals look forward to each year and this year it is needed more than ever.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, who will no longer represent Rockaway beginning next month, led a delegation of state bigwigs to Rockaway last week, viewing the destruction on the peninsula and holding a press conference on Beach 95 Street. The Senate leaders, including Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos promised that they would provide the funds necessary for Rockaway to rebuild.

In last week’s paper we wrote that storm debris collection was extended to December 21, when, in fact, it has been extended to December 31.

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