A Hero Remembered
On December 23, we lost another Rockaway hero.
Those who knew him, knew him. Those who didn’t, will never know.
His braveness on the night of Superstorm Sandy, for he walked around like everything was dandy. I met Mike on the Q35 bus after the devastation, still in disbelief of what I went through. For months, I never knew that I was talking to a hero.
A man who loved life. He never said much about his battles, his strive. I learned through time what he did that night. I learned through time his sufferings, his pain. Together, Mike McDonnell and Dylan Smith, our other Rockaway hero, saved their neighbors when raging fires succumbed their houses, one by one. With a makeshift rope and a surfboard, a link between these two people forever. Dylan lost his life two months after Sandy, while surfing in Puerto Rico. Exactly seven years to the day our young local hero handed Mike the rope and pulled him to peace. Mike never gave up hope. I saw him only a few days before he passed and he said he is still fighting, it’s not over,
For Dylan Smith and Michael McDonnell, their journey on Earth came to an end. Always remember our dear friends. As we ring in the New Year of 2020, let us pray for peace on Earth, good will towards all. When someone is in need of help, please answer the call as they did.
Rest in Peace, Mike and Dylan, and all of our own family members we lost through the years. Live, laugh, love. Watch a sunrise or sunset. It’s all of our angels painting murals for us to see the beauty of living.
Keep the Q53
Dear Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato:
I am writing to voice my disapproval of the MTA proposed new QT52 bus route, which in effect, does away with the Q53 bus. This is the only bus that goes over the Cross Bay Bridge, which is the Queens side of travel. The other bus to cross the peninsula from the west is the Q35 which goes over the Marine Park Bridge into Brooklyn. The Q53 bus begins in Rockaway and ends in Woodside which again, connected many travelers to the 7 Train, Q32 bus into Manhattan or the Long Island Railroad, which is another essential mode of travel. The MTA proposal has this new route ending at the Queens Center Mall, again, cutting off vital modes of connectivity for many New Yorkers. The Q53 bus is already dangerously overcrowded with passengers (mostly school children), literally pressed up against the front windshield. Perhaps send a representative from your camp to ride the bus from the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. to get the full thrust of what a daily commute is like. I cannot possibly imagine how eliminating this service will increase ridership and offer better travel times. I guess the mode of thought is by having less buses on the road, the travel time will decrease. In a perfect world, yes, however, by having a reduced number of buses, people will not be able to get on the bus and therefore will have to get on the next bus and that will increase their travel times.
Personally, I work in Long Island City. It takes me two hours to get to work now as I take the Q53 bus at the first stop to the last stop in Woodside and then take the Q32 bus down Queens Boulevard to 33rd Street. I cannot even fathom how much more time it is going to take me to get to work.
How in the world is this going to better the Rockaway commute? I implore you to please step in and stop the elimination of the Q53 bus.
How can bus service to the Rockaways be improved?
By providing better service so that more places can be accessed with fewer buses and increasing service to beaches so that buses are less crowded. An example would be a new route from the Rockaways to the Sheepshead Bay Station in Brooklyn, which is currently an indirect three-bus trip taking about 90 minutes. Does the MTA Draft Plan for a Queens Bus Redesign propose routes like this that would cut travel time in half? No.
Instead it proposes an additional transfer to travel from the Breezy Point area to Far Rockaway by shortening the Q22 to Beach 116th Street, and eliminating additional bus stops after cutting service a few years ago despite community opposition. Remember how the MTA promised reducing service on the lightly used western portion of the route would permit them to increase service on the heavier portion of the route? Instead they will be cutting service in half from every 10 to every 20 minutes and is also proposing to curtail Sunday express bus service.
Rockaway bus riders have trips that take longer than anywhere else in the city. Quicker bus trips are needed, not a cost saving proposal to only benefit the MTA that greatly increases walking time to the bus. Instead of focusing on reducing total trip time, they are focusing only on increasing bus speeds when Queens buses are already among the fastest in the city.
Letting the MTA know your dissatisfaction is not enough. The MTA will ignore individual complaints. There must be a huge public outcry from the public, local businesses, every elected official and every affected institution. A lawsuit alleging discrimination against the disabled is also necessary to prevent elimination of more than half the Queens bus stops. A few will be helped by the plan, but for most, it will be a huge negative.
Regarding your entry in last week's column: "This Week in History." I believe the first commercial trans-Atlantic cable came ashore here in Rockaway. There were previous cables between Canada and England, but the Rockaway cable was the first commercial one. My father pointed this out to me when a big storm (I think it was Hurricane Donna) eroded the beach so much that the cable was exposed at 85th Street in front of the Parks Department building. Soldiers or Coast Guard personnel (I don't remember which) were called in to protect it.
I quote from "The Rockaways" by Emil Lucev, Sr.: "Western Union transatlantic cables came ashore in Hammels, and the old Commercial Cable Company under-ocean cables landed in Far Rockaway." I believe the terminus was the Bell Telephone building at 85th and RBB.
A trade periodical of the time, "Telephone and Telephone Age," also gives mention to this cable in its 5/16/1917 issue that: "Guardsmen are now protecting the cable stations of the Commercial Cable Company and of the Western Union Telegraph Company at Rockaway Beach, LI."
It would seem that Rockaway has more than its share of history.
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