Looking Back at 2018


Boy, that year flew! But plenty happened. Here are some highlights from each issue of The Rockaway Times (RT) this year.

January 4: Winter proved to be a new challenge for the new ferry service as ice took over the bay. More than two dozen people had to be rescued from a Manhattan-bound ferry that got stuck on a sandbar off of Breezy Point. Bayswater brothers Nochum and Shmulie Russell warmed hearts by bringing blankets and supplies to homeless people across the city. Residents of the NYCHA Redfern Houses were dealing without heat.

January 11: Cops helped chip away ice from the front door of an Arverne senior that was stuck in her home. The RT exposed airport parking biz, Park it JFK for illegally using a piece of city-owned land on Beach 80th Street. Winter storm Grayson caused a Belle Harbor home under construction to collapse and led to severe postal service delays.

January 18: Firefighters and cops worked to rescue residents from a fire at 8800 Shore Front Parkway. One senior, Ethel Davis, died as a result of the blaze. A Far Rockaway street was renamed for the late community activist, Manny Fiallo, who died in May 2017.

January 25: A seal paid Riis Park a visit. John Edwards and the Rockaway Beach Volleyball League were honored at the Graybeards dinner/ dance. Local pols put pressure on the post office as postal problems grew.

February 1: Football star and Arverne By The Sea resident, Christian Izien, received a football scholarship to Rutgers University. Locals geared up to take the plunge for Cystic Fibrosis. De Blasio kept his promise of meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to urge them to speed up their beach protection study.

February 8: Local teen Rosalyn Lim-de Castro was gearing up to make the move to the Phillipines to train with their Olympic hockey team. Local, Christine Banker, released her first book, “We All Have a God Light.”

February 15: The RT launched its 3rd annual photo contest. A humpback whale washed up dead near Breezy Point. Senator Schumer reprogrammed $730 million to be used by the Army Corps for resiliency projects. Locals celebrated at the Poseidon’s Prom fundraiser.

February 22: The New York Court of Appeals ruled that LIPA and National Grid were not immune from a lawsuit charging them for failing to turn off the power to the peninsula prior to Hurricane Sandy, allowing the lawsuit to move forward. Local resident La-Shonda Rice penned a children’s book. New AOH Division, Division 4, formed in honor of firefighter Kevin Dowdell.

March 1: Locals were getting ready for Rockaway’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Longtime PS/MS 114 teacher, Mrs. Joan Diehl, and the Women’s Industrial Service League, Inc., were featured.

March 8: The National Park Service signed a letter of intent with the folks from Riis Park Beach Bazaar to take over the long underutilized Bathhouse. The RT told the story of how Sandy united a family and a CT bagpipe band that now marches in Rockaway’s parade. P.S./M.S. 42 and M.S. 53 won their fight to stay open. Permits are filed to transform the Far Rockaway Shopping Center into a spot for new housing, retail space and more.

March 15: Rachel Sito developed the Everything Rockaway app. Local students participated in a national school walkout against gun violence in wake of the Parkland, Fl. shooting. Former New York Dolls rocker, Steve Conte, penned a song about Rockaway, “Gimme, Gimme Rockaway.” An armed robber targeted Carvel, getting away with $400.

March 22: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) agreed to fast track its Rockaway Reformulation Project to bring protection to the beach and the bay, making way for construction to begin in 2019 instead of 2020. The MTA announced that A train service would be disrupted for the summer due to a flood mitigation project.

March 29: The old theater on Beach 116th Street was nearing a sale. Williams-Transco released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for its newly proposed natural gas pipeline project.

April 5: The Knights of Columbus celebrated its 90th anniversary. The community mourned after local toddler, Bella Edwards, was killed.

April 12: The Addabbo Health Center broke ground on its new expansion project. De Blasio came to town to tour the NYCHA Ocean Bay Apartments.

April 19: The RT won five New York Press Association awards. The RT profiled Jay Wheeler, a wounded veteran that trains at CROM. The staff of the Mobil gas station returned $1,000 in cash to a customer that dropped it.

April 26: The Parks Department closed the Beach 91st Street beach access point as severe erosion created dangerous beach conditions. The Taste of Rockaway Beach was back to town, featuring 24 businesses. Healy’s Pub celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Cynthia Nixon came to town to talk climate change during her gubernatorial campaign.

May 3: NYC Ferry celebrated its first anniversary. Local football star Folorunso Fatukasi was drafted by the NY Jets. The NYC Department of City Planning presented plans for the future of the Peninsula Hospital site, including 17 buildings with 2,200 residential units. Activists let their voices be heard at a public hearing on the proposed Williams Pipeline.

May 10: NYC Ferry announced that bigger boats were on the way. House on the Rock Church held a fundraising event for its Believe in Rockaway Church and Community Center. Local rapper Bobby J dropped a Rockaway summer jam. The community remembered soldier and surfer, John P. McGonigal, Jr., who died in Vietnam 50 years before.

May 17: The community mourned the death of basketball star Clare Droesch. Locals geared up for the opening of the beach concessions, which launched plastic-free.

May 25: As Memorial Day weekend approached, news dropped that the beach would be closed from Beach 91st to Beach 102nd Street due to erosion.

May 31: Locals crashed the official beach opening ceremony with a mock funeral for the beach. The 6th Annual Rockaway Beach/Breezy Point Irish Festival was being held that weekend. The High Tide, a new boutique hotel, took over the old Playland motel and opened that weekend. The community gave a big warm welcome to Happy Jack’s, the new restaurant from those who brought Dalton’s.

June 7: Residents went to City Hall to protest against beach closures and ask for protection. RT recognized the 25th anniversary of the Golden Venture running aground in Fort Tilden. The Green Dunes II, a 100 percent affordable housing project, broke ground on Beach 44th Street.

June 14: Artist Geoff Rawling revealed that he recreated the beloved Whalemina statue as a mobile float, which would be used in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade that weekend. The new Community Boathouse and Kayak Launch on Beach 88th was set to launch. Rockaway historian, Emil Lucev, died at age 84.

June 21: The RT celebrated its 4th anniversary. Locals staged a paddle out protest against beach closures. Rockstock and Barrels was set to take place that weekend. MoMa revealed Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden was coming to Fort Tilden for the summer.

June 28: Just in time for July 4, the Riis Bathhouse finally re-opened by the owners of the Beach Bazaar, Jamesons celebrated its 20th anniversary, and Rockaway Beach Barbecue finally made its debut. The Parks Department, locals and the Army Corps of Engineers testified at a City Council hearing on the beach closure issue.

July 5: Hope for the Warriors were gearing up to come to Rockaway the following week. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection announced a $400 million plan to further improve the ecological health of Jamaica Bay.

July 12: The Rock! Away! Music Fest took over that weekend with more than 60 bands playing across the peninsula. Parks re-opened Beach 96th-98th, but with limitations that frustrated beachgoers.

July 19: We got Limed. Bike sharing programs Lime and Pace launched with bikes dotting the peninsula. The RT profiled Owen Loof, the colorful “Best Dressed Man in Rockaway.” Residents called for safety measures after an Arverne woman was killed by a car.

July 26: The weekend was filled with the Two Bridges Music Fest, Jazz Fest and a Women’s Surf Film Fest, plus the Rockaway Times Sandcastle Contest. The fire trucks moved out of the Beach 116th Firehouse due to temporary asbestos abatement, but plans for the construction of a new firehouse at the HSBC bank site moved forward.

August 2: The Rockaway Times Sandcastle Contest was the biggest yet with more than 40 participants. The Rock Out For Autism fundraiser concert was also a huge hit.

August 9: One lucky pooch was saved by the right people in the right place at the right time after jumping into Jamaica Bay. St. John’s Hospital received more than $1M to upgrade its maternity ward.   The new Rockaway Dog House, owned by Kenny Good, proved to be a big hit.

August 16: Don Riepe’s swan photo earned him first place in the photo contest.

August 23: The old theater on Beach 116th was finally sold for a whopping $6.125M to Mark Caller, the developer of the soon-to-come One Sixteen condos across the street. O’Sake Ramen House opened up on Restaurant Row. Caribbean Carnival heated up Far Rock.

August 30: The Ultimate RockaWarrior, Michael Hornung, was training for his first NYC Marathon to raise funds for the Parkinson’s Foundation.

September 6: Labor Day came and went, but September was chock full of things to do. The community was gearing up to mark the 17th Anniversary of 9/11.

USACE finally released an updated version of its study for coastal protection.

Tom Sullivan and Slawomir Platta were going head to head in the Republican primary for state senate.

September 13: A highway sign with climate messages appeared on the boardwalk as part of the Climate Signals exhibit.

September 20: The community mourned after CVSR student, Lamine Sarr, 17, died in a drowning incident on the beach. A dead deer washed up in Rockaway Beach while a live one was spotted in Roxbury. Far Rockaway High School was gearing up for a big reunion on the beach.

September 27: Poseidon’s Parade rolled through town to end the summer.

October 4: Ninety-six hatchlings of the world’s most endangered sea turtle, Kemp’s ridley, hatched in Breezy Point. Construction on Rockaway Beach Boulevard caused mass disruptions for local business owners. Christ Presbyterian Church by the Sea put out a call for help as it faced closure due to financial issues.

October 11: The community mourned after Miss Colombia was found dead on a beach in Riis Park. USACE came to town to hold public hearings on its latest study. Residents went to City Hall once again to ask for a temporary beach protection plan for next summer.

October 18: The Harbor Light finally got approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals. Rev Run stopped by the Rock to speak to kids about healthy eating. The very first Rockaway Film Fest made its debut. Surfside Buildings residents became irritated over the lack of necessary work and appealed to local pols for help.

October 25: Rockaway got ready to celebrate Halloween and mark the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

November 1: A nor’easter led to severe flooding around the peninsula and Broad Channel. In the upcoming election, locals had to pick between Senator Joe Addabbo and newcomer Tom Sullivan. After a hate-filled shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, many gathered together at West End Temple to fight against hate.

November 8: WWII Code Breaker Ruth Mirsky shared her story for Veterans Day. Incumbents proved strong in the latest election with Senator Addabbo and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato holding on to their seats. A fire on Beach 95th Street killed 47-year-old Dawn Greig.

November 15: The Surf’s Up bus shelter mural on Beach 107th was covered up due to necessary repairs. FDNY Boxing, the Graybeards, Rockaway WISH and local contractor Eric Jahrnes teamed up to create a new bathroom for a disabled Vietnam Veteran. Rockaway marked the 17th anniversary of Flight 587.

November 22: With temps in the 20s, Thanksgiving made for some cold turkey! The Best Dressed Man in Rockaway held a successful event for Autism Awareness. The Tides development celebrated the opening of Vino by the Sea, with more stores to come in the future. The Far Rockaway Library project broke ground. Belle Harbor Steakhouse celebrated its 14th anniversary.

November 29: The Little North Pole was gearing up to make its TV debut on “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” Holiday shopping markets exploded for the season.

CB14s Economic Development Committee was left disappointed by the lack of progress at the old courthouse.

December 6: Queens nonprofit Alphapointe brought hope to blind locals by providing them with jobs. Joe Mure’s Little North Pole won “The Great Christmas Light Fight.”

December 13: Beach 129th became a target for burglars that broke into several businesses and made off with loot. NYPD took down a pair of package thieves. A house being lifted in Robxury partially collapsed.

December 20: In a true Christmas miracle, local Dr. Peter Galvin discovered that he has seven siblings after taking an AncestryDNA test. The Knights of Columbus aimed to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas.’ Concessions agent Betsy De Los Santos kept ferry customers ‘good as they go.’

Looking forward: 2019 could be a big year. The Harbor Light will (hopefully) finally open. The new medical center on Beach 105th should be opening. Developments such as One Sixteen should be wrapping up. USACE promises to start construction by the end of the 2019.

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