Feds Allocate Money To Far Rock
By John C. McLoughlin
Even as officials from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development joined with community leaders last week to announce federal monies targeted to revitalize Far Rockaway, some residents expressed skepticism for what they called "just another study."
Congressman Gregory Meeks, who worked with HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo in obtaining these funds, said this is the first step to "make this peninsula what it can and should be."
The Economic Development Technical Assistance Grant, which amounts to $900,000, will be allocated to the Columbia University Urban Technical Assistance Program (UTAP) and the New York City Housing Authority for the Arverne-Edgemere projects.
The Columbia University program, which will receive $600,000, will be for developing a blueprint for downtown commercial revitalization and land use, as well as other initiatives to spark retail and private investment.
Curtis Archer of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corp. (RDRC) said this money will lead to a "comprehensive plan for the peninsula." RDRC will be working with Columbia University, providing suggestions and locations to target for revitalization.
The New York City Housing Authority was also on-hand at the announcement to accept their $300,000 grant. This money, coupled with the HOPE VI grant of $163 million, is slated for residential and commercial improvements to the Arverne-Edgemere area.
Although the announcement was good news for the Rockaway community, some attendees believed it was more of a good show. "Everyone gets together congratulating each other, patting each other on the back, but what really changes," one resident told The Wave. "All we need in Rockaway is another study. Let's start getting real money to bring some real change to the area."
Meeks does believe this grant puts the peninsula on a course for real change. Acknowledging that "Rockaway has often been forgotten," Meeks said that residents "won't recognize the area in five years."