2002-01-05 / Front Page

‘Despite All, Good Year For Rockaway’

By Howard Schwach

'Despite All, Good Year For Rockaway'
By Howard Schwach

Congressman Anthony Weiner tries to look at the positive side of things. He knows of all of the heartache and grief that was brought to Rockaway this year by both the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that took the lives of so many Rockaway residents and by the crash of Flight 587 in Belle Harbor just two months later.

"Despite everything," Weiner recently told The Wave, "It was a good year for Rockaway in terms of all of the federal money coming into the community in the coming years."

Weiner points primarily to two major projects – the revitalization of Riis Park and a federal study of beach erosion problems – as the major focus of the funding.

The major funding bills that have been passed include $2.4 million for a "Rockaway Beach Replenishment Study," $4.1 Million for "Jacob Riis Park Bathhouse Renovation," $200 thousand for a "Jacob Riis Park Feasibility Study for an Indoor Natatorium (swimming Pool)," $200 thousand for "Jamaica Bay Station, Breezy Point Ferry Renovations," and $400 thousand for "Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, Health and Education Services."

The latter project was funded by Representative Gregory Meeks, the others by Weiner.

"Neither the Riis Park situation nor the beach erosion money is a complete victory," says Weiner. "The $200 thousand to study the pool is, in effect, a compromise. The park service wanted to use the majority of the $4.1 million for infrastructure; we wanted it for the pool. They see the bathhouse as a sort of â018welcome center,' while we see it as a recreation center. We think that the National Park Service (NPS) can do both, that they can walk and chew gum at the same time, but they don't seem to believe that."

"All we had before was a pen on paper idea of what we wanted at the bathhouse, now we'll have a real design to sell," the Representative added. "Before this, it was all or nothing and we did not want to do that again. There might be some who will disagree with us, but compromise was necessary."

As for the beach erosion plan, Weiner says, "Since 1986, we have literally poured $44 million worth of sand onto Rockaway beaches. You can now visit that sand at Breezy Point."

"We have to start thinking outside that box," he adds. "The $3 million we've allocated will study groins and jetties to see what we can do to end that cycle. For the first time, we are going to study the possibilities from the Atlantic Beach Bridge to Breezy Point. We are particularly going to look at that area where the three young girls died tragically last summer."

The study will take about three years to complete, according to federal sources. The plan will be submitted at the end of 2003 or the beginning of 2004.

Weiner also points to the millions coming to Rockaway as part of the Magnet Grant that MS 180 and PS 225 will share with a number of mainland schools.

He also sees one major setback this year.

"We got more money to improve the piers at Riis Landing," he says, but the city pulled back the money for a ferry subsidy and that is a real setback for Rockaway."

"I spoke to Mike Bloomberg about it recently," he added. "Bloomberg is in favor of improved ferry service, but he has little wiggle room in the budget to do anything about it in the near future."

The Addabbo Health Center project funded by Representative Meeks centers around the renovation of 6200 Beach Channel Drive as a new home for the health center as well as a school for aviation and health-related careers.

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