Chamber Gets Green
Light For Memorial Park
The Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, through its 501c3 corporation, The Rockaway Partnership, is pleased to announce that the environmental agencies have given the go ahead to begin construction on the new park. This new waterfront park site is located at Beach Channel Drive and Beach 116 Street adjacent to Jamaica Bay. Obtaining environmental approvals is a lengthy and complicated process. "The previous unused vacant parcel presented some unusual challenges in obtaining the necessary permits from the various agencies having waterfront jurisdiction" explained Dan Mundy, the environmental consultant for this project. "Permits were required from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Department of State, New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program and the Department of Army, Corps of Engineers", said Mundy. "To prevent further erosion on the property, an environmentally friendly sloping natural stone revetment will be constructed along the waters edge leaving a small beach on the southerly side."
The original New York State funding for this new waterfront park came through Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer’s office in the form of an Empire State Development grant in the amount of $200,000. Additional New York City funding in the amount of $100,000 was obtained former City Council Member Al Stabile and, after the budget cuts of 2002, this funding was saved by City Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. The Rockaway Partnership (the 501c3 corporation of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce) recently applied for and received an additional $36,000 in U.S. Forestry Service Living Memorials grant funding. Additional funding has been received from donations made by Rockaway residents and from many others around the United States.
After the tragic events of September 11, Community Board 14 and the Rockaway Chamber formed several committees to determine the design and location of a tribute to those Rockaway lost in the attacks. These community-based committees determined that an appropriate site for such a tribute would be in the new proposed park because of its central location and extraordinarily beautiful and unique setting. Community Board Manager, Jonathan Gaska, was instrumental in putting together committees representative of the entire Peninsula. "We felt it was important to include all of Rockaway in this very important project," said Gaska. "The entire Peninsula was deeply affected by 9/11 and the Community Board will continue to do everything it can to facilitate this important and meaningful park construction."
Liz Sulik, Executive Director of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, is impressed with what has now become a very large and working collaboration of Federal, State, City and local agencies, organizations and residents. "Every agency has really come together to insure that this park project moves forward expeditiously. It is a lengthy process to say the least, but now that the environmental approvals have been secured, we expect visible progress soon", says Sulik. Chamber President, John Lepore, is eager to have the site developed into a beautiful park. "Having a beautiful park on that site will enhance the entire commercial area," commented Lepore. "This now-vacant land will be attractive from Beach Channel Drive and from the water. We are also very gratified that the community chose the site for its 9/11 tribute."
Now that the permit process is complete and the design process is progressing, the official groundbreaking ceremony is being planned for Tuesday, September 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the park site. Anyone interested in participating in the park process is always most welcome. If you are interested and able to give of your time, energy or talents, please contact the office of the Chamber.