Arverne By The Sea Could Make The Difference
Vince Castellano, long-time Community Board 14 member and co-chair of its urban renewal committee called the recent vote to approve the Arverne By The Sea project "the most important vote they (the members) will ever make." He might just be right, and it might be one of the most important decisions made in terms of Rockaway’s revitalization efforts. As with most important decisions, this one drew fire from local activists and organizations, some with an agenda of their own. Kevin Callaghan, for example lost his seat on the board over his objections to the late, unlamented "Oceanview" development plan. Callaghan says that the development is too dense and that Rockaway’s infrastructure cannot handle the thousands of new residents that would flock to the development. We have heard that song before. In fact, we have been hearing it ever since the thousands of summer bungalows were torn down 35 years ago to make room for the renewal project. We do not agree, however. The present plan calls for approximately half of the housing units that Oceanview called for. The plan includes stores, a large park, sports fields, a school, a community center (reportedly to be run by the YMCA) as well as homes, apartments and condominiums. We have waited a long time for a coherent plan to address Arverne, and this seems to us to be a plan that can work. Is it perfect? What ever is? Will it help to revitalize Rockaway? If the homes, condos and apartments sell at the rate indicated, that will draw stores and other commercial interests to Rockaway. With middle class dollars, they will come. Better roads and transportation are sure to follow. It could spur a Rockaway renaissance. If it fails, then Rockaway may well fail as well, despite the recent spate of home construction and the drastic jump in house prices on the peninsula. This could indeed be the most important decision in Rockaway history. We hope and trust that it was the right one.