2004-05-14 / Community

Parks Seeks Boardwalk SCUBA Shop

By Howard Schwach

Parks Seeks Boardwalk SCUBA Shop

Almost Paradise on Beach 9 Street trained many divers.Almost Paradise on Beach 9 Street trained many divers.

By Howard Schwach

Local Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Aparatus) divers thought that their sport had passed from Rockaway with the closing of Almost Paradise, a dive shop and restaurant on Beach 9 Street in Far Rockaway.

Now, however, they may see a new chance to pursue their sport in Rockaway.

The New York City Parks Department has issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) for a concessionaire to operate a dive school and restaurant on the boardwalk at Beach 17 Street.

Borough President Helen Marshall and other local politicians have been working to keep the dive school portion of Almost Paradise since October, when a Nassau County development group purchased the land from the school’s landlord for luxury condominiums.

Jay Valesquez, who ran Almost Paradise had hoped that his Beach 9 Street site would be retained for the school, but the Parks Department RFP seems to end that hope. Whether Valezquez will bid for the new site on Beach 17 Street is unclear.

The Beach 9 Street site already has underwater "classrooms" made of rebar that were used by NYPD, FDNY and State Police officers learning to dive.

According to the RFP, which mandates that proposals be back by May 26, the concessionaire must provide food, refreshments, an eating area, SCUBA and snorkeling equipment and should have the financial resources to make the needed site renovations.

The city is offering an eight-year lease to the developer with the winning proposal.

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