At A Time Of Renewal, Hopes For 2005
The holiday season is a time for renewal and hope. This has been a good year for Rockaway. Crime is down throughout the peninsula despite the fact that there are still too many young people with guns and a grudge against society on the street, particularly in our housing complexes. The Arverne By The Sea Project, the seminal revitalization project in Rockaway, has proven to be a big success and its first tenants have moved into their new homes. A sea change in the organization of Rockaway’s schools has begun, promising better things to come and a return of our middle school students to Rockaway schools after years of a parental decision to send those kids to Brooklyn schools. To use a sports metaphor, 2004 has “set the table” for what is hopefully to come. We look to 2005 to continue and strengthen the peninsula’s revitalization. There are a number of areas where work is necessary for the housing revitalization now taking place to take hold and make a real difference in the peninsula’s quality of life. First, of course, is transportation. The popular saying, “If you build it they will come,” is true to a certain extent. In Rockaway, that often translates to “If they can get to the jobs in Manhattan, they will come.” Something needs to be done to increase the service and cut the time from Rockaway to Manhattan. Logically, with the demise of ferry service throughout the region, that means express buses and the A Train. The MTA has always said that they would improve the service as soon as the ridership increases to the point where change is necessary. That time is coming and it is incumbent upon the agency (which is beset with other, deeper problems right now) to begin planning and implementing increased bus and subway service to the peninsula. Unfortunately, the rumors are that express bus service will be cut severely, even entirely, upon the planned MTA takeover of the private bus services early this coming year. That does not bode well for Rockaway and our city fathers should realize that and dispel those rumors. The other area that needs massive change is economic development. People want to live where there are stores for the necessities of life and amenities to fill their leisure time. The coming YMCA at Beach 73 Street and the new stores attached to Arverne By The Sea will certainly help. We need more things, however, such as a movie theater or a bowling center. We need new supermarkets and new specialty markets. We need new restaurants (though there are some good ones on the peninsula and in Broad Channel) and we need clothing stores. All in all, we can look back at 2004 as a year of positive change. We can only hope that 2005 will accelerate that change and keep it going for the future.