What Rockaway Needs As New Year Arrives
The years go by so swiftly that one hardly knows where the time went. This is particularly true as one gets older. At The Wave, we begin each year with Issue one. Before we know it, we are working on Issue 52 and looking forward to a new year. We end 2005 with some trepidation, some unfinished work that needs to be done this year for the quality of life of all Rockaway residents. Some of those issues are older than those who work at The Wave – transportation, beach access, schools, traffic, economic development. With that said, here is what should be done in 2006 to improve that quality of life. With the ongoing plans to build homes on virtually every empty lot in Rockaway, it is clear to us that the peninsula needs a shot in the arm in terms of new retail and wholesale businesses to serve all of the people who are moving to Rockaway. The newly-planned stores and restaurants tied to Arverne By The Sea will be a boon, but more needs to be done in the major shopping areas such as the Central and Mott Avenue area in Far Rockaway, Beach 129 Street and the Beach 116 Street/Rockaway Beach Boulevard/Beach Channel Drive complex. City officials have often told us that better transportation would be available as soon as there were people to utilize that transportation. The time is coming. Rockaway needs more express buses, a Super-A Train to take people directly to Manhattan in under an hour and perhaps an affordable high-speed commuter ferry service (we call that a “Ferry Tale” at The Wave). People who work in Manhattan will not come to Rockaway as long as it takes them more that an hour and fifteen minutes to get to work each day. The real estate mantra that location is everything is true, and people come to Rockaway for the beach. How disappointed they must be when they read the boardwalk signs and find that they will be ticketed and possibly arrested if they are not off the beach by 9 p.m. and off the boardwalk by 10 p.m. Those are antediluvian rules that must be changed to allow residents to use the beach and boardwalk (but not the ocean) at their discretion until the early hours of the morning on a hot Rockaway evening. There is no reason for Rockaway to be treated differently from any other city beach or park. If you can drink alcohol at Central Park and prospect Park for a formal concert or event, why can’t you drink a beer on the beach on a hot summer day? We need recreation for our young. The planned YMCA associated with Arverne By The Sea will fill much of the need, but the peninsula still needs a movie theater, a bowling alley and recreational facilities on both the bay and oceanfront. When we were young, every school on the peninsula was open in the evening for recreational purposes, including the pool at Far Rockaway High School. Those evening recreational centers often offered classes for adults in computers, parenting, yoga, pottery, writing and other non-academic and interesting fields of endeavor. It should be so again. We will leave the schools for another day, because that is an entire series of editorials. Let us close with an admonition to our elected officials. If you build it, they will come, but only if the amenities fill their needs. Right now, we have a long way to go.