Record-Breaking Population Surge In ‘05
The Rockaway Peninsula in 2005 saw its most dramatic population gain in at least 25 years, according to a survey released this week by the Long Island Power Authority.
The Rockaways welcomed almost 4,700 new residents from January, 2004 to January, 2005, according to the survey. That’s just 200 people shy of the total for all of the 1990s, and it dwarfs the miniscule sum of just 198 new residents for all of the 1980s. The findings are based on U.S. Census data and utility records.
While the widespread development of housing on the peninsula seems obvious to residents and visitors alike, LIPA’s survey represents the first concrete stats that show the dramatic growth. Rockaway’s renaissance is no longer just a convenient alliteration, it’s a quantifiable phenomenon.
“I’m not surprised,” said Jonathan Gaska, Community Board 14 district manager, when he learned of the findings. “Look at all the building that’s going on. Everywhere you look, in every neighborhood east of Beach 125 Street there are new houses going up.”
LIPA also reported that the peninsula’s population has soared to a new all-time high of 115,000.
“The Rockaway Peninsula is undergoing a tremendous rebirth that is making it a highly attractive area,” said LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel in a written statement.
Rockaway Beach emerged as the most popular zip code for newcomers, with 780 new residents representing 16 percent of last year’s growth.
The Wave, sensing the surge, launched in 2005 its successful Newcomers Guide – a 140-page resource on “Everything Rockaway Has to Offer.”
Gaska, who began with CB14 in 1989, said Rockaway has emerged as the city’s preeminent place for homebuilding because “nowhere else” offers the kind of opportunity seen locally. An abundance of property that was ripe for development, combined with low interest rates and people’s pursuit of the American Dream, he said, have all contributed to the peninsula’s resurgence. He said Rockaway’s new residents will strengthen and connect communities.
“Edgemere and Arverne were No Man’s Land in the 1980s,” said Gaska, “It’s now a community again.”
More people, he said, also means more voting power, which could make Rockaway harder for the city to ignore. It could mean new problems, too. Gaska predicts that traffic congestion and a shortage of school seats will be among future challenges.
LIPA’s survey, which also examined Nassau and Suffolk counties, is one tool the authority uses to keep in step with power demands. “The fact that 90,000 new residents and 27,983 new households have been added to LIPA’s service area in the last five years underscores the need for LIPA to continue to strengthen and expand Long Island’s electrical system and supply resources, especially in eastern Long Island.”
The survey is available at www.LIPower.org or you can send a written request to: LIPA – 2005 POP Survey, Communication Dept., Suite 403, 333 Earle Ovington Ave., Uniondale, New York 11553.