2007-03-23 / Front Page

Pop! Number of New Residents Surges

By Brian Magoolaghan

By Brian Magoolaghan

Rockaway's population grew by more than 5,500 people in 2005 - a number that surpasses the impressive growth from the year before and beats the total increase seen during all of the 1980s and 1990s combined.

The peninsula's population soared to an estimate of nearly 120,500 people by 2006, which is an increase of 5,505 people between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2006, according to the most recent annual population survey released by the Long Island Power Authority. The utility measures population growth as a way of predicting future energy demands.

"Since the 2000 Census, the Rockaway Peninsula has continued to gain population at an unprecedented pace by adding 16,375 residents, which is three times the growth the Rockaway Peninsula experienced during the previous decade," the utility said in a release announcing the 2006 survey.

Last year, LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel said Rockaway was undergoing "a tremendous rebirth that is making it a highly attractive area." This year's results suggest the trend is gaining momentum and has others predicting even bigger numbers in the years to come.

"Every piece of property has a house on it now," said Alan Camhi, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Rockaways, who predicted this year could bring as many as 10,000 new residents to the peninsula. And while the peninsula is experiencing growing pains due to all of the construction projects and roadwork that's happening at one time, Camhi says the population surge and development boom is going to translate into better places to shop and improved service from the city. "It's really going to make a difference here," he told The Wave.

The survey, which contains separate population data for eight different communities in Rockaway, shows that since 1990, Edgemere is where most new residents are taking up residence. That community's population increased by more than 3,500 people last year and more than 7,600 since 2000, according to LIPA.

The next hottest nabe is Rockaway Beach, which gained nearly 875 residents in 2005 and more than 3,650 since 2000. Arverne comes next with 635 people added in 2005 and about 2,600 since 2000.

Rockaway Point, Neponsit, Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park have each seen slight population increases of about 5 to 100 people.

The number of year-round households in Rockaway has also increased significantly from just over 35,000 in 1990 to a little over 36,000 in 2000 to more than 42,000 now. The size of the average household held steady at 2.72 people; the average for Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island are 2.96 per household.

In an effort to welcome Rockaway's new residents, Wave Publishing Company, which publishes this newspaper, created a Newcomer's Guide that's crammed with useful information about the community. Copies of the free guide were distributed in The Wave last spring and are now available at our office and at select businesses throughout the peninsula.

The LIPA survey is based on U.S. Census data and utility records of active residential electric meters. The utility measures population growth as a way of predicting energy demands.

"As we continue to add population we will continue to see the demand for electricity grow too," Kessel said.

LIPA said it added more than 6,400 new households to its service area last year and that the average residential customer uses almost 30 percent more when compared to just eight years ago.

LIPA's survey is available at www.LIPower.org.

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