2007-05-18 / Community

City's 2030 Plan Includes Renovation For R'way Beach

By Miriam Rosenberg

Revitalization for Rockaway's boardwalk and a ferry service for area commuters are among the items promised for the Rockaways in the city's PlaNYC 2030, which was unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last month.

In a speech titled "A Greener, Greater New York," the mayor announced the city's plan that allocates $4.13 million for renovations of the 44.5 acres of Rockaway Beach.

"The project will provide beachfront facilities such as comfort stations, lifeguard buildings, playgrounds, etc," said Abby Lootens, a spokesperson for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The PlaNYC 2030 report points out "the amenities along the boardwalk, such as public comfort stations, have deteriorated. Now major developments such as the Arverne-by-the-Sea project are under construction and will soon attract a large, vibrant residential community."

The new beach facilities will serve both new residents and visitors to the area.

The beach improvements are included in the "open space" part of the 2030 plan. Eight sites, at least one in each borough, have been picked for renovations. The objective of the "open space" part of the project is to "ensure that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park."

Jill Weber, Rockaway's Administrator for the Parks Department, said no decisions have been made yet.

"Nothing is written in stone," said Weber. "A lot is open to discussion. Nothing is firmed up yet. We will get [a lot of] that from the community."

On May 7, the mayor came to Beach 126 Street to make a formal announcement about proposed ferry services, which will run from Riis Landing in Breezy Point to lower Manhattan. Construction would begin in 2011 and it would be ready for operation in 2013. As reported in The Wave last week, the city has issued a Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to find private ferry operators interested in running the service.

According to the PlaNYC 2030 report, the total cost of the ferry would be $40 million. The city expects to contribute $20 million to the project. Part of the strategy to raise the money needed will be the establishment of a new authority.

"In the weeks ahead, we will begin by asking our partners in Albany to create a Sustainable Mobility and Regional Transportation - or SMART - Financing Authority," said Bloomberg in his Earth Day speech in April. "The SMART Authority will be authorized to raise funds and issue revenue bonds and it will award matching grants to transportation agencies - the MTA, the Port Authority, and the city's City Department of Transportation for key projects."

PlaNYC 2030 is a comprehensive plan, with 127 initiatives.

"Our strategies focus on the five key dimensions of the city's environment: land, air, water, energy, and transportation, so that we can absorb the coming growth - while continuing to strengthen our economy, our public health, and the quality of life in our neighborhoods," said Bloomberg.

While the plans for Rockaway Beach and the ferry service have some details, the rest of the benefits from PlaNYC 2030 for Rockaway are still somewhat sketchy.

Most promises for the area, covered by Community Board 14, are generic and cover most other community boards in the city, such as restoring the transit network to a state of good repair with cleaner stations with new signals and better tunnel lighting for a safer system in an emergency; the repaving of roads more often to keep streets in better condition; improvements to the bus network and bike network; congestion pricing that will reduce air pollution in Queens and road congestion on Queens roads; travel time improvements - driving speeds will increase by 2030; planned transit projects to improve travel time to Grand Central by between five to 15 percent; and new bike lanes are promised.

Specific to Rockaway is a new plaza in the Far Rockaway business district on Beach 20 Street and improved pedestrian and bus access to Beach 116 Street in Rockaway Park.

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