2007-07-13 / Community

Rockaway Benefits From Library, Parks Initiatives

By Miriam Rosenberg

The Peninsula Library on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 92 Street, along with the Arverne Library on Beach 54 Street, will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting August 4.  The Peninsula Library on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 92 Street, along with the Arverne Library on Beach 54 Street, will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting August 4.

Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, Rockaway residents - especially children - will benefit from two initiatives announced last week.

Funding is now available, as a result of the 2008 city budget that began on July 1, to expand the number of days of operation for all libraries in the New York City Library system.

Beginning August 4, the Arverne Library on Beach 54 Street and the Peninsula Library on Beach 92 Street will be open for business from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

"Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council have made the best possible investment in education, job readiness and quality of life by restoring six-day a week library service in the Fiscal-Year 2008 budget," said Queens Library Director Thomas Galante in a July 5 press release. "People in Queens will be reaping the benefits for years to come. We can't thank them enough for their foresight and hard work."

Twenty-three communities in the city already have Saturday service, including the Far Rockaway branch. The Seaside Library on Beach 116 Street and the Broad Channel Library on Cross Bay Boulevard are among the branches that will open once staffing issues are worked out.

"They're definitely getting it [Saturday hours], it's just going to be a few more weeks," said Joanne King, a spokesperson for the Queens Library system.

In addition to money for an extra day of operation, libraries will receive funding for materials, such as new books.

While Peninsula has no plans yet for activities on Saturdays, Sharon Anderson, the Community Library Manager for the Arverne branch, said her facility is in the process of developing programs for the extra day.

Most libraries across the five boroughs lost city funding for weekend hours, as well as for new books and other materials, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In other news from City Hall, as a complement to the city's PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Bloomberg announced the first phase of the new Schoolyards to Playgrounds Initiative on July 2.

"Today marks the start of realizing a central goal of the PlaNYC agenda - making sure all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground," said Bloomberg about the $111 million improvement of schoolyards across the city. "To make this goal a reality, we're renovating and opening 290 school playgrounds, constructing eight new regional parks, completing bike lanes, lighting ball fields, turfing asphalt fields, expanding the greenway network and opening up the waterfront to the public in every corner of the city."

Sixty-nine playgrounds opened on July 2. The schoolyards at PS 114 at 134-01 Cronston Avenue in Belle Harbor and PS 106 at 180 Beach 35 Street are the two sites in Rockaway scheduled for renovation.

"Basketball hoops, play equipment, [a fresh coat of] paint, and other recreation amenities are going to be added," said Jason Post, a spokesperson for the mayor's office in an e-mail to The Wave.

There is no date for completing the work, but Post said "all playgrounds will be open by 2009."

The new initiative picked schoolyards in neighborhoods that showed the most need for open space. These playgrounds will be kept open year- round, including after school and on weekends.

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