2007-12-14 / Letters

Let's Keep Low Density

Dear Editor,

I believe the greatest asset we have in the west end of Rockaway is the fact that we live in a low-density community. We have the luxury of knowing our neighbors and getting in our car and moving somewhat freely around the community.

Our schools and our roads do not have the crowding that plagues so many other parts of this city. The lack of congestion impacts positively on our quality of life and our property values. The lack of congestion is a big reason so many of us decided to live here. Even with the low density of the west end, those of us who live here cannot help but notice the congestion that has started to develop on our roads as a result of all the development that is taking place in the rest of Rockaway.

The people of the west end should know that there are plans to change the low density we currently enjoy. The Department of City Planning is rezoning Rockaway. They are planning high density in Rockaway Park. This high-density R7 zoning plan calls for nine-story buildings on both sides of Beach 116 Street, from the end of the North Fork Bank property on the corner of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 116 Street, all the way to the beach. This zoning calls for one parking space for every other housing unit to be built, however, under the plan, even this requirement can be waived.

I am not particularly happy with the way Beach 116 Street looks currently, on the east side of the street near the beach. However, the proposed density is not the answer and will make things a lot worse. It is reasonable to assume nine-story buildings on both sides of Beach 116 Street will bring 1,000 housing units. Many of these units will require two wage earners to make them affordable. The mass transit to Rockaway is terrible, so many will need cars to get to work.

Just think of the impact on the rest of the community with over a thousand cars trying to get onto Rockaway Beach Boulevard, which has one lane in each direction, during rush hour, or on a hot summer day. Where are these residents going to park? Beside the impact on our roads, what about our schools and shopping? I believe the vast percentage of the population in the west end is opposed to this zoning change. Rockaway Park residents have a petition currently signed by 250 of their neighbors opposing the high-density zoning change for Beach 116 Street. I know of no petitions in favor.

I have a long memory and I know that many of the property owners on Beach 116 Street have not been good neighbors. They have neglected their properties and in the past, some of them have exploited the poor and homeless to enrich themselves. I do not feel we need to compromise our quality of life to further enrich them. If the time is not right to develop Beach 116 Street, let's leave it alone and be patient. Let's develop Rockaway Park as a low-density, quaint, seaside town.

KEVIN CALLAGHAN

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Be patient? Beach 116th street has been a blight on the face of Rockaway Park for far too long. How many banks, nail places and Chinese/Fried Chicken/Mexican fast food joints do we really need?
The GOOD business owners of 116th street need some help to turn it around. They have been unsuccessful on their own.
Parking is inadequate yes, and the mass transit is horrible, but perhaps if these hi density housing units go up, the single occupancy ones will be closed and services can be improved due to stronger voter demands.
116th street left alone is just more of the same for Rockaway, known behind its back as Rotaway because of the neglect of the City of New York to its needs.
Wooden buildings must be replaced with fireproof ones and a unified look is needed that exists in many "planned" neighborhoods. Take a look at other beach shopping areas around the country. San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Jersey's Long Beach Island, Portland, Maine and many upscale Florida communities come to mind and I am sure there are many others.
Putting a subprime lender such as HSBC on the spot where a great diner was was a huge mistake, check cashing places are not needed in this area and more than one dollar store?
Come on, if we keep allowing ghetto businesses to plant themselves, we will have more of the same problems that have plagued that block for decades.
Maybe a "PLAN" is needed? Duh?
Is everyone happy with having only 129th street and its abominable parking situation as the only viable shopping area?
How about a bookstore, a real coffee shop, an art gallery, some good restaurants to add to the best businesses on 116th street, all tied in with high quality, hurricane proof condos?
Isn't this New York City?
Isn't it great that HSBC will have a wonderful view of the bay and the 9/11 Memorial?
I have a long memory too and this is just more of the same thinking that keeps 116th street the horror that it is.
I really feel for the honest businesses like Brown's Hardware, Rockaway Beach Surf Shop and the Gift is Love, who have to deal with this year after year.
Higher density means more shoppers, more diners, more taxpayers who vote.
Have efforts to get rid of the SROs and other blights on 116th street been that successful to date?
Maureen E Ritter


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