2007-12-21 / Letters

Beach 116 Street Rezoning

Dear Editor,

Zoning is the framework upon which a community is built. That is why it is very important for the community to speak out and make their voices heard about the changes being proposed by City Planning for Beach 116 Street.

As previously pointed out in the Beachcomber, R7A zone is proposed for the west side of Beach 115 Street, the east and west sides of Beach 116 Street and the east side of Beach 117 Street from the boardwalk to the North Fork Bank and Job Lot (about 100 feet from the Boulevard). This area is perhaps the narrowest geographical spot on the peninsula. To put this in perspective of what can be built, Ocean Grande, a 92-unit building, is zoned almost entirely R7A, but has a portion of its parking lot zoned R5.

That means a seven- or eight-story building, 200 feet wide, going from the boardwalk to almost the Boulevard, could be built under the proposed zoning.

While some argue that 100 percent parking [one spot for each unit] would be required, this ignores the amount of traffic such construction would generate. Imagine trying to get up or down the block with your car or onto Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

As it is, this is a difficult task some days. Who would want to shop on a street of gridlock? Even if some roadways were widened, they would still lead to the same two- to four-lane bridges.

Beach 116 Street is in need of improvement on the east side of the beach block. The rest of the block and Beach Channel Drive are thriving commercial areas. There are no highrise buildings there. The glaring impediments to shopping on Beach 116 Street are the lack of parking, dirty stores and sidewalks and neglect of the storefronts. The transit station looks beautiful and sets the tone for a small town community shopping center. The other merchants should adopt similar storefronts to make the area more appealing. Walter Gorman is to be applauded for the wonderful job he did in putting in a uniform façade and signage on his property along the north side of Beach Channel Drive. We need business owners to make more investments like this in our area.

Over the course of the last ten years, the Rockaway Park area has undergone a radical transformation. Many of the old absentee SRO landlords have left the neighborhood and in their place have come hard working families looking for a wonderful place to live and raise their families. They have converted these multiple dwellings into one- and two-family homes (although this may not yet be reflected in Buildings Department records).

Over a period of time, the business area of our community will improve. It is already starting on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, where a new Soholike movement is afoot, with many new and exciting stores opening, such as Accentuate (a Madison Avenue store in our midst), Rockabye Baby, a new carpet and tile store, and the Blue Bungalow, to name just a few. Several owners of the other stores have indicated a willingness to improve the area by making investments in new storefronts and having quality commercial tenants.

Our elected officials need to hear your voice on this. You have a say and you have a vote; use it to ensure that the framework of the community that will be adopted is the framework you want to live in for the next 20 or 30 years.

MAUREEN WALSH

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