Wave Wishes For The Year 2008
This coming year may well be a pivotal one for Rockaway. The peninsula's revitalization has been underway for more than two years and we need it to continue in order to move Rockaway into the next decade. What does Rockaway need in the coming year? Herewith, the short list: First, and foremost, we need to continue the downward spiral in our murder rate to zero. After a spate of killings at the end of 2006, last year was relatively crime-free. We need it to stay that way and our wish is that the police continue to do what they have been doing to stop the problems of guns and drugs, particularly in our public housing projects. Then, we need Arverne By The Sea to continue to succeed. Up to now, the developers of the massive development project have kept their promises. Now, our wish if for an enhanced YMCA at Beach 73 Street, the speedy construction of the Super Stop & Shop and the development of the stores slated for the Beach 67 Street area. Rockaway continues to grow as new homes are built on virtually every empty lot on the peninsula. We worry about where the children who move into those homes are going to go to school. Despite the Department of Education's statements that there are plenty of empty seats in Rockaway schools, we know better. With the exception of MS 53 in Far Rockaway, most other schools are already impacted by the building boom and will soon find that they drowning in new students. We wish for at least two and perhaps three new schools in Rockaway - not counting the charter school planned by ABTS. In the same vein, development means better transportation facilities. People are not going to move to Rockaway if they have no way to get off the peninsula to their job. That means improving the A Train subway access, the shuttle and adding many more express buses. While there are many who see a commuter ferry as the savior of Rockaway, we would rather efforts and money be spent to improve existing transportation alternatives and make the commute to Manhattan reasonable. Perhaps the reinstallation of the White Pot Junction line through Forest Hills in the answer. We urge our legislators to work on that alternative while funding better subway and express bus transportation to the peninsula. Next, we need to keep Rockaway as a beachfront community. That means longer beach hours, adequate lifeguards, more realistic use of the boardwalk and an end to high-density development along the beachfront. The city plans to put up high-rise condo buildings along the west end beachfront and that is wrong-headed. We wish for the development of Beach 116 Street that includes lowrise, three-story buildings with stores and restaurants on the street-level and apartments above. Give us those things in 2008, and we will look at 2009 with an increased vigor, determination and optimism. Keep them from us, and we'll look with skepticism at the future of the peninsula.