2008-07-25 / Top Stories

ABTS Amenities Stuck In Holding Pattern

Residents Await Local Facilities

This artist rendering of the YMCA was presented to the community nearly one year ago and is still awaiting construction. This artist rendering of the YMCA was presented to the community nearly one year ago and is still awaiting construction. There was little resolution to community concerns for the construction of several of the amenities promised by the developers of Arverne By The Sea (ABTS) when its development officials provided a highly-anticipated update on Tuesday night.

Gerri Romski, the CEO for the Benjamin/Beechwood LLC consortium, spoke before a Community Board 14 subcommittee meeting about the status of the promised YMCA, Super Stop and Shop and the transit /retail plaza.

Romski said that the YMCA project has been delayed because of several factors.

First and foremost, Romski said, money remains the most outstanding issue and no agency or politician has stepped forward to provide the extra $6 million necessary to expand the pool from four lanes to six, a demand made by an ad-hoc community committee last year.

Since October 2007, Community Board 14 has been involved in an ongoing struggle to get the increased funding from Mayor Bloomberg and the Port Authority of NY/NJ in order to include an eight-lane pool and an enclosed gymnasium in the planned facility.

Romski, however, says he is not counting on those funds.

"The Port Authority is not required to distribute funds specifically for a YMCA," he said.

Romski described the situation as a "holding pattern" that is simply driving up the cost of the entire project every day that the community waits for extra money to be received.

A decision from an undisclosed "alternate funding mechanism" is expected in the fall of 2008, Romski said. He is anxious to begin laying the foundation down as soon as possible.

The initial communications with local elected officials about the YMCA took place on October 10 of last year, when Senator Charles Schumer and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall sent separate letters to the mayor requesting that the extra money for the facility's amenities be taken out of a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey capital fund aimed at providing money to air traffic affected areas neighboring JFK and LaGuardia airports.

Those letters were joined with another sent to the mayor by Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, who also requested that the funds for the planned YMCA on Beach 73 Street come from The Port Authority of NY/NJ.

The YMCA is being built by Arverne By The Sea as part of its contract with the city that gave the development group rights to develop the land for more than 2,000 homes.

The other two projects, the transit and retail plaza and the Stop and Shop, are also in Rockaway's future, Romski promised.

The Beach 67 Street transit hub, says Romski, will coincide with the MTA's repairs of the Rockaway elevated subway lines. However, the MTA has rejected ABTS' proposal for an elevator and additional staircase running down the center of the hub.

Work on the retail plaza will commence once ABTS receives the work permit from the Department of Buildings, which they anticipate by next month.

Romski gave the estimated completion date to be somewhere around the end of 2009.

The Stop and Shop will be constructed by the supermarket company themselves and has given Romski an anticipated Thanksgiving 2009 opening date. "It has been a long process," Romski said optimistically about the entire development, "But," he claims, "we're almost done."

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